Baseball Plays at Minute Maid Park This Weekend

Feb. 25, 2016

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E-mail baseball SID John Sullivan
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PDF of Rice's latest pregame release

Feb. 26 (Fri.) 7 pm; Arkansas (vis.) vs. Rice (home)
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Feb. 27 (Sat.) 7 pm; Rice (vis.) vs. TCU (home)
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Feb. 28 (Sun.) 6 pm; Louisiana-Lafayette (vis.) vs. Rice (home)
GameTracker (activates at game time)

Rice Baseball Heads Downtown!
Owls Set To Play In 2016 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic
Riding a three-game win streak, the Rice baseball team (3-2) heads downtown to play in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic on Feb. 26-28. It's one of the nation's top collegiate tournaments and held annually at Minute Maid Park, the major league home of the Houston Astros. Rice is making its 15th appearance in this, the 16th year of the event. On three consecutive days the Blue & Gray meet national powers Arkansas (5-0) on Friday (7:05 pm), TCU on Saturday (7:05 pm), and Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday (6:05 pm).

Weekend Games Set For TV Broadcasts
All the Classic games this weekend are all scheduled for a live television broadcast. Nationally the games will be aired on the MLB Network, with regional distribution by ROOT Sports and COX Cable. Broadcasters Brett Dolan (play-by-play), former major leaguer and Rice Owl Pat Combs (analysis), and Kelsey Wingert (on-field reports) have the TV call this weekend from Minute Maid Park.

Rice Baseball Returns To Radio Airwaves
Rice baseball will return to the broadcast airwaves for seven games in 2016 as part of an agreement between Rice IMG Sports Properties and ESPN Deportes Houston (1180 am). The slate of games began earlier this week Feb. 24 (Wed.) when the Owls hosted longtime foe Texas State at Reckling Park. The seven games marks the second-consecutive season that Rice Baseball has been available on radio in the Houston area. The seven broadcasts feature four home games and all three games at Minute Maid Park. The final three radio games are among the Owls' biggest non-conference games of the season, including state powers TCU (March 15), Texas A&M (April 5) and Houston (May 10).

Follow The Tweeting Rice Owls
The official Rice baseball Twitter account is @RiceOwlsBSB while the Rice Athletics department is @RiceOwlsdotcom. Twitter is perhaps the fastest way to get weather-related changes to the schedule/updated start times.

Live Stats On GameTracker
Links to live play-by-play text and statistics from every home game are posted on Look for the GameTracker links on the Rice Athletics front page, the weekly series preview, and the baseball schedule page.

National Rankings Update • Owls Ranked As High As No. 23
Here's a closer look at some of the national rankings, as well as that polls' respective 2016 preseason ranking:
Organization    Current    Previous
College Baseball Central    23    21
Collegiate Baseball    25    20
USA Today/ESPN    --    24
College Sports Madness    nr    23
NCBWA    nr    26    nr    rv
Baseball America    nr    nr    nr    nr    nr    nr

NCAA RPI Is On The Way; Owls No. 37 In 2015
If you have disdain for the politics of the various baseball polls and prefer the cold, hard math of the NCAA's official Rating Power Index (RPI), you'll have to wait a little longer. The NCAA is not scheduled to release the official RPI just yet. A year ago the Owls had the No. 37 RPI in the nation.

Play-By-Play Audio On The Web
Every Rice baseball game this season is scheduled for a live audio broadcast around the world on the Internet at Tune-in to the pregame show 15 minutes before each game's first pitch. J.P. Heath is in his eighth season as the regular voice of the Owls. Fellow Rice broadcaster Gerald Sanchez is scheduled to do selected games over the course of the season, including the first two this weekend at Minute Maid Park.

