While sitting in historic Racer Arena Sunday afternoon after signing thousands of autographs, the men’s basketball team watched with great expectation alongside Racer Nation as the announcement of their seeding and location for the Racers’ first game in the NCAA Tournament unfolded before them on dual screens.
At approximately 5:20 p.m. Racer Nation found out Murray State (30-1), a sixth seed, will play No. 11 seed Colorado State (20-11) on Thursday at 11:15 a.m. CST in the Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
“I was just excited to see our names on the screen and I was excited to see us on the TV screen,” senior guard Jewuan Long said. “I forgot all about the seeding and what our ranking was and where we were playing so I had to ask people later on where we were playing, I was just excited.”
The excitement was experienced by more than just the team as the crowd of Racer fans decked out in blue and gold exploded with cheers when the announcement was made. It is those fans the Racers’, who will go into the tournament with the best season record, are most concerned with, even over their own seeding.
“I’m just excited more than anything knowing that we are close to home and our fans actually have a chance to come to the NCAA game,” junior guard Isaiah Canaan said. “We’re going to need them just as much as they’re going to need us. Just to know that we were close, whether we were a six seed or a three, four or five, we’ll take the location over that any day, we’re just excited.”
Senior guard Donte Poole, who was recruited by Colorado State and spent a summer there in high school, said he hoped the fans would make the trip to Louisville, but Long said he isn’t concerned about fans driving to Louisville.
“I don’t think we have to hope too much about Racer Nation showing up, I think that’s a guarantee,” Long said. “I’m glad we got in Louisville and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of blue and gold in our game. I’m just excited.”
Murray State Head Coach Steve Prohm said he was glad the reveal was over so the team can begin preparing for Colorado State, a team he doesn’t know much about.
“I can’t even go into much to speak intelligently on Colorado State because I’d be making stuff up,” Prohm said. “I’ve got to get to work tonight. I’ll watch two tapes tonight and then I’ll watch two in the morning before I go to practice and I’ll have a good feel for them before practice. I’ll have a good feel for them after I watch a couple games tonight.”
The team will have regular practice Monday then again Tuesday morning before leaving for Louisville Tuesday night. A six seed is lower than what Prohm envisioned for the Racers but said one thing would make the ranking acceptable.
“If they put us in Louisville as a sixth seed because of location, then I hope we do have 7,000 to 8,000, 9,000 fans from Murray come out and support us,” Prohm said. “I hope we have the state really come over there and support us and make that worthwhile.”
Photos by Greg Johnson/The News