Story by Kelsey Randolph, Sports Editor
Returning from a 29-6 season and a record-breaking 25-win streak, the men’s basketball team looks to begin its season with a new coach and six new players.
The Racers ended their conference play with a heartbreaking lost to Belmont 88-87, in the OVC Championship game. During the summer, the Racers lost former Head Coach Steve Prohm to Iowa State but gained a familiar face in Matt McMahon.
Sending the team to Canada, the Racers were able to play together and begin play. McMahon said with 10 practices over the summer and seven, 30-minutes workouts the team is familiar with one another and has a grasp on what it takes to play with each other.
They began practice Monday, Oct. 5 for their first full practice of the season.
“We’re really excited to get underway officially on the court,” McMahon said. “Hopefully we benefited from the trip to Canada. Hopefully we’ll be able to handle the pace of practice and be faster. We have a lot of terminology and drills our guys are familiar with already I just really want to have an up tempo, high-energy practice.”
Returning from the 2014-15 season are seniors Wayne Langston, Jeffery Moss and Terron Gilmore, juniors Damarcus Croaker, Gee McGhee and Justin Seymour and sophomore Kedrick Flomo.
Seymour, a 6-foot-3-inch guard from Atlanta, averaged 20.3 minutes of playing time and 7.1 points per game, traveled with the team to Canada during the summer and said he saw big improvement in the way the team works together.
“It’s good, we still have to build,” Seymour said. “Some guys we’ve only known two months and we already do have some relationships but we have to continue to build them and build them as quick as we can.”
McMahon sees potential leadership in several of the returning members but said the guys are working every day for the starting position because they need to evaluate every aspect of the game and every day is an open tryout. The team must fall in line during every practice and McMahon wants to see the guys competing for the role on the team, he said.
“I want to see us continue to improve from a leadership standpoint and a lot of that falls on Wayne, Moss and also Seymour that we can continue to do from a communication standpoint,” McMahon said. “They have to talk more to the team; they’ve got to show some growth in that regard. We’re going to emphasize in practices that I haven’t been around a good team that’s a quiet team. We want a high energy level and we’re never going to let up on that.”
New to the team this season are juniors Bryce Jones from Brooklyn, New York, A.J. Patty from Westchester, Illinois, Jonathan Stark from Munford, Tennessee, freshmen Brion Sanchious from Pompano, Florida, Chad Culbreath from Ripley, Tennessee and Charles Brown from New Orleans. McMahon and Seymour both said with a few workouts during the summer they’ve seen the younger guys step up and take initiative.
“Sanchious stands out because he gained so much weight and is such a physical presence and he’s very young but everybody is working hard no matter what,” Seymour said.
McMahon said it’s been a big turnaround for the younger and new members but he feels confident that the terminology is key and the team has benefited from a strong knowledge and understanding of the defensive rules.
Not only are there six new faces on the team but McMahon is respectively new and brings along James Kane who originally was brought on by Prohm in 2011, Tim Kaine and Shane Nichols as assistant coaches. With a new head coach, Seymour said he can see things changing but they are for the better.
“With Coach Mac being a new coach you just want to be there to help him,” Seymour said. “He has an idea of how things are done but people just have to follow what he says. Me, Wayne and Moss just have to reinforce what he says. There’s no reason nobody else should be doing what we’re doing.”
McMahon said he believes the team is ready to practice and put forth its best effort and he has high hopes for the team.
The Racers begin their non-conference with an exhibition game against Freed-Hardeman on Nov. 11 then face Harris-Stowe State on Nov. 13. with conference play beginning Jan. 2 against Morehead State.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity and to get the chance to do it at Murray State,” McMahon said. “It’s a tradition here – a good fan base and incredible support from everyone. I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity to have these guys. I definitely wake up every morning with a plan to make sure I take full advantage of it.”