Murray State Racers
Overall Rank: #132
Conference Rank: #2 Ohio Valley
2010-11: 23-9, 14-4
2010-11 postseason: NIT
Coach: Steve Prohm (First season at Murray State, 0-0 overall)
The expectations at Murray State are not as high this year after Coach Billy Kennedy left for Texas A&M and the team lost three starters. However, Coach Steve Prohm, a long-time assistant to Coach Kennedy, should keep things running smoothly for now. The return of Isaiah Canaan will not hurt either. Canaan led the Racers with 11.7 points per game last year and is a superb outside shooter and slasher. The only other returning player in the backcourt is the oft-injured Jewaun Long. Long started a handful of games last year and could be asked to do much more for his senior season if the newcomers are not ready to make an immediate impact. Senior wing Donte Poole is in a similar situation, but he has had a tough time making a large contribution and the newcomers will push him for minutes.
The loss of B.J. Jenkins and Isacc Miles will totally alter the backcourt. Those two combined averaged 21.8 points, 7.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals. That is a lot of production to replace. The other lost starter is small forward Jeffery McClain. He was never a big scorer, but he did do all the little things and his absence will not garner as many headlines as Jenkins and Miles, but it may end up being just as important. Big men Shawn Jackson and Chris Griffin did not play much last season, but on a team that is in need of more post players, their departures are noteworthy.
Zay Jackson may not be the most talented newcomer, but he could be the most important. The 6-0 guard with a slight build is quick and explosive and can create for his teammates. He also has a nice looking outside shot and can score from just about anywhere on the floor. His lack of strength will be an issue, but if he can take over the point guard duties, the Racers will be in good shape. Jaylen Bland and Tyler Rambo will look to add some depth on the wings. However, the newcomers who will make the big splash on the wing are UMKC transfer Latreze Mushatt and junior college transfer Stacy Wilson. Two years ago Mushatt averaged 11.3 points and 5.6 rebounds for UMKC and the 6-5 senior should step right into a starting role. Wilson’s experience at the junior college level will help give Coach Prohm plenty of talented options in the backcourt. The Racers picked up 6-9 center Harley Nussman late in the process. He will need some time to develop his game, but he could be forced into action this year if the Racers do not want to play small.
Who to Watch:
The Racers do have a couple quality forwards in Edward Daniel and Ivan Aska. Daniel only averaged 17.8 minutes per game last season, but he averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds. The Racers will need him to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble more this year or their lineup will be very, very small. Ivan Aska took a small step backwards in 2010-2011 after having a breakout year as a sophomore. Aska still led the team with 5.2 rebounds per game and is the Racers wide-bodied scoring option in the paint. While those two should do fine, the question is the depth behind them. Brandon Garrett, a junior college transfer, was a big disappointment last season. He has plenty of talent and could turn into a superb option off of the bench, but if he does not, this team does not have a player with enough size or experience to fill in at the four.
The starting five is pretty good and this group should be in the mix for an Ohio Valley championship once again. The play at point guard is an issue, as is the depth in the frontcourt, but there are some options, even though they may be unproven. An offseason summer tour will give the Racers some extra practices to work out their kinks and by the time the conference season rolls around Murray State will be right where they always are; towards the top of the OVC standings.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Zay Jackson, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Isaiah Canaan, Junior, Guard, 11.7 points per game
Latreze Mushatt, Senior, Guard, DNP last season
Edward Daniel, Junior, Forward, 6.2 points per game
Ivan Aska, Senior, Forward, 7.6 points per game
Check out another article about Murray State men’s basketball