HOUSTON, Texas - Rice University men's basketball seniors Seth Gearhart, Van Green and Dan Peera take the court at Tudor Fieldhouse for the final time on Saturday night as the squad looks for a season sweep over Charlotte. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. In their time on campus - four years for Gearhart and Peera, one for Green - this year's class has exemplified what it means to be a Rice student-athlete. The group will be missed once they graduate this spring, not just by their teammates in the basketball program, but by many others throughout campus.
Julie Griswold, Associate Director of Academic Advising for Athletics:
I've been the advisor for Dan and Seth for four years. They both have done a really good job. From the get-go, they were both hard workers and they ask all the right questions. Seth and Dan were our Scholar Athletes this year, too.
Seth is an Economics major and is interested in finance. He's direct and does a good job on his own. I help him plan his schedule and he comes and finds me when he needs me. I'm proud of Seth as I see him play so well this year as he takes care of his stuff in the classroom. He's taken ownership of his accomplishments and I think he'll do really well in the real world.
Dan has always been a guy that likes to take interesting classes. As an engineer, he's got a lot of requirements; but he's also taken Portuguese and Theater classes. He wants to enjoy his classes as well while he takes care of engineering as he goes along. Most engineers don't do that kind of thing.
They both just have their noses to the grindstone and work really hard. To see a lot of their success, they've really done a nice job in their academic careers. I'd take another 100 like them. They're really hard workers.
Van is pretty directed. He came in with his feet on the ground and immediately started working toward what he needed to do to get his master's degree. He's been thoughtful about the classes he takes and he's really respectful and responsible. Van gets really good grades and I don't have to worry about him. He is taking care of his business and he's a good role model for the freshmen. He shows good work ethic. It's been a pleasure to have him around.
Adam Gierlach (Rice, '12), Rice Basketball Video Coordinator:
I don't know if there's anyone that has gone through the gamut of relationships that we have; from being a manager and playing on the scout team with them, playing in open gym sessions with them, and then being a video coordinator and assistant coach on their staff. It's unique that they came in with a heralded class that had a lot of talent and expectations. Looking at that class, a lot of people might have said that Dan and Seth were just throw-ins or were just there to boost the team GPA. It's unique that they're the only ones left standing and at the end of the day they will be the ones that made a significant impact on the culture of Rice Basketball. They're both tremendous people and they've evolved a lot over their four years. They came in with that heralded class and now they're featured players.
I can't say enough about Dan. He's a self-made player to the point where he didn't even start on his high school's varsity basketball team and now he's playing significant minutes in Division I games and making a tremendous impact. That's a testament to his will and his work ethic.
The same goes for Seth. He had a great high school career and won a ton of games playing for a great coach. Seth was always a really intelligent player, especially when he got here. Under Coach Rhoades, he's really taken that next step. Coach Rhoades hasn't accepted anything less than Seth's best and Seth has given his best consistently throughout the year and it's resulted in what you're seeing on the court now.
Van has meant an incredible amount to us. He's been a real stabilizing factor with his experience and his ability to pull the younger guys aside and talk to them on a peer level about the preparation and their approach and what they need to bring. He brings maturity to the bench and helps to keep our guys level-headed. Obviously, he brings a lot of athleticism when he gets into the game on offensive rebounds, driving the ball, scoring in transition and being able to guard more athletic players. His experience and maturity has really meant a lot for us and has been a tremendous counter to some of the youth that we have.
Lauren Cavallaro, Director for Student Athlete Development:
Seth and Dan are kids that lead by example, which is really cool. They are always doing the right thing and they're always a step ahead of what needs to get done. That's been really neat to watch and see how they've grown with that as they get older. They're two guys you can always trust and I have complete confidence in what they're going to do after graduation. That's the type of people they are. They're hard workers and they are super-motivated. They're always looking out for each other and others. I think they're going to be greatly missed, not just on the court but as people and as part of a team. They're definitely kids that we're proud to say that we worked with them and proud that they played at Rice.
In the short time Van has been here, he's definitely stepped up and has been that same type of person. He's been a role model, and he's so motivated. He wants to be the best at everything. Even though he hasn't been here that long, it's really inspiring. I'm sad he didn't get to hang around here longer.
