HOUSTON, Texas - As Rice University men's basketball plays its final two home games of the season this week, the Owl freshmen class talked about seniors Seth Gearhart, Van Green and Dan Peera. Following Rice's Thursday night game against Old Dominion (7 p.m.), the three seniors will play their final home contest as the Owls seek a season sweep against Charlotte on Saturday night.
What does this senior class mean to you?
Jeremy Jones: I'd say they're just a very special group of young men. They've been a part of the program and they've experienced the change here more than anybody. Being seniors, sometimes new coaches come in and may not want to show them much attention and focus on the young class. But Coach Rhoades was very caring of them and they bought into what he was selling; that made the underclassmen follow their lead.
Bishop Mency: What stands out the most about this year's senior class is their leadership and ability to embrace a new culture as late as they are in their careers. They're really good guys and they've been there for me since Day 1. They've been encouraging and have given me tidbits here and there to help me get through the season.
Nate Pollard: They're all very good leaders. To me, the way they carry themselves all the time shows what kind of people they are. They're bulldogs on the court and German shepherds off the court.
Jordan Reed: They're just great guys on and off the court. You never hear anything bad about them. They always work really hard and that makes the younger guys want to work hard also.
J.T. Trauber: When I think of Dan, Seth and Van, I think of three brothers that really became like family to me this year. I'm so blessed to be on a team with them. They are such good leaders, they lead by example, they're vocal and they do everything right. They've honestly made a huge impact on my life for this season with basketball, but also off the court for my future.
What's the best advice they have given you, or what's the main thing you have learned from the seniors this year?
Jeremy: Like I've said before, Seth really helped me learn everything. And it's just fun to watch Dan and Van. When you see them play, they're just both very emotional, especially Dan. It's something that, when you see it, you know that you have to match his energy on the court and give him what he's giving the rest of the team.
Bishop: The main thing they've taught me is that it's a process. It definitely takes time to build a winning culture. The sad thing is that they're only going to be here for this year before they leave and we're going to miss their leadership. The big thing that they stressed is sticking to it and believing in the process.
Nate: The thing I've learned the most is to try to follow in their footsteps and do what they do. They've been around enough and they know what to do.
Jordan: Basically, the advice they've given me is just keep your head up. When anything is going bad, it will get better. They always tell us to keep our heads up.
J.T.: I would say the most important thing I've learned from them is perseverance. Even when things might get rough at times and we might think the coaches are pushing us too hard, they were always there and kept pushing us and taught me to keep going no matter what.
What have you learned from them about leadership and being a good teammate?
Jeremy: I would say with Seth it's from a basketball perspective, staying calm and not letting the defense speed you up. A lot of times, it looks like he is taking his time, but he's still going by the defense and scoring buckets. Dan basically taught me to go hard 24/7. I feel like that's what he's all about.
Bishop: They all bring something different to the table. Seth is a natural leader - he gets us all going. Dan brings a lot of enthusiasm. Van has so much wisdom and has been around. You pick up things from him as a freshman and it's just really great to have those kind of guys around the program to look up to.
Nate: Seth has taught me that you've got to bring it every day and be a consistent guy, all the time. Never get down on yourself. Dan is the attitude guy. He wants us to always come with a positive attitude and high energy and we'll be good. Van is the guy that's not as outspoken as the other two. But if you need a buddy, he'll nudge up against you and let you know that he's got your back.
Jordan: Dan and Seth are more vocal leaders while Van is more of a leader by example. It's nice to get a different mix between the three of them.
J.T.: They taught me how to lead by example. That's the most important thing: to be a role model to your teammates on and off the court. And just be a good teammate - you can always help in some way. You can do something unselfish and they were definitely examples of the perfect traits of a good teammate.
What's one thing you'll miss about each of the seniors next season?
Jeremy: For Seth, I would say having that mentor to look up to. He's taught me a lot, so I'll be good. For Dan, I'd say his presence. He's just a fun, energetic guy. He's always high energy in the locker room or if I see him around campus. He's just always up and fun to be around. Van knows everything about everything. He's just very experienced and I know we'll miss that.
Bishop: I'm definitely going to miss Dan's pregame speeches in the huddle. He gets us hyped up and ready to play and ready to go after the guys we're playing against. With Seth, I'm going to miss him being out on the court. Whenever we need a go-to basket or we're in a little slump, he always provides something for us to get going. Van has been a mentor to me. We play the same position and he's always there encouraging me and giving me advice when I'm not playing well. I'm going to miss everything that those guys bring.
Nate: I'm going to miss Dan for his beard and sense of humor. I'll miss Seth because we get along really well and we have a lot in common. I'm going to miss Van because every time I make a joke and everyone just looks at me like `oh my gosh,' he will say "Nate, you're happy with yourself aren't you?" and I'll say I am, and he'll tell me "that's why you're funny."
Jordan: I'm going to miss Dan because he's just really funny. Anytime I see Dan, he just cracks me up or does something really silly. He just makes me laugh. Seth is also really funny, but we have great serious conversations as well. For Van, he's just always given me positive vibes. I'm going to miss all of them for things like that.
J.T.: I would say for Van, just his experience. It's like having a grandpa on the team. I'm going to miss Seth's good looks and his beard. For Dan, I've definitely got to go with his pregame speeches. He gets us so hyped up before the games.
Old Dominion Holds Off Men's Basketball, 63-53
Rice University men's basketball fought hard for 40 minutes, but the Owls were unable to deal Old Dominion its first home loss of the season in a 63-53 setback on Thursday night in front of 7,457 fans at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.