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Rice baseball featured in USA TODAY

Discussion in 'Other Sports' started by Old School, May 9, 2002.

  1. Old School

    Old School Member

    Nov 7, 1999
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    And Coogs too...

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/baseball/stories/2002-05-09-rice-graham.htmRice steaming toward Omaha

    By Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY

    Wayne Graham is right at home at Rice, and the Houston native doesn't have to go far from home to stock his baseball program.

    Graham became head coach in 1992 and quickly turned Rice into a power. The private school with an undergraduate enrollment of just 2,700 and a strong academic reputation has been to the College World Series in Omaha twice in the last six years, most recently in 1999. Prominent alumni in the majors include the Toronto Blue Jays' Jose Cruz Jr. and Houston Astros slugger Lance Berkman.

    The Owls, ranked second in the nation this week, are making a strong bid to return to Omaha with another team built primarily on talent from around Houston.

    "It's a combination of things," Graham says. "For years now, a lot of the top junior colleges have been in Texas. A lot of former baseball people have settled in the Houston area, so kids are getting good instruction year-round. ... There are 8-year-old kids whose parents go with them to camps. That will develop players."

    Rice brought a 33-8 record and 11-game winning streak into Wednesday night's game against Lamar. That game followed a nine-day break for spring exams.

    "We probably only deal with a third of the talent pool because of grades," Graham says. "Still, that's a pretty good talent pool."

    Eric Arnold, a senior second baseman from LaPorte, is one of those area recruits.

    "My freshman year we made it to Omaha, and this is the best team we've had since I've been here in every aspect," says Arnold, who came into Wednesday's game hitting .351 with a team-high 60 RBI. "I don't think anybody expected us to be this dominant. When we got together in the fall, you could really see the talent in these young guys we hadn't seen before."

    One of those newcomers was first baseman Vincent Sinisi, who sat out all of last season with a rib injury before transferring from Texas. He stepped into the cleanup spot to become the Owls' leading hitter at .416. Sinisi is ready for this weekend's series with San Jose State, which could clinch the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title for the Owls.

    "They've been red hot," Sinisi says of the Spartans. "We've been keeping up with what they've been doing. They beat (then-No. 8) Stanford last week 12-0."

    The Owls' 2001 season ended in Nebraska but not in Omaha. They were swept in a super regional by the Cornhuskers in Lincoln.

    "Every year we've got the goal of going to Omaha," Arnold says. "We don't want to look past that, but we don't want to just get there. We want to prove we're the best team in the country."


    Rice coach Wayne Graham's touch reaches across town to the University of Houston, where Rayner Noble, an assistant on Graham's staff for three years, took over at his alma mater in 1995. He had Houston in the NCAA tournament in his third season at the helm in 1997.

    "What we're trying to establish is a baseball program with a reputation that's nationally known," Noble says. "We're on the verge of that. We need to have that breakthrough season and get to the College World Series. We haven't been there since '67."

    There still is work to do. The Cougars (34-14) cracked the top 10 in the coaches' poll a week ago but slipped to 12th after dropping two of three to South Florida. Houston lost four of the five meetings with Rice in this year's Silver Glove Series.
    #1 Old School, May 9, 2002
    Last edited: May 9, 2002
  2. Isabel

    Isabel Member

    Feb 15, 1999
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    Rice Fight Never Die
    Blue, Gray, in the Sky
    Stand, Cheer, Drink More Beer
    Go, Go, Gooooooooo RICE!!!!!

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