HOUSTON (WTVR) – Former VCU associate head coach Mike Rhoades was formally introduced as the new head coach at Rice University on Thursday, taking over an Owls program that finished just 7-23 this year and has won only 3 conference games in the past two seasons.
At Rice, Rhoades will find a challenge of not only rebuilding the Owl program, but doing so at a school with lofty academic expectations.
“I want to have a basketball program that believes in high academics and high level basketball” Rhoades said. “We’re going to do that here.”
“I was raised as a student-athlete, and academics are number one. You didn’t do the other stuff if you weren’t good at that.”
Rhoades was introduced by Athletic Director Joe Karlgaard, culminating a courtship that began halfway through the season, according to Rhoades' brother Jim told the Republican Herald in their hometown of Mahanoy City.
"(Rice) was in contact with my brother for a while," Jim Rhoades said. "They met with him during the season and after (VCU) lost their last game (to Stephen F. Austin in the NCAA Tournament) last week. They really made a strong bid to have him be their coach."
Rhoades has spent the past four years as Shaka Smart's top assistant at VCU, guiding the Rams to a CBI title in 2010, the Final Four in 2011, and a school record four straight NCAA appearances.
"Rice has made a phenomenal hire in Mike Rhoades," Smart said. "He's a tremendous person, a tireless worker and an inspiring leader. Over the past five years, Mike has been instrumental to our success and played a key role in literally every facet of our program. While it is sad to see him go, I am so excited for Mike and his family to be joining the Rice community. Great days are ahead."
"What I loved about working for Shaka and coaching there (VCU) is that we kept evolving" Rhoades said. "We kept changing our style of play. Everyone knows it as the "Havoc" style at VCU. We (Rice) definitely want to play like that."
Before VCU, Rhoades was head coach for 10 years at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, where he compiled a 72.2 winning percentage (197-76 record), leading the Yellow Jackets to four NCAA Tournament appearances, including trips to the Sweet 16 in 2002 and '03.
Rhoades' teams won six ODAC championships and earned national No. 1 rankings in two seasons. He was named ODAC Coach of the Year in three-straight seasons from 2001-03, coached three ODAC Players of the Year, five ODAC Freshmen of the Year as well as 17 first and second team all-ODAC selections. In 2003 he was named NABC South District Coach of the Year and State Coach of the Year by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.