Thursday, January 17, 2013

Geneva College's New Freshman Sensation

Brian Rice of Geneva College
I can't tell you how many times I have had the following dream: I am playing a pick-up game when I realize that I have one more year of college basketball eligibility left.  As a slow, out of shape, forty-something, 6'7" former post player with no vertical leap, but who still believes that he can teach the youngsters a thing or two about how to operate in the paint or throw the Wes Unseld-like outlet pass, I decide to lace up the "high-tops" for one more try.  I enroll in college and make an appointment to meet with the basketball coach. It is usually at this point--before I even step onto the court for my first practice--that I wake up.

Brian Rice, a forty three-year old Navy veteran, has yet to wake up.  He is playing NCAA Division III basketball at Geneva College, a sister school of my own institution, Messiah CollegeRead his story at ESPN.  Here is a taste:

Brian Rice was a child of the '80s, a high school senior when Ronald Reagan was president, Ice-T was hot and people still didn't know if Michael Jordan would ever win an NBA championship.

When Rice graduated in June of 1987, he thought about playing college basketball. As a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, he'd averaged about 15 points and six rebounds a game at New Castle (Pa.) High, so he was sure he could probably play at a small school somewhere.

Yet Rice knew he wasn't ready for college.

"I knew I needed to get some more discipline," he says.

So Rice put college aside and joined the Navy. College and basketball could wait. He had time. What's four years to an 18-year-old?

Four years, however, turned into 24½, and by the time Chief Petty Officer Rice left the Navy on Jan. 31, 2012, he was a couple of laps past 40, an age when most hoopsters spend their days remembering their jump shots, not hoisting new ones.

Rice, however, knew he could still play.

And, after enrolling at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., last February and then trying out for the team this fall, Rice not only earned a roster spot as a 43-year-old freshman, but has earned the respect of his coach and teammates. 

Not to take away from a great story, but Geneva's basketball team is currently 1-15.  Sorry to mention this, Eric Miller.

HT: Greg Jones