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A Payne-full goodbye

Haley Hays/The News Sophomore point guard, Cameron Payne goes up for a shot against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Haley Hays/The News
Sophomore point guard, Cameron Payne goes up for a shot against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Fans filled the Racer Room of the CFSB Center and fruit trays were present in lieu of the typical press conference pizza. Almost the whole team was present, and fans young and old filled the seats behind the usual beat reporters.

There were three cameras filming instead of the usual one, and the statistic sheet being handed out donned four pictures of sophomore point guard Cameron Payne. It was obvious this was more than a press conference. This was a going away party.

Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Dave Winder lovingly introduced Payne and Head Coach Steve Prohm to the crowd, foreshadowing the speeches to come.

“It’s good to see so many friends and fans and teammates and coaches here to support Cameron,” Winder said. “I think we all agree that we love him. And we love Coach Prohm, too. And I’m just glad to support Cameron in what he’s about to tell you here today.”

Prohm opened the floor by listing just some of Payne’s many accolades.

  • Fourth player in Murray State history to score 700 points in a single season
  • Second player in Murray State history with 200 assists, three away from the all-time record
  • Second fastest player to reach 1,000 points
  • Third most efficient player in the country according to kenpom.com
  • OVC Player of the Year
  • Lute Olson Player of the Year
  • CBS All-American

… Continue Reading

WHAT’S NEXT?

Haley Hays/The News Prohm watches as the Racers play Eastern Illinois Feb. 26 at the CFSB Center.

Haley Hays/The News
Prohm watches as the Racers play Eastern Illinois Feb. 26 at the CFSB Center.

Racer basketball fans lay in wait as the futures of sophomore point guard Cameron Payne and senior forward Jarvis Williams are decided throughout the next few weeks. Articles on Payne, who has been unavailable for comment, have been circulating on the Internet speculating that he is leaning toward entering the NBA draft.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports first reported Payne’s inclination toward the draft in an article published Tuesday. According to Wojnarowski’s unnamed sources, Payne and his family have been hosting presentations from several NBA agents in their hometown of Memphis, Tenn., this week.

Draft Express has Payne currently placed as the No. 30 overall pick in the first round, while ESPN’s Chad Ford said Payne ranges in the No. 14-No. 23 picks for the first round.

CBS Sports released a list Wednesday of every player who has announced their intentions to enter the draft, and Payne remained unlisted. … Continue Reading

The road ends here

Photo by Jenny Rohl/The News

Photo by Jenny Rohl/The News

It was a fairytale season with a nightmare of an ending – an ending that was all too familiar for the Murray State Racers as they lost on a buzzer-beater three from Old Dominion University on Wednesday during the quarterfinal game of the National Invitation Tournament at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va.

After junior forward Jeffery Moss hit a 3-pointer to tie it up with just nine seconds left on the clock, it appeared the Racers had come back to push the game to overtime. The sellout crowd in the Convocation Center fell silent until the Monarch’s junior guard Trey Freeman shocked not just the fans, but the nation with a deep three to end the Racers’ season 72-69.

The last-second shot echoed the OVC Championship game against Belmont when the Racers lost in the last seconds pushing them out of the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m extremely hurt for my guys,” said Head Coach Steve Prohm. “We’re 27 and two in our last 29 games, and both our games we’ve lost on a fadeaway 3 and a bank 3-pointer. God’s blessed this team abundantly.”

Down by 10 points with 3:39 to play, the Racers stepped it up in the final minutes of the game in hopes of ending their season in New York, but instead Old Dominion was able to finish out a perfect home season with their 20th consecutive home win. … Continue Reading

Racer fans gather for food, festivities at Tequila Cowboy

Jenny Rohl/The News Cheerleaders form a tunnel outside Tequila Cowboy March 7 in Nashville, Tenn., to welcome Racer fans to the Alumni Association’s pregame event.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Cheerleaders form a tunnel outside Tequila Cowboy March 7 in Nashville, Tenn., to welcome Racer fans to the Alumni Association’s pregame event.

Racer Nation took over Nashville, Tenn., this weekend, and the Alumni Association brought all the blue and gold to one location Saturday night before the championship game against Belmont. Before the heartbreaking loss, fans were hopeful as they crowded the upper level of Tequila Cowboy Bar and Grill to eat, drink and enjoy live music from the Racer Band.

