As you've probably already heard, Oklahoma State didn't make the tournament this year. So instead of drinking ourselves silly and talking about Football, we've adopted 4 teams that we are going to follow throughout this tournament. This is the first preview of four.
Location: Murray, Kentucky
Head Coach: Steve Prohm
Mascot: Racer One (live thoroughbred); Dunker (costumed)
Notable Alumni: Jim Varney (You may know him as Ernest RIP), Chris Thile (Nickel Creek)
Isaiah Canaan, 6-2, Jr., (19.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 assists)
Donte Poole, 6-3, Sr., (14.2, 3.7, 1.5)
Jewuan Long, 6-1, Sr., (8.5, 3.0, 2.6)
Ivan Aska, 6-7, Sr.(10.9, 5.7)
Edward Daniel, 6-7, Jr., (6.9, 5.3)
Key reserves: Zay Jackson, G, 6-foot, Fr. (4.9, 2.1); Stacy Wilson, 6-3, Jr., F, (4.4, 0.9); Latreze Mushett, 6-5, Jr., G, (4.4, 5.0)
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The Murray State Racers come in to this tournament at 30-1 and are the only team that is unbeaten on the road this season. Say what you want about their conference, but that’s impressive.
The Racers are an experienced team led by 6-2 Junior Guard, Isaiah Canaan. Canaan averages about 20 points a game and he’s made almost half of his three point attempts this season. He’s joined by Senior guard Donte Poole. Together, they’ve made 160 3’s. That sounds like a recipe for mid major tourney success to me.
Murray State also has the experience factor that is so valuable come tourney time. Their starting lineup consists of 3 seniors and 2 juniors. Every single one of them played in the NCAA Tournament upset of Vanderbilt two years ago. Oh, and they play suffocating man to man defense. The Racers gave up just two points in the final 5 ½ minutes of their conference tourney championship win. Defense wins ballgames.
So what is this team’s weakness? Size. The Racers don’t have any starters taller than 6-7. They have a tendency to get outrebounded. It’s small ball at its finest.
The last thing of importance here is where the Racers will play. Head Coach Steve Prohm expressed his desire to play close to home in lieu of a lower seed and he’ll get just that. The Racers will tip off at 11:15am on Thursday against 11th seeded Colorado State, in Louisville. It should be close to a home crowd for the Racers, which is exactly what this team needs to make a splash.