Teams picked near top at media day

Jenny Rohl/Contributing photographer Junior forward Jarvis Williams dunks the ball in a practice in the Racers’ new practice gym.
Jenny Rohl/Contributing photographer Junior forward Jarvis Williams dunks the ball in a practice in the Racers’ new practice gym.

Jenny Rohl/Contributing photographer
Junior forward Jarvis Williams dunks the ball in a practice in the Racers’ new practice gym.

The men’s and women’s basketball programs got to see where they are predicted to finish for their 2013-2014 seasons, which tip off in a few weeks.

At the OVC’s Media Day Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn., men’s basketball was selected as a co-favorite in the West Division, and the women’s team was selected fourth.

It was a repeat of last season’s preseason polling, which put the teams in the same spots.

Coming off a West Division championship and a loss in the conference’s championship game, the men’s team was selected as co-favorites in the West Division, tying with Southeast Missouri State with 117 points.

The Redhawks earned 13 first-place votes, while the Racers earned the remaining 11 first-place votes.

The Racers are coming off a 21-10 season and will have to replace four starters from last year’s team.

Head Coach Steve Prohm said he is excited for the season to begin and for the players to decide the standings.

“I think it says a lot about the tradition of how good a program we have here at Murray State,” Prohm said. “Our goal of winning a conference championship doesn’t change, regardless of who we do and don’t have.”

Coaches and Sports Information Directors submitted their votes before redshirt sophomore point guard Zay Jackson suffered a season-ending injury.

“Whether it’s nine guys like we have eligible right now or 10 guys in January, the goals can’t change because of where we are at,” Prohm said.

Much like the men’s team, the women’s program is looking to replace the majority of its team with only one starter and five players returning from last year’s squad, which finished with a 16-13 record.

Head Coach Rob Cross said he was surprised by the coaches’ selection of the team due to the amount of new faces the team has this year.

“It’s not about where you are predicted at the beginning of the season, but it’s about where you are when the season is over,” Cross said. “I’m really surprised because we lost our top six scorers from last year’s team.”

The Racers were chosen to finish fourth in the West Division behind preseason favorites UT Martin, SIU Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois.

“I don’t think anybody knows how the league is going to go,” Cross said. “It may be a sign of respect to what we did last year, or a sign of respect to Jessica Winfrey, with us being picked where we are and so young.”

Also announced at the media event was the preseason All-OVC teams.

Neither the men’s nor women’s team had a player selected for the preseason honors that go to the conference’s best players.

Last season the men’s team had two players and the women’s team had one player selected.

“I’ll tell it to the team and tell them that nobody in this league thought you were worthy of it, and hopefully they can use it as motivation,” Prohm said. “We’re going to have to win collectively as a team. That’s what it says to me.”

The men’s and women’s teams will each host an exhibition game at the CFSB Center in preparation for the upcoming season.

The men host Freed-Hardeman at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 and the women’s team hosts Berea at 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

 

Story by Tom Via, Staff Writer