Rachel Foley, the Racer to Racer Coordinator of Alumni Affairs, was pleased with  the turnout. In years past, the Alumni Association has held similar events at Bailey’s Sports Grille in downtown Nashville, Tenn. The Tequila Cowboy is kid-friendly and offered the chance for whole families to attend.

Free items such as rally towels, Koozies and Dunker signs were handed out, and the $10 cover charge covered the cost of pizza, salad and drinks. A signed basketball was also given away to one lucky fan in a drawing. Foley said she thought the snow combined with the Racers’ successful season is what brought so many Racer fans to Nashville, Tenn., for the weekend.

“Even though we had the snowstorm, with it being sunny and everything and the great season that we’ve had, I think that this is a far bigger crowd than we’ve ever had in the past,” Foley said.

Alumni and current students packed the balcony and the bar at Tequila Cowboy as they came together to celebrate the regular season and prepare for the final game of the tournament. Murray State alumni Chris and Lacosta Hays of Murray were also celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary March 7.

“These events are great,” Lacosta said. “It’s really great to get everybody together to come kind of rally and get ready for the big game. It’s just a great experience. With lots of fun things going on in Nashville, anyways, when Murray comes to Nashville it just brings it all together and makes it that much better.”

Win or lose, many Racer fans travel to watch the tournament every year. Aimee Graves, a second-year graduate student from Murray, has attended the OVC Tournament almost every year since her first time in 2001.

“I grew up doing it,” Graves said. “My grandparents used to have season tickets back in Racer Arena, so I was kind of indoctrinated very young into being a Murray State fan, and it just kind of stuck.”

Foley said that fans, such as Graves, are what make the basketball program and the University in general so special. Gathering to reminisce the past and support the future is what events like this pregame party are all about.

“I think that as Racer Nation, we’re a community and we stick together through everything,” Foley said. “And I think that whether our team does good or bad, we’re always there to support them. I just think that the crowd at tonight’s event goes to show the commitment that the community has to supporting the University and the team.”

Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor

TALK OF THE TWITTERSPHERE: SEYMOUR’S PLEA GAINS NATIONAL ATTENTION

March 12, 2015 Athletics, Basketball
Jenny Rohl/The News Sophomore guard Justin Seymour reacts to the Racers’ March 7 loss to Belmont.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Sophomore guard Justin Seymour reacts to the Racers’ March 7 loss to Belmont.

    “I must say congratulations to Belmont on winning the OVC conference tournament and receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. I’m sure that anyone who is a true college basketball fan can appreciate the level at which we both played. I’m sure that many will agree that our game vs. Belmont was one of the best games this year. We left all we had on the court. 2nd, I’d like to congratulate my teammates on winning the OVC regular season championship. And on having the 2nd longest winning streak in men’s basketball this season with 25 consecutive wins. Proud of the fact that we put our heart and soul into accomplishing something that few have EVER done in the history of college basketball. We will carry that with us for a lifetime and no one can take that away from us (not even the NCAA.) Speaking of the NCAA…I won’t use this space to appeal to our almighty governing body as to why we should appear in the NCAA tournament. I mean, if you’ve watched us at all, that should be a no brainer. We actually earned and deserve any opportunity to participate in the NCAA tournament based on merit alone…but for some reason most of the national media have already abandoned the concept of merit and accepted the have’s vs. have not’s narrative. At around 6pm Sunday March 15, The NCAA will be given the perfect opportunity to stand on America’s core values of equality and fairness. Will the NCAA continue to speak up for the have’s while minimizing the have not’s? Will the NCAA treat us as equals or show us that we’re anything but equal? I chose to ask these questions and write my closing arguments today, a week before deliberations begin and the verdict is due.”

Editor’s Note: Some content edited for grammar.

FINDING NCAA

Jenny Rohl/The News Sophomore point guard Cameron Payne is interviewed on-air after beating Morehead State 80-77 March 6 at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Sophomore point guard Cameron Payne is interviewed on-air after beating Morehead State 80-77 March 6 at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

Men’s Basketball Head Coach Steve Prohm and his team have been making a passionate plea to the NCAA Selection Committee for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as they prepare for Selection Sunday. Much of their lobbying has been done over social media, but the content is of the utmost importance to players, coaches and fans alike.

