Rice women’s basketball learned of their NCAA Tournament fates in an unconventional way, but that doesn’t change their level of excitement.
Monday’s midafternoon Twitter frenzy altered what was meant to be a historic Selection Monday for Rice Women’s Basketball. History was still cemented — Rice saw their name on an NCAA Tournament Bracket — it just didn’t unfold quite like anyone thought it would.
ESPN accidentally leaked the women’s bracket just before 3 p.m. local time, forcing a frenzy of activity which included a two-hour jump in the planned reveal time. A 6 p.m. watch party with fans and staff turned into a rushed, 4 p.m. event with minimal pomp and circumstance.
In many ways, the lost gusto was disappointing. Star center Nancy Mulkey called finding out through Twitter “devastating” while athletic director Joe Karlgaard admitted the error was “unfortunate”, but even in the midst of unconventional circumstances, the smiles reverberated around the semi-full media room at the Patterson Center.
After admitting some of her frustration, Mulkey started to grin. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” she said. “It’s a blessing and we’re grateful…. to have the opportunity to play in Texas, right down the road is a benefit to us that we have our fans, our friends. It’s going to be fun.”
This will be Rice’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2005. Regardless of if the news was broke on Twitter or by carrier pigeon, the landmark event will be a building block of this program for years to come.
“It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or anything about the circumstances, there’s nothing like seeing your name pop up for the NCAA Tournament” head coach Tina Langley declared with passion. Her Owls had defied the odds, completed a perfect season in Conference USA and clinched a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Who cares about how the news broke. Rice is going dancing, and that’s worth celebrating.