February 21, 2013
Green Wave has to guard against overconfidence at Rice
Nothing scares basketball coaches more than a road game against a bad team, and Tulane's trip to Rice this Saturday is the perfect illustration.
The Owls (5-20, 1-10 Conference USA) have been awful all year, never recovering from the sudden transfer of leading scorer and rebounder Arsalan Kazemi to Oregon in September. He was the last of four players to depart in a tumultuous offseason, leaving coach Ben Braun's team short on talent, depth and size.
Still, Rice has been competitive on occasion, beating Houston 79-69 at home on Jan. 30 and losing by 1 on the road to Marshall two weeks later. The Owls led Tulane (17-9, 5-6) early in the second half on Jan. 26 at Devlin Fieldhouse, and the Wave did not seal its 73-66 victory until the final three minutes.
The memory of that performance should be enough to prevent Tulane's players from overlooking the Owls.
"Very few teams have been able to execute offensively both halves against us the way Rice did," Tulane coach Ed Conroy said. "We were able to find a way to score more points than they did, but we really never stopped them. They caused us a lot of problems. I think our guys know what kind of challenge we're up against on Saturday."
If Rice shoots well and Tulane isn't ready to play, all of the momentum from a 3-1 stretch could disappear. The Wave, averaging 79.2 points in its last four games, has not played since last Saturday.
"As a coach you'd like to keep on playing," Conroy said. "Sometimes the off week comes at a time when you feel like you have a good rhythm, and you'd like to stay in that rhythm. It's just another challenge to see how mentally tough we are."
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