“It isn’t a game for me,” said sophomore guard Justin Seymour. “This is our life. We put endless time in this. I was straight business. I want to be heard about the situation and I want people to know that we are deserving of a bid.”

With #RacersDeserveABid trending on Twitter and Seymour’s series of tweets landing him a guest spot on ESPN radio with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith of ESPN’s His and Hers, the Racers refuse to be overlooked.

Fumi Nakamura/The News Head Coach Steve Prohm contests a call during the March 7 loss to Belmont at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

Fumi Nakamura/The News
Head Coach Steve Prohm contests a call during the March 7 loss to Belmont at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.

“I basically did it for the sake of the team,” Seymour said. “I just feel like we’re getting the short end of the stick and people are overlooking what we did. We’ve won 25 games in a row. How are you just going to take that from us because of a fadeaway 3? That’s just not fair to us as a team.”

As of Tuesday night, Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology listed Murray State as third on the Next Four Out, ranking the team as the 79th pick to play into the tournament. Fans, coaches and players think the Racers are more than deserving of a bid, despite falling off both the AP and USA TODAY Coaches Polls this week. An undefeated regular conference season, a 25-game win streak and Naismith Trophy semifinalists for Player of the Year and Coach of the Year are just a few of the accolades the Racers have racked up during their 27-5 overall season.

“That’s what the committee has to sit down and say at the end of the day when they’re evaluating us,” Prohm said. “Look what they’ve done. Can the 10, 11 and 12 seeds that we’ve got – these bubble teams or these last teams in – can they do the same thing?”

Jenny Rohl/The News Junior forward Jeffery Moss dribbles during the OVC Championship game against Belmont.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Junior forward Jeffery Moss dribbles during the OVC Championship game against Belmont.

Supporters and critics alike are voicing their opinions online and on-air. College basketball analyst for ESPN, Dick Vitale, tweeted Tuesday that the Racers have a legitimate case, while CBS Sports bracket expert Jerry Palm spoke in a less positive light about Murray State on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney Monday.

“They won’t get more than about 30 seconds of discussion (from the selection committee),” Palm said. “There’s just absolutely nothing to talk about there.”

Palm, however, devoted more than 30 seconds of discussion to the Racers, adding to the media storm that has risen since their March 7 loss to Belmont. RPI rankings and strength of schedule are two main points criticizers are stating to argue against the Racers’ at-large bid, while supporters say Murray State is reminiscent of the 2006 Virginia Commonwealth University and 2011 George Mason teams, both of which advanced to the Final Four after receiving at-large bids to the tourney.

RPI rankings are just one of the tools the 10-person NCAA Selection Committee uses to make their final verdict, however. According to the NCAA’s website, it is up to the committee members to determine if the at-large teams have played their way into the tournament.

Jenny Rohl/The News Senior guard T.J. Sapp plays with his daughter outside the locker room after the Racers’ OVC Championship loss March 7.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Senior guard T.J. Sapp plays with his daughter outside the locker room after the Racers’ OVC Championship loss March 7.

“If you do your research and you’re diligent in the process, I really can’t see us not getting in,” Prohm said. “In my heart, I just can’t see it. We’ve got to stop punching numbers. You’d have never heard of Cardale Jones if they were punching numbers in football.”

The team does not plan to watch the NCAA Selection Show together when it airs Sunday at 4 p.m., but they will meet after to celebrate their selection or watch the National Invitation Tournament Selection Show together. With so much up in the air, Prohm is sure of one thing: People would love to see the story.

“You love to see it,” Prohm said. “Whether we get in and win, or whether we get in and get beat by nine or 11, or we go to the Sweet 16, it doesn’t change whether you were deserving or undeserving. We are deserving. Whether we get in or not, I don’t know.”

Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor

Racer women honored at senior night

March 9, 2015 Athletics, Basketball

With looks of confidence on their faces, the women’s basketball team walked on the court last Saturday for its last home game against Austin Peay State.

