Anthony Rendon Rescues The Year For Rice: 25 Items From The Owls' Sports Year

Tommy Lavergne, Rice University
Anthony Rendon at bat
Continuing with my personal review on the sports year just past, here are my thoughts on the Rice Owls of 2010.

1. I got to watch Anthony Rendon play third base on a regular basis. He can hit, and he's a good fielder. If the Astros didn't choke in the second half of this past season and play decent baseball, they could have been in line to draft Rendon. But he'll never fall that far.

2. Starting pitcher Mike Ojala was coming off Tommy John surgery. He worked throughout the season to become a consistent contributor to the rotation, and the one thing he wanted, more than anything, was to pitch a complete game once in his career. And in his last game, in the NCAA Regionals, when Rice needed it the most, he delivered that complete game.

3. I think Reckling Park is the only ballpark I've ever been there where they have to stop play in the middle of a game because of the glare coming off of the buildings in the Medical Center.

4. And here's to the Rice baseball fans who are convinced that the umpires never gave them a call.

5. One of the most memorable things I saw this baseball season was a game that Rice played against Houston at Cougar Field. Rendon was on fire that night, and I can swear that he homered at least twice into the McDonald's parking lot across the street.

6. The best view from any press box in the Houston area is the view from the Rice Stadium press box.

7. No, I'm not talking about the view of the field and the football team; I'm talking about the view of downtown Houston that you get.

8. There was nothing more maddening than watching that Rice no-huddle offense. They would rush to the line, look over at the sideline, snap out some signals, shift formation, bark at some signals, look at the sideline, shift again, look at the sideline, bark out the signals, shift, bark, then snap the ball right before the clock hit zero. Why not just huddle?

9. Then again, when Taylor McHargue was operating at QB, the offense did seem to fire on all cylinders, and you could see what Rice was aiming at.

10. Nick Fanuzzi was a nice guy, but he just didn't seem to have the command of that Rice offense that McHargue had.

11. The football season was disappointing for the Owls this year, but in those last several games, you can see the kind of offensive juggernaut the team can be, at least against C-USA defenses, when everybody is healthy.

12. It was fun at that ECU game watching the Owls do just about anything they wanted to do on offense.

13. The defense was hapless this year. And by the looks of it, it's going to be hapless next year as well. But as they say, there is no "D" in C-USA.

14. But bad defense or not, there was no excuse for Rice losing to Tulane. Tulsa? Yes. UCF? Yes. But losing to Tulane, no.

15. And give the Owls this, their loss to Texas gave all of us our first clue of just how bad the Texas Longhorns were going to be this season.

16. Until the offense finally got rolling in the final weeks, there was nothing quite like pondering what method it would find to self-destruct each week. The only thing comparable was pondering just how the Texans would find ways to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory each week.

17. The best thing about a Rice football victory was that we would get Frenchy's Chicken at the Monday media luncheon following the win.

18. Except, that is, for that week after the ECU win where we got sandwiches instead. You bastards.

19. The second best thing about the media luncheons was Rice punter Kyle Martens who seemed to be auditioning for a role as a comic for his post-football career.

20. I've got to admit liking the banners hanging at Tudor Fieldhouse. Instead of banners for championships and retired jerseys, which are there, Rice has banners for Nobel Prize winners and Rhodes Scholars.

21. I don't think Rice baseball coach Wayne Graham will ever be confused with a Rhodes Scholar. But I don't think I've ever met anyone who knows as much about baseball.

22. And there might not be any Rhodes Scholars among the Rice football players, but they're the only college team I know of that has two players whose dads are NFL head coaches. Receiver Klein Kubiak's dad is Gary Kubiak, head coach of the Texans. And defense back Corey Frazier's dad is Leslie Frazier, the current head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

23. As much as I like the Rice Stadium press box, I'm not much on the Tudor Fieldhouse press table. The table is set so high that my chin is almost on level with my laptop. And I think some of my press colleagues sit on phone books so that they can see the action on the court.

24. Here's to Rice guard Cory Pflieger who is returning from an ACL injury, and his second redshirt year, for a sixth season of basketball.

25. And then there's forward Arsalan Kazemi who gave about the most honest and emotional post-game interview I've heard after the loss to Arizona when, unprompted, he called his teammates scared

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal