Tag:Tennessee State
Posted on: March 3, 2012 10:36 am
Edited on: March 3, 2012 10:36 am

Championship game preview: Ohio Valley

Heading into the Ohio Valley tournament, everyone wanted to see two games: Tennessee Tech against Murray State in the semifinals for a third time, and a rubber match between Murray State and Tennessee State in the championship.

We got the first one on Friday night, when Murray State dominated Tennessee Tech in the second half en route to a 20-point win. We’ll get the second one on Saturday afternoon, as the only team to beat the Racers this season gets another crack at them.

Tennessee State beat Murray State back on February 9, but lost the rematch by 18 on its home court. The Tigers advanced to the title game by beating Morehead State in the semifinals, 59-52.

The key for Tennessee State will be forcing turnovers and limiting Murray State’s trips to the free-throw line. The Racers love to attack the rim and get easy opportunities at the charity stripe. On the other side, the Tigers have to take care of the ball and grab offensive rebounds for second chances. In the first meeting, Tennessee State had 15 steals; in the second one, just three.

If Murray State doesn’t win, it will still get an at-large bid, so bubble teams will be rooting for the Racers to hold serve in Nashville.

-- Jeff Borzello

Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:54 pm

Coach who slayed Murray State speaks

John Cooper's Tennessee State team got one of the biggest wins in program history tonight. (AP)
By Matt Norlander

The last time Tennessee State beat Murray State at Murray State in regulation was the 1995-96 season. That was also the last season the Tigers finished a campaign with a winning record (15-13).

Thursday night, Tennessee State not only got that ever-elusive W at Murray State, in regulