Thursday Tidbits

Rice has a big weekend coming up with Rice baseball hosting Southern Miss in C-USA action, , Rice football wrapping up Spring Drills with a Spring Scrimmage, and David Bailiff and staff will host roughly 100 juniors Saturday at Rice Junior Day...

-- The Rice baseball team will host C-USA rival Southern Miss this weekend in a 3 game home stand. Southern Miss is near the top of the C-USA pack in standings, though conference play has really just begun. They have a record of 15-7 on the year and are 2-1 in C-USA play, losing once to UCF last weekend. They beat Ole Miss Tuesday night in 10 innings to notch Head Coach Corky Palmer's 800th collegiate victory, (he surpassed 900 career wins earlier last week). In a play that made ESPN's Play of the Day list, junior Corey Stevens blasted the first pitch he saw over dead center field to win it for the Golden Eagles. They will be riding the high of winning that game in such dramatic fashion as they arrive in Houston this weekend. Rice had its 10 game winning streak halted last night, losing 8-5 to Houston in Game 2 of the Silver Glove Series. The Owls come in at 18-7 on the season and atop the C-USA standings (Silver Glove games are non-conference). They've been pretty tough to beat in conference play over the years and realize the importance of this weekend's series. Rice is led by the play of Jared Gayhart. The junior right fielder from Katy has a team leading 33 RBI's and also leads the team in batting average at .371. Southern Miss' hitting attack is fueled by SS Brian Dozier and Catcher/Designated Hitter Kyle Maxie. On the mound, the Golden Eagles' Barry Bowden has been tough this year. He's 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA adding 35 strikeouts. Todd McInnis also has 35 K's to his credit and a 5-1 record. Bowden was C-USA Pitcher of the Week this week for his dominating performance against Central Florida last weekend. Southern Miss is among a group of teams including East Carolina, Central Florida, and Tulane that are expected to challenge the defending champion Owls for the C-USA title.

-- Freshman Rick Hague sat out last night's game with a bruised wrist and sore shoulder. He bruised the wrist in Tuesday's game at Texas State, the shoulder has been sore for weeks but hasn't kept him out of the lineup. Hague is expected to return to the lineup tomorrow night. He's leading the team with 4 Home Runs this season.

-- The search for a basketball coach is into its second week now and is possibly the best kept secret in town. I ran into Mike Pede the other day and he said he hasn't heard a single name mentioned. The Athletic Department has stated it will not release candidate's names. We do know that former Rice players Torrey Andrews, Adam Peakes, Kevin Rabbit, and Bobby Tudor are on the search committee. And while, Chris Del Conte is keeping the search quiet, word is he's getting some big name inquiries from across the country - inquiries from head coaches who had teams in the NCAA Tournament, and inquiries from assistants on staffs currently in the Sweet 16. With Reliant Stadium hosting an NCAA Regional, and teams like Texas and Michigan State in town playing, I'd bet CDC has his eye on Texas Asst. (and Angleton native) Rodney Terry or Michigan State Associate Head Coach Mark Montgomery. It's all speculation at this point but its sounds like Rice will get an exciting new coach to rejuvenate the basketball program.

-- Rice Spring Drills conclude this Saturday with the Rice Spring Game at 5:00 pm, held at Rice Stadium. There really hasn't been a "big story" this spring. Which suits David Bailiff just fine. The players, who for the first time in 3 years don't have to "think" before taking a step while at practice, have also welcomed continuity of terminology and scheme. Overall the team has had much more time to work on situations and wrinkles – something they had to do along the way last season. And while there have been more strains and bruises than we'd like to see that has worked to the advantage of several players. Jeramy Goodson for example has seen a lot of reps and has shown good toughness for his size, and importantly the ability to slip through seams in the defense with the ball in his hands. Davon Primus has gotten a lot of good work on the other side of the ball. I'd still like to see the running game progress – and it will – but the fact that it hasn't run roughshod over the defense means the defensive line is playing well in spite of several injuries to starters. Injuries to the defense aside, the offense has played well for the most part this spring. Both units look bigger, faster, and stronger. We tend to take for granted the talents of guys like Chase Clement, Jarett Dillard, James Casey, Andrew Sendejo, and Brian Raines. We shouldn't, they've played well this spring and all look poised for a big 2008 season. They don't get a lot of time here because we already know what they can do – thing is they're all actually doing it a little better. Of course, the true measurement of the gains made over the past few weeks will come to record come August, not necessarily just on Saturday. At this point, the body of work looks encouraging at the least.

-- Junior Day Saturday will be an important opportunity for both recruits and staff to start narrowing down what will be the 2009 Football Signing Class. Rice is recruiting some of the top players in the state, including several nationally ranked players. This is a strong year in the state for Quarterbacks and some of the top players at the position are right here in the Houston area – local Rice targets include Kolby Gray, Friendswood's Jacob Karam, Dayton's Cody Green, Dickinson's Brody Trahan, and Aldine Nimitz's Zerick Rollins. Overall, the Owl's wish list this year calls for 1 QB, 1 TE/FB, 3 OL, 2 DE, 2 LB, 2 Safeties, 2 CB, and an Athlete that can play any number of positions. The agenda for Saturday's visitors includes meeting with their Area recruiters, Position coaches, touring the campus, meeting with Academic advisors, a Tour and Presentation with of the Strength and Conditioning Program with Yancy McKnight, and ends with the group taking in the Spring Game.

Go Owls!!!

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