The Top Moments in 2011 Rice Owls Sports

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Meet Rendon.JPG
John Royal
Rice's Anthony Rendon became a very rich baseball player this summer.
It's that time of year. The time for end-of-year lists and bests of, etc. And I'm not immune to tossing off an easy post. So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the Top 25 Events in Rice Owls sports for the year just past.

1. Austin Kubitza tosses the pitching performance of the season not only for Rice, but of any seen inside Minute Maid Park, as he tosses a beautiful complete-game 1-0 win over the Texas Aggies in the second day of competition at the Houston College Classic. He threw just 88 pitches and the game lasted 1:45. He was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

2. Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is the sixth player chosen in the MLB Amateur Draft, and is selected by the Washington Nationals. He received a four-year contract with $7.2 million guaranteed and a $6 million bonus. (It is suspected that the Nationals will attempt to move him to second base or first base as Ryan Zimmerman is ensconced at third for the Nationals in the majors.)

3. The baseball team got the 8 seed for the baseball regionals which was supposed to lead into the Super Regionals and then to the College World Series in Omaha. They were also awarded the hosting of that regional. So of course, with the path set for them, they lost early and failed to make past the first round.

4. Rice linebacker Justin Allen blocks the field goal attempt of Purdue's Carson Wiggs to defeat the Boilermakers 24-22 at Rice Stadium on September 10. The win is not only Rice's first of the season, it's also their first win over an AQ-BCS team since a 15-13 win over Duke in December 2001.

5. Rice defeats Tulane on November 19 in Rice Stadium for their fourth and final win of the season. This wins gives Rice nine straight home wins in the month of November. Now if they could just play every game of the season at home, and in November, the Owls would be playing for the national title every year.

6. On February 26, 2011, the Rice swim team won the C-USA conference championships after three days of competition, compiling 702 team points to defeat ECU which was second with 676.5. Rice won the event despite not having a diving team, which meant they had no competitors in the three diving events.

7 Rice swim coach Seth Houston is named C-USA coach of the year for the second straight year.

8. In "shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic" news, the Owls fired Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach and Recruiting Coordinator/Running Back Coach Rick LaFavers on December 5, 2011. The new running back coach will surely be tasked with getting Sam McGuffie, when healthy, to actually run north-south and not east-west. The new defensive coordinator will be tasked with finding more creative ways to make up for the offense's inability to actually score anything more than field goals.

9. Hey kids, punter Kyle Martens? Yeah, he's good. Real good.

10. For what it's worth, so is kicker Chris Boswell, who has shown a knack for the 50-plus yard field goal, which has been useful seeing how often the Rice offense appears to stall out around that point.

John Royal
Arsalan Kazemi continues to dominate play on the basketball court
11. Oct. 22, 2011 sees perhaps the low point of the football season as QB Taylor McHargue throws an interception on his first two passes. Each interception leads to a Tulsa touchdown. On the third possession, he fumbles, which leads to a Tulsa field goal. Rice loses game 38-20. To further the agony, down 31-20, having just scored a touchdown, and with time ticking down in the game, Rice elects not to go with the onside kick because they don't like what they see from Tulsa.

12. Rice trumpets the rebuilding they're going to do to Rice Stadium, including new team/alumni facilities in the south end zone.

13. Back during January, Omar Oraby tried to play and concentrate on basketball while his country was undergoing a revolution and while worrying about the safety of his family, most of whom were still in Egypt.

14. Rice Owls forward Arsalan Kazemi amazingly continues to improve as a basketball player, amazingly because he's already one of the best players in Conference USA. On November 12, 2011 versus New Orleans, Kazemi launches himself to the rafters of Tudor Fieldhouse to slam down an alley-oop for a dunk. 15. The basketball team, fielding perhaps their strongest squad in years, has jumped out to a 7-2 start, but faces some difficult road tests against Texas A&M and Texas late this month as they prepare to move into conference play.

16. While no longer the program it was under John Calipari, the Memphis Tigers are still the top of the Conference USA men's basketball pyramid, so a packed Tudor Fieldhouse was thrilled when the Owls pulled off the late-season upset on February 19, defeating Memphis for the first time ever by a score 67-52

17. Kazemi was the only player during 2010-2011 to average a double-double (15.2 points/11 rebounds per game) in C-USA and has continued with his dominance this season.

18. The Cougars might have destroyed the Owls 73-34 to take the Bayou Bucket, but senior running back Tyler Smith had a day for the ages, getting 243 all-purpose yards, with 170 rushing yards and three TDs (two runs and one by pass) while lighting up the Coog run defense. His 97-yard 3rd quarter run was the longest TD run in C-USA history.

19. Rice celebrates its 100th year of football much like it's done the previous 99 years, by losing to Texas. And for what it's worth, losing to just about everybody else on the schedule (4-8, 3-5 in conference). Props for the difficult schedule, but maybe some thought should be given to scheduling some lightweights in the near future.

20. If you can live through your alumni, then this has been a good season. Lance Berkman signed a one-year deal with the Cards, got in great shape, and helped lead the Cards to a Series win. And Gary Kubiak has finally learned how to use James "Thor" Casey as the Texans are well on their way to their first-ever playoff game.

21. CB Bryce Callahan, OL Drew Carroll, and PR Mario Hull are named to the C-USA All-Conference Freshman team. So the fired recruiting coach must have been doing something right, right?

22. Speaking of Kyle Martens, not only is he good, he was named 1st team C-USA. Scott Solomon made the 2nd team. Tyler Smith, Cameron Nwosu, Chris Boswell, and Paul Porras made All-Conference USA honorable mention.

23. Despite going 2-10, 4-8, and 4-8 for his last three seasons, David Bailiff lives to fight another day as football head coach.

24. UH, SMU, and UCF departed for the Big East, leaving Rice alone among Texas schools in a conference teetering on the brink of extinction. Oh yeah, there's always the Intergalactic Planetary Super Conference.

25. The MOB scores more points than the football team, when, during the halftime of the Texas game, they not only mock Rick Perry, but also the Aggies and the SEC in a halftime performance for the ages.

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