Murray, KY, is college basketball.
A town of around 18,000 in the southwestern part of the state — Murray is just north of the Tennessee border and closer to Mississippi, Missouri and Arkansas than it is Louisville or Lexington — Murray is obsessed with their Murray State Racers.
Think about it like this: the town has 18,000 people, the school had about 10,000 undergraduate and grad students, and their basketball arena routinely fills to its 8,602 seat capacity on home games. On any given night, about 30% of the folks with a Murray, KY, address will be in the stands for a game. Think about that.
Mark Gottfried, Mick Cronin and Billy Kennedy all saw their careers launch in Murray, and Steve Prohm will join that list shortly, but the proud tradition of the Racers consists of 15 NCAA tournament appearances. They are thrilled just to be in the dance, and a season becomes historic when they win a game in the big dance.
This is mid-major basketball through-and-through. This isn’t Duke or North Carolina or Big Blue Nation. If it wasn’t for Isaiah Canaan and last year’s run at a perfect season, even fewer people would even know that Murray State was a program that existed. This is a small, but proud, program with a town behind them that bleeds navy blue and gold.
And thanks to the sleuthing of Matt Norlander, here’s a video that perfectly encapsulates just what the basketball team means to Murray, KY:
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.