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Return to the 2006-07 Top 144 Preview

July 16th, 2006

By Joel Welser

Broadcast Basketball

 

Murray State Racers

Overall Rank: #119

Conference Rank: #1 Ohio Valley

 

2005-06: 24-7, 17-3, 1st

2005-06 postseason: NCAA

 

Its easy to always back a winner, and Murray State is a program that has consistently won in the OVC.  However, things are a little different this year.  Coach Mick Cronin is gone and Coach Billy Kennedy has taken over the reigns.  Six contributors have either run out of eligibility or left the team and just about everything will be different in Murray, Kentucky, except the whole winning thing.

 

Whos Out: As if losing Issian Redding, Pearson Griffith and Chuck Johnson wasnt enough, the frontline took a huge hit when Justin Orr opted to transfer.  The departure of those four players leaves nobody over 6-5 returning who started a game last year.  The backcourt will have to adjust without part-time starters Darnell Hopkins and Keith Jenifer.

 

Whos In: When Birmingham Southern opted to move down to Division III, the Racers benefited.  Dwayne Paul and Ed Horton are eligible to transfer and play immediately and will do so for Murray State for the 2006-2007 campaign.  Paul, a 6-5 forward, averaged 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Panthers last season and will battle for a starting gig right away.  Horton, a 6-3 guard, is a decent outside shooter and will be a good option off the bench for Coach Kennedy.  Big men Tony Easley, Curtis Parker, Daniel Ard and George Fotso will all look for minutes in the frontcourt.  Easley has the advantage of redshirting last season and has gained some strength and experience practicing with the team.  Parker already has some strength and experience after playing at Shelton State Community College.  At 6-6, Ard is undersized for a post player, but he does have the tools necessary to make an impact over his career.  Fotso pulled down 13.1 boards per game as a senior last year at Piney Woods School in Mississippi.  Fotso is a hard worker, but is a raw player who will need more time to develop.  Bruce Carter and Dannero Thomas will add depth to the wings and it is hoped that Kevin Thomas can immediately fill in at the point guard spot.  Kevin Thomas, a transfer from Compton Community College, averaged 18.0 points and 7.5 assists per game last season.  He is a true point guard and, if he can start from day one, will prove to be a huge pickup for the Racers.

 

Who to Watch: There may be a lot of losses, but the top two scorers return in forward Shawn Witherspoon and guard Trey Pearson.  Witherspoon led the squad with 10.6 points and 7.7 rebounds.  Hes only 6-5, but Witherspoon may be asked to spend some time at the five spot.  Pearson might have to do a little position adjusting of his own.  He is better suited as a two guard, but Pearson may play some point if Kevin Thomas isnt up for the job. 

 

Final Projection: Murray State probably wont be running away with the league title this year.  Tennessee Tech, Austin Peay and Samford all sport quality squads that compete with MSU.  Keep an eye on guard Tyler Holloway and big man Rob Kennedy.  With a year of experience, that sophomore duo is ready to make an impact.  And it would be extremely helpful if Kennedy developed into a player who could give the Racers 20 to 25 minutes a game. 

 

Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA

 

Projected Starting Five:

Kevin Thomas, Junior, Guard, DNP last season

Trey Pearson, Senior, Guard, 10.3 points per game

Tyler Holloway, Sophomore, Guard, 5.9 points per game

Dwayne Paul, Senior, Forward, 11.3 ppg (Birmingham Southern)

Shawn Witherspoon, Senior, Forward, 10.6 points per game

120 Bradley Complete List 118 Providence

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