Rice Women’s basketball is coming off a string of successful seasons, but the Owls have no intention of slowing down now. The future remains bright on South Main.
Winners of back-to-back Conference USA titles, Rice Women’s Basketball has no plans to slow down any time soon. Head coach Tina Langley has turned Rice into a power within its conference with eyes on bigger and better things. Even without star guard Erica Ogwumike, head coach Tina Langley can list endless reasons she believes in the returning roster.
From the top, there’s Nancy Mulkey, described by Langley herself as “one of the best centers in the country.” Jasmine Smith has been a starter since she arrived on campus. Langely called Synde Wiggins a “lethal shooter”, deservedly so after the junior finished Top-5 in Conference USA with her .358 three-point percentage. And then there’s a host of talented depth pieces and the surging freshman class.
On paper, this is going to be a very good basketball team. In practice, Langley has proven she can press the right buttons when the games matter most. Rice Women’s basketball has lost one game in the month of March in the past two seasons. That came in heartbreaking fashion in the NCAA Tournament. When that’s the only blemish on your March resume, things are trending in the right direction.
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Beyond the hedges, the Owls’ chief competitor has challenges of their own. Old Dominion knocked off the Owls in Virginia last season, snapping their 30-game conference winning streak. Following the season the Monarchs lost head coach Nikki McCray to Mississippi State. They’ll be breaking in new head coach next season. Western Kentucky, who tied for second with Old Dominion last season, will replace several upperclassmen starters.
Nothing will be handed to Rice next season. If the past two years are any indication, there could be some growing pains as the Owls work out the kinks before conference play begins. But when it comes to matching the coaching and the talent Rice possesses, it’s hard to make a case the Owls won’t be in the mix for another conference title next spring.