Head Coach Wayne Graham
Four-time national coach of the year and 2012
College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Graham (Texas, 1970) is in his 25th season at Rice. The 2016 campaign marks his 36th year as a collegiate head coach... He is now 1,079-444 with the Owls (644-164 at home, 337-214 on the road and 98-66 at neutral sites). His Rice winning percentage is .708, the best in school history. Another way of looking at Graham's .708 win percentage is that it is the equivalent of a major league team winning 114 games in a single year... Graham is 0-1 vs. Arkansas, 43-19 vs. TCU, and 12-7 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette... Under Graham, the Owls clinched another postseason bid in 2015, making 21-straight seasons for Rice to earn an NCAA appearance. The Blue & Gray has advanced into the NCAA tournament in 1995-96-97-98-99-00-01-02-03-04-05-06-07-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15. The 2003 bid culminated with the Owls' first national championship... Rice played in the 1994-95-96 Southwest Conference tournaments (winning the final league title in `96), won the 1997-98-99 WAC tournaments, shared the 2000 WAC title with San Jose State before winning the 2001-02-03-04-05 titles outright. He won (or shared) C-USA regular season crowns in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, as well as the C-USA tournament championships in `06, `07, `09, `11, `13 and `14... Graham was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1998, `99, `02 and the Co-Coach of the Year in `03. He was named the Keith LeClair C-USA Coach of the Year in `06, his first year in the league, and again in `07, `08, `10 and `11... Rice has seven appearances in the NCAA College World Series under Graham (1997, `99, `02, `03, `06, `07, `08)... Graham has led the Owls to number-one rankings for seven weeks during the 1999 season, for six weeks during the `01 campaign, two weeks in `02, six weeks in 2003 (the last of which established some staying power), three weeks in 2004, 12 weeks in 2006 and five weeks in `07... Graham's San Jacinto Gators dominated the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., in the 1980s, winning five national titles in six years (1985-86-87, 89-90)... The Austin American-Statesman named Graham its SWC Coach of the Year in `95 after he led the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance... Collegiate Baseball was especially cognizant of Graham's efforts at San Jac. He was named the newspaper's Coach of the Decade for all levels in the 1980s after winning those five junior college national titles, and CB tabbed him the NJCAA Coach of the Century... He was named the 2007 Division I college Coach of the Year by FieldTurf... One of the few current collegiate head coaches to have played in the major leagues (N.Y. Mets in 1963, Philadelphia in 1964), Graham is aided by assistant coaches Patrick Hallmark (Rice, 1995, Brown College; 11th year), Clay Van Hook (Texas, 2008; fifth year) and Scott Shepperd (Concordia, 2007; fourth year)... On game days Van Hook coaches at third base while Shepherd coaches at first.

1,654 Wins • A Baseball Odyssey
Wayne Graham owns 1,079 Division I wins at Rice, but his career victories tally to 1,654 when you include his 11 years at San Jacinto North College where he won five national championships. Graham's overall "collegiate record" is 1,654-555 in a 35-year coaching career that began in 1981.

Possible Starting Pitchers
Coach Graham will announce Rice's starting pitchers for the weekend at a later time.

Winning Is Always In Fashion
For the fashion-minded, Rice's 2016 W-L records while wearing the various uniforms is as follows:
1-1 in all-white
1-1 in pinstripes
1-0 in blue tops with pinstripe pants

Another Big Season-Opening Series
Rice baseball has a long-history of testing itself with some tough, but very popular, season-opening series - like last weekend vs Arizona. Here's how some other opening weekends have added-up. (Note that many of the previous opening weekends were in a tournament format where the Owls played against three different opponents on consecutive days.)
    Year    1st Weekend    Average
    2015    *17,191    4,297
    2013    12,237    4,079
    2011    12,182    4,060
    2009    10,950    3,650
    2004    10,117    3,372
    2012    9,615    3,205
    2016    9,265    3,088

National Postseason Streak At 21-Straight
Rice baseball's 21-straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament is the nation's fourth-longest active streak. In 2015 Miami (Fla.) made the field for the 43rd-consecutive year, extending its own record, followed by Florida State (38) and Cal State Fullerton (24). Rice's 21-straight NCAA Tournament bids is also now tied for the fourth-longest postseason streak in Division I baseball history (after Clemson saw its 21-year regional streak snapped in 2008).

