If outcomes of games are determined by a team’s desire to play then Rice is in good shape heading into Saturday’s non-conference game with the University of New Orleans. Another chance to get back on the court can’t come soon enough for Owls after another sluggish second half turned into a 77-51 loss to Memphis on Wednesday.
Rice’s rush to play again isn’t because the team is on a roll, it’s just the opposite. Head coach Ben Braun sees many things that the Owls need to improve on in order to get better, starting down low.
“Our rebounds, our post guys have got to rebound,” Braun said. “I challenged them after the (Memphis) game in a positive way, but a direct way. We can’t go with two rebounds combined from our post players.”
“That’s what it was,” Braun added. “Seth (Gearhart) got one offensive rebound and one defensive rebound. Other than that there wasn’t one of our post players or bigger players that got a rebound.”
Part of that drought Wednesday can be attributed to the size and athleticism of Memphis’ frontcourt, but Braun said there were rebounds to be had and the team needs to find a way to get them.
Another issue for the Owls that came up was keeping turnovers to a minimum. Rice only turned the ball over 13 times in Wednesday’s game against Memphis, but the Tigers were able to convert them into 21 points.
If Rice is able to handle the ball, they can control the pace of play. Rice likes to slow the ball down and is happiest when scores are in the 50’s.
If a game set up well for the Owls to win, it is at home against UNO. The Privateers come in with a similar record to Rice at 4-11 but have yet to win on the road. UNO is 0-7 on the road this year and have kept just one of those games within single digits.
The Owls defense should also have chances to be opportunistic Saturday, New Orleans turns the ball over more than 17 times a game on average. Combine that with the fact that the Privateers are outrebounded by four a game and Rice could celebrate a win Saturday night if its post players play big.