BIRMINGHAM, AL (Conference USA Media Day) — The 2014-2015 Rice Owls will be the first season after Jessica Kuster. Kuster finished her stellar four-year Rice Owls career last season as the top scorer (2,081 points) in the history of Rice University basketball (men and women); the leading rebounder (1,376 rebounds); most double-doubles (67) in program history; most field goals made (745) and most free throws made (550).
In other words, the 2014-’15 Owls have massive shoes to fill.
Kuster averaged a team-leading 21 points per game last season. The second-highest scorer on last season’s squad averaged 7 points per game.
Get the picture?
Greg Williams, Rice Owls head coach, doesn’t expect one player to fill Kuster’s shoes. Williams is hoping each of his players will utilize a “next woman up” mindset which, collectively, will result in Kuster’s golden shoes being filled.
While Coach Williams is counting on a team-effort, he has high hopes for two of his freshmen players: Wendy Knight and Shani Rainey.
Knight (5’8″ / 5’9″) and Rainey (5’11” are two players Williams thinks “will play considerably” in the 2014-’15 season.
“Wendy Knight is, ironically, from Jessica Kuster’s high school — San Antonio Reagan,” Williams said. “In fact, she broke Jess’ high school scoring record. (But) I don’t anticipate her beating Jessica’s Rice record.
“But, Wendy was the San Antonio high school player of the year as a senior. She’s a true combination guard. One. Two. Which is hard to find. She will find herself – early with an injury to Maya Hawkins – playing a lot of one (point guard). She’s capable of doing that. She’s also a very good shooter. She’s very smart. She makes good basketball decisions. You’re comfortable with her on the floor with what she does; and, the decisions that she makes.
“She knows when to shoot. She sees the floor. She’s just a smart basketball player. She’s going to play a lot of minutes as a freshman.”
Next, Coach Williams described Shani Rainey’s skillset.
“Shani has stood early. The way freshmen standout early is, when you walk into a gym, and, if you didn’t know the team, you couldn’t pick out a freshmen. Shani is a very good defender. She’s 5’11. She’s a long, wing player. She’s already getting into passing lanes and getting a lot of steals which is something the team hasn’t had a lot of ability to do that in the past.
“She’s a real smart player. She plays with a lot of poise. She’s a great defender. She’s long. She’s quick. She competes. She takes pride in being a good defensive player. She’s aggressive and she’s very coachable. She was well coached in summer ball and in high school; and, she already understands a lot of man-to-man defensive principles compared to a high school player who played in a program that played all zone. Man-to-man defensive principles are all new to them.
“Shani plays with a lot of confidence.”
Coach Williams says Knight and Rainey play with a lot of confidence.
“Both of those young ladies have a lot of confidence and poise on the floor for freshmen. This early, it’s pretty evident they’re both going to get a lot of minutes; and, we’re going to need that.
“Both, Shani and Wendy come from outstanding high school programs as well as very top flight summer programs where they played 50 or 60 games on top of their high school season. They’re more game ready to come in and play as a freshman than a lot of players.”
Let the Post-Kuster Era begin.
Original article courtesy of Houston Roundball Review.