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:
Arizona State fans won’t get a chance to see Torian Graham take the floor this season, but he did sky over fellow teammates (and transfer) Shannon Evans on Friday night at the team’s Maroon and Gold Madness. The 6-foot-4 Graham is a former Buffalo commit — Evans also came from Buffalo — and both players will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.
Graham hasn’t had a chance to get into a Division I game, but he’ll be able to play for the Sun Devils next season. For now, fans can look forward to Graham’s athleticism on the wing in pregame dunk routines.
A former top-100 prospect, Graham also pulled off this ridiculous move in the dunk contest.
Kansas head coach Bill Self is known for being unique for the annual Late Night at the Phog and this season, he went with some parody videos centered around the recent DirecTV ads. In the two skits, Self plays himself — which acknowledges his many accolades — while playing alongside “short shorts Bill Self” and “graduate assistant Bill Self”.
Hard to say if these videos top Self showing up in a suit like Andrew Wiggins last year, but there do have good promotional value for the program and Self.
Kansas players also had their chance to shine, with both men’s and women’s teams doing dances. Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor also attempted to lip sync to Michael Jackson. Freshman forward Carlton Bragg showed some solid ability on the piano, which got the crowd going. Bragg was also one of the strong points in a scrimmage.