Conference Titles Streak Now At 20-Straight
Rice's streak of consecutive conference titles is 20-straight years (just one behind its NCAA streak)... The Owls have won or shared a total of 20-straight conference championships (including either regular season and/or conference tournament titles) dating back to 1996. The streak covers membership in three different leagues beginning with the Southwest Conference (1996), to nine seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (1997-2005) and now ten C-USA titles in as many years. The Owls won the 2015 C-USA regular season title by a comfortable 2.5-game margin. Here is a closer look at Rice's title run the last 20 years:
Year    Conf.    Regular Season    Conf. Tourney
2015    C-USA    1st    tied 7th
2014    C-USA    1st    1st
2013    C-USA    tied 1st    1st
2012    C-USA    1st    tied 5th
2011    C-USA    tied 1st    1st
2010    C-USA    1st    2nd
2009    C-USA    2nd    1st
2008    C-USA    1st    tied 7th
2007    C-USA    1st    1st
2006    C-USA    1st    1st
2005    WAC    1st    no tourney
2004    WAC    1st    no tourney
2003    WAC    1st    no tourney
2002    WAC    1st    no tourney
2001    WAC    1st    no tourney
2000    WAC    tied 1st    no tourney
1999    WAC    1st    1st
1998    WAC    1st South Div.    1st
1997    WAC    1st South Div.    1st
1996    SWC    tied 6th    1st

Two More Games Picked Up By TV, Total Now Five Overall
Two more Rice baseball games have been selected for a television broadcast for the upcoming 2016 season under the FOX Sports banner. The Owls' April 22 contest at C-USA foe Southern Miss is now a TV game. The second selection is the May 13 home game vs. Florida Atlantic. Note the start time for both is now 7 pm due to the respective broadcasts on Fox Sports 2... The Owls also have three televised games when the team plays at Minute Maid Park.

Rice Since 1999
Using the 1999 season as the starting point (the year the NCAA expanded the postseason tournament field to 64 teams with the current Super Regional format), Rice baseball has maintained one of the nation's top win percentages over the last 17 years. Here's a closer look at the country's winningest programs from 1999-2015 (these records do not include games played in 2016):
Team    Years    Wins    Loses    Ties    PCT
Florida St.    17    835    299    1    .736
Rice    17    799    302    0    .726
North Carolina    17    763    325    1    .701
South Carolina    17    780    337    0    .698
Cal St. Fullerton    17    739    324    0    .695
LSU    17    762    333    6    .695
Miami (FL)    17    732    330    3    .689
Texas    17    747    341    1    .686
Coastal Caro.    17    714    331    0    .683
Oral Roberts    17    695    323    0    .683
Arizona St.    17    672    312    2    .683
Georgia Tech    17    708    352    1    .668
Virginia    17    684    355    3    .658
Nebraska    17    666    365    2    .646
Clemson    17    709    392    1    .644
Col.of Charleston    17    645    361    1    .641
East Carolina    17    659    369    3    .641
TCU    17    667    375    0    .640
Stanford    17    659    372    2    .639
Florida Atlantic    17    651    370    1    .637
Oregon St.    17    624    356    1    .637
Florida    17    685    391    2    .636
Tulane    17    658    377    2    .635
Oklahoma St.    17    651    375    0    .635
Texas A&M    17    669    392    3    .630
Louisville    17    654    386    1    .629
Wichita St.    17    660    390    0    .629
Kent St.    17    631    373    0    .628
Notre Dame    17    633    376    5    .627
Southern    17    494    295    0    .626
Vanderbilt    17    658    395    0    .625
Ohio St.    17    622    379    1    .621
UL-Lafayette    17    646    395    1    .620
Southern Miss.    17    636    390    1    .620





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