I'll think of Dan`s energy and enthusiasm. He's great with that and you just can't match it. For Seth, he's just always there as support. He's so consistent and you're never going to worry about him. You never think, "Is Seth going to work hard today?" You know he's going to push himself and be great every day. That's what you want as a senior and as a leader on your team. They've been through a lot. For them to be where they are as a team right now says so much about their character and how they've led through transition and change and so much adversity. Look at them now: they're having a season better than anyone predicted, and they're set up for after they graduate too. They definitely took care of business on every single end. They're the type of kids that do everything you hope that they will do when they come here. They performed well in the classroom, they played well on the court and they set themselves up for success in their career paths once they graduate. You can't ask for anything better than that.
Dean Miller, Associate Head Athletic Trainer:
Van has been a great addition. He's shown a whole lot of maturity, which has kind of led our team. I think a lot of the younger kids are looking up to him. He's a great student and a great individual. He's got a great background coming from Columbia University and doing the graduate program at Rice - I think it's given the whole team a chance to see the future, so to speak, and see what someone can accomplish. He's done a great job with that and he's been an exact replica of what you want if you're looking for someone as a role model. He's phenomenal and he's been a real pleasure to work with.
What can you say about Dan? He's a walk-on who came here who has a great background from De La Salle High School in California with a great basketball coach there and a great tradition from all sports. He's come here and demonstrated not only leadership but a tremendous amount of energy all the time. With some limited skill on the basketball floor, he makes up for it with a great deal of maturity and energy and life. He's just a pleasure to have around. I love his parents and his family and he's just a tremendous kid.
And what do you say about Seth? He came here as a large kid with some talent, but probably not as talented as a lot of players in Conference USA. I think as a basketball player, he's stepped up and done a great job. He's not only a scorer, but he's got great rebounding skills and he's adapted to two different systems since he's been here and has done very well and has gotten a lot of playing time. I think this team, and everybody, is going to miss his leadership and his ability to go out there and get the job done. He's another great kid with a phenomenal family with great support. I really wish him well in the future. All three of those guys are just dynamic kids.
Their growth has been phenomenal, because you wouldn't have had much of an expectation when they came in as freshmen. That was a 19-win team that went on to a post-season tournament and did well with a lot of individual stars, including a future NBA Draft pick. To see what they've done and their `stick-to-it-iveness' through a lot of turmoil in the program is what impresses me the most about them as people.
J.P. Heath, Voice of the Owls:
My first year broadcasting at Rice was when Seth and Dan were sophomores, so I saw Seth go from a player that was coming off a freshman year where didn't play a lot. He ended up being a pretty good contributor that season and was even more of a solid contributor his junior year. I don't think many expected the tripling of his scoring average and passing several milestones that he's done. And seeing the way he's become a leader has probably been the most impressive part; seeing him take the younger guys and being a leader with his firm hand.
Seeing Seth on the bus or other times on the road, he's the conduit between the coaching staff and the rest of the team. He's taken ownership of it and he makes guys behave, for lack of a better term. He's not disciplining them, but he is getting them to recognize that it's a special time of year. When I interview Coach Rhoades about them, he talks about a light flicking on for Seth. You can see as we get through the schedule, he's realizing this is a really important time for him to continue to lead the way he has blossomed into that role.
With Dan, it's a bit of the same. He didn't play a lot early on in his career but has blossomed into a really reliable guy as Coach has things getting turned around. You can count on him for big hustle plays nearly every game. I remember sitting in film sessions with the team when Dan gets singled out for his hustle, and he just says "That's what I do" because he's a consummate team player.
Unfortunately, I haven't known Van for as long, but in interviews with him, I love the way he's so community oriented. He's talked about going through some hard things, but he wants to give back. He'll have degrees from Columbia and Rice, and he wants to go and give back to his community. It's a great story that Rice gets to go play the conference tournament in his home town. I think that's a neat thing for him.
Men's Basketball Races Past Charlotte in Overtime
Seth Gearhart and Max Guercy scored five points apiece in overtime to lead Rice University men's basketball to a thrilling 73-68 win at Charlotte on Saturday evening at Halton Arena.