Before beginning the team honored three seniors: forward and center Netanya Jackson, forward Chanyere Hosey and guard Keiona Kirby. Head Coach Rob Cross and Racer fans cheered for the seniors as they took the floor for their last game.

“We’re just thrilled to come out with a victory on senior night,” Cross said. “It was great to show our seniors how proud the team is and to win our last game in the arena.”

The Racers faced a tough back and forth scoring game against the Lady Govs, but Kirby scored the first eight points of the game.

“It’s been a great experience to win the senior game,” Kirby said. “It feels good to pull out a win and I feel confident.  It was an antsy game but it was a good experience and the crowd was really into it.”

According to GoRacers.com, freshman forward and guard, Ke’Shunan James led the Racers, adding 18 points to the game followed by Kirby and sophomore guard, LeAsia Wright who added 14 points.

The team was able to pull out a win in the last 30 seconds of the game the racers were up by three and with a few good free throws came out winning against the Lady Govs 72-67.

The Racers face the UT Martin Skyhawks at 4 p.m. Saturday in Martin, Tenn.

#40 Chanyere Hosey

Kalli Bubb/The News

Position: Forward

Hometown: Bollingbrook, Ill.

Height: 6 feet 1 inches

Total career points: 58

Total career rebounds: 164

Total career assists: 19

#13 Keiona Kirby

Jenny Rohl/The News

Jenny Rohl/The News

Position: Guard

Hometown: Jackson, Tenn.

Height: 5 feet 9 inches

Total career points: 471

Total career rebounds: 136

Total career assists: 52

#00 Netanya Jackson

Jenny Rohl/The News

Jenny Rohl/The News

Position: Forward/Center

Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.

Height: 6 feet 4 inches

Total career points: 116

Total career rebounds: 109

Total career assists: 11

Story by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor

Intramural basketball comes to end

March 5, 2015 Athletics, Intramurals
Nicole Ely/The News A Blue Ballers player runs for the layup.

Nicole Ely/The News A Blue Ballers player runs for the layup.

Monstars cruise in semifinal game

With 7:06 left in the game vs. the AOII Pandas, the Monstars scored two points to seal a mercy rule victory.

The Monstars, led by junior Christiane Soldo and junior Bekah Russell, took the early advantage leading by 13 at halftime. Their opponent couldn’t match up with the size of the Monstars team on offense or defense. The Monstars dominated throughout the second half as well, winning 43-12.

“Honestly, I think it was that they were bigger than us and they seemed like they may have more experience,” said sophomore AOII Panda Erica Strubhart. “Another thing is that I think we were just getting to that point in the season that we were just getting tired. We’ve been playing since January and now it’s March so I think we were just kind of getting worn down at this point.”

The sorority division was dominated by the AOII Pandas as they went undefeated during the regular season.

“We’re AOII, so it’s all about playing the sororities to us and we always like to be number one,” said sophomore Shelby Beloate, who scored half of the team’s points. “It was big for us to make it this far.”

Nicole Ely/The News A Team Lob City player throws a free throw during an intramural game.

Nicole Ely/The News A Team Lob City player throws a free throw during an intramural game.

Leading Monstar scorer, junior Bekah Russell, was active on both ends of the floor, coming up with three steals to go along with her 19 points.

“We don’t get a chance to play the sororities division, and I saw them play a game before and they looked really solid,” Russell said. “I thought they were a good team, but we came out with only five people and kept the pressure on them. Everyone gets in there and they rebound even if they are the shortest person out there.”

The most experienced player on either team was Christiane Soldo, a former Murray State women’s basketball player who put up 17 points and eight rebounds.

“I didn’t have enough time to do school work and play and be on the road and my grades were suffering,” Soldo said of her collegiate basketball career. “So I decided to quit and just get involved with school and extracurricular activities.”

After defeating the AOII Pandas, up next for the Monstars was the championship game against Hart College.

“I think we are very prepared for the final,” Russell said. “We haven’t played as many games as we would like– we’ve had to forfeit a couple of games– but every time we’ve come out we’ve played really hard and I think we are ready to go. We’re going to take it. We’re going all the way. We’re going to win and we are going to get that t-shirt, finally.”

According to IM Leagues, the Monstars were ready, taking home a 47-32 win to end the season and take home the title.

 

Story by Blake Bernier, Staff writer

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