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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Scott Pera: "I think, with the addition of Josh Parrish, we've got an opportunity to take a huge step forward for the program and build something special at Rice."

Rice University

September 26, 2018

Tuesday afternoon, Rice Owls men's basketball head coach Scott Pera held the Owls' first official basketball practice of the 2018-'19 season. The Owls did not practice Wednesday. Coach Pera took a few minutes to discuss the first day of practice; the team's summer trip to Spain; his 2018-'19 team; and more.

Here's the Q&A:

The HRR: How was the first official day of practice of the 2018-'19 season?

Coach Pera: It went very well. I'm very pleased. The trip this summer really helped in terms of being ahead of the game in terms of terminology and drills. I thought, for a first practice, we were pretty sharp; and, we executed. I thought the guys' effort was tremendous.

The HRR: You mentioned the summer trip. The team went to Spain. Describe how the trip went.

Coach Pera: The trip was a win all the way around for us. And, I don't just say that because we won all three games. I just mean because of the time that we spent together. The cultural experience. The educational piece to it. The three beautiful cities we visited. And, then, obviously, competing together for the first time in games. And, winning all three in close fashion was a big benefit for us; so, it was just a tremendous trip.

The HRR: How does an overseas trip come about. Who arranges the trip? Do the coaches plan it? How does it work?

Coach Pera: Well, we can make an overseas trip every four years. We didn't do it last year. Since we have five freshmen coming into the program, I thought it would be a perfect time to do it; and, it worked out really well. We won; but, most importantly, nobody got hurt.

The HRR: Which players stood out for you on the trip? And, who stood out in Tuesday's practice?

Coach Pera: Well, I think our three leaders right now are Jack Williams, Josh Parrish, and Ako Adams.

Jack Williams is a fifth-year transfer from Pacific. He's played a lot of college basketball in a very good league -- the WCC (West Coast Conference); so, he's a veteran guy that's ready to step in with scoring and rebounding.

Josh Parrish, the transfer from TCU who sat out all last year, was very consistent and performed well.

And, then, Ako Adams, who is our returning point guard -- we have high expectations for him; and, he performed well also.

The HRR: With this being your second season at Rice as head coach, how will this season be different from last season?

Coach Pera: Well, I think in a lot of ways. Number one for me, personally, I'm a much better place. Hurricane Harvey, obviously, shook the entire city; but, it affected my family; my house; my neighborhood. And trying to run a basketball program as a first-year head coach, that made that very challenging from October to all the way to December.

The HRR: How are you and your family now?

Coach Pera: We're great. Fortunately, we got things back in right around January; but, for our neighborhood, it wasn't as great. We feel fortunate that it wasn't as bad for us that it was for a lot of neighbors. Many, many homes that were right next to me or down the street from me that are still being rebuilt. We're just appreciative that it wasn't as bad as some; and, we just try to reach out and help and do whatever we can to help others.

The HRR: You mentioned you have freshman on this year's squad. Tell me something about those five guys.

Coach Pera: I think it's a special group. I really do. They come from all over the country: from Washington D.C. (6'9", Quentin Millora-Brown); to Dallas, TX (6'3" Chris Mullins); to Chicago (6'8" Drew Peterson); to Los Angeles (6'4" Payton Moore); to Durham, NC (6'7" Trey Murphy III). They're all about the right things. They're all very, very coachable guys. They all have unique and specific skillsets. I think they will blend well together. As they continue to mature and put on weight and improve, we should see good things from all of them. This year I'm hoping.

The HRR: Who do you have on the nonconference schedule this season?

Coach Pera: Houston at Texas Southern (H&PE Arena) for their home game, NCAA Tournament team; at Wichita State, NCAA Tournament team. We play at BYU; at Texas State; along with Northwestern State; UT Rio Grande Valley. It's a very challenging schedule. We're looking forward to it.

The HRR: How has the student-body embraced the team this season?

Coach Pera: I think they're excited. The last two student-bodies have been two of the largest that Rice has admitted. We've done a really good job of trying to reach out to them and get them involved. Hopefully, that will carry throughout the season.

The HRR: One last thing, just encourage everyone to come see you guys play this season.

Coach Pera: I think we've got an exciting group of young guys. I think, with the addition of Josh Parrish, we've got an opportunity to take a huge step forward for the program and build something special at Rice. We feel that Tudor Fieldhouse is a great place to come and watch a basketball game and watch an exciting young group.

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