From its rocky start to awkward ending, the 2019-2020 Rice Basketball season was a roller coaster ride. Coach Scott Pera believes the best is yet to come.
Rice basketball ended their 2019-2020 season sooner than they’d hoped. The Owls fell to the FIU Panthers in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament on Wednesday, March 11th. Rice boarded the busses and headed home.
Less than 12 hours later on Thursday, March 12, every other team in C-USA followed suit.
“It was obviously weird, bizarre,” head coach Scott Pera said of the sudden shutdown. “I didn’t see it heading this way quickly and that’s what happened.”
Safeguards against the coronavirus had forced the suspension of the NBA season while Pera’s team was still on the court, battling for what they believed was their season. Pera is still processing that.
“You wanted to be mad you lost, but it didn’t matter if you won… But if we had won the game, then it’s all like well, what if? What if? And I don’t want to feel any of that stuff either.”
The weird end to the year parallels an up and down season. Rice basketball finished the year 15-17 (7-11), one victory shy of a .500 record. The Owls boasted a few impressive program firsts along the way.
Rice took down Penn, UCSB and ECU in non-conference play. The win over ECU was the program’s first over an AAC opponent. When conference play began, the Owls won on the road against UAB and Middle Tennessee for the first time in program history. They also topped C-USA regular season champion North Texas at Tudor Fieldhouse. Meanwhile, Ako Adams smashed through the Rice record books, leaving Rice with the most games played in program history.
Although the team was a touch more consistent than they had been in previous seasons, the low points were seemingly just as frequent. Rice went 0-3 against C-USA Tournament 11-Seed UTEP. Losses to Southern Miss and UTSA in the regular season pushed them into the bottom pod for bonus play.
After taking time to collect his thoughts after the season’s whirlwind finish, Pera is able to walk away with some sense of closure. “We played we lost. We had finality,” he said of the conference tournament.
Panning out further toward the season as a whole, Pera takes a more optimistic vantage point. “I have one major goal and purpose, and that is to continue to grow the program. That goal, in my mind, I think was undoubtedly accomplished,” Pera remarked. “Could we want a few more games? Sure, we could have… but it’s all part of the growth. I feel like we took a necessary step.”