Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer.
Once every four years, the NCAA allows basketball programs the opportunity for an international tour. The 2015-16 season marks the fourth year since former head coach Steve Prohm took the Racers to Toronto, Ontario Aug 4-9, 2011 in his first season in that role.
Murray State once again traveled to Canada for their foreign tour with a rookie head coach, this time playing two games in Ottawa and one in Montreal under the leadership of Matt McMahon.
In addition to the three exhibition games, the Racers were allowed 10 additional practices as preparation, which McMahon felt were just as important as the opportunity to travel.
“First and foremost are these 10 days of practice,” McMahon said. “Getting to build our team and really implement our defensive system, as well as a few offensive principles that we plan to use throughout the season, and get a little bit of a head start on our practice preparation for October.”
The Racers fell 81-57 to the University of Ottawa in their first matchup before finishing the tour with a 63-59 win over Carleton University and a 66-55 victory against Concordia University.
Junior point guard Bryce Jones, a transfer from Jones County Community College in Ellisville, Miss., kicked off his career as a Racer by putting up 34 points against the three games, while senior forward Jeffery Moss totaled 33. Junior guard Damarcus Croaker also made his debut as a Racer in Canada after being granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA, following his second semester transfer from the University of Texas last season.
Sophomore point guard Kedrick Flomo tallied 21 points during the tour, while senior forward Wayne Langston and junior guard Justin Seymour totaled 24 and 22, respectively.
The University of Ottawa lost in the Canadian national title game in March before taking their own summer tour in South Korea, while the Carleton University Ravens boast 11 of the last 13 Canadian national championship titles, including their current reign after defeating Ottawa earlier this year.
With seven new players and five returners in addition to Jonathan Stark, a junior transfer from Tulane University that will sit out during the 2015-16 season according to NCAA regulations, McMahon wanted his players to benefit from more than just in-game experience and focus on bonding through historic city tours, team meals and hours of communal travel.
“I would rank the games last on my list of priorities as far as the trip is concerned,” McMahon said. “Just the experience – the opportunity to travel together to Canada, see another country and spend that time together really creating that team chemistry that it’s going to take for us to have a successful season.”