Soaring High

Houston-area talent help lift Rice Women's hoops to National Ranking

Houston-area talent help lift Rice Women's hoops to National Ranking
With the five former teammates back together, the chemistry has helped guide Rice. Via VYPE

Originally Appeared on VYPE


HOUSTON – When they were in high school, Olivia Ogwumike and Nancy Mulkey would talk about one day playing on the same college team.

Along with playing on the same high school team at Cypress Woods, where they won a state championship in 2015, Olivia, sister Erica and Mulkey also played on the same AAU team during the summer.

In the early 2010s, Erica and Olivia Ogwumike and Nancy Mulkey all suited up for Cy Fair Shock Elite along with The Woodlands' Nicole Iademarco.

"I just remember the fun times we had," Erica said. "Not even playing basketball sometimes. AAU you travel around the country, you play in the biggest tournaments and we would have fun just to go eat."

In that same organization, Kinkaid's Jasmine Smith played for the team just below at the time those four were there.

"It was funny because I remember them but they don't remember us," Smith, who is averaging 6.4 points per game, said with a laugh. "I was with the younger group, so we were their practice players. They made us better."

Now in 2019, after going their separate ways after high school, the group is back together at Rice University.

Erica, Iademarco, Mulkey and Smith, who is a freshman, are four of the starting five for the now-nationally ranked Rice Owls.

"We kind of talked about playing together in high school but didn't have the opportunity to right out," Iademarco said. "To be able to all transfer back home and play together has been a really special thing."


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Cristian Javier is in better shape this season. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.

Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).

Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.

But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.

In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.

Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.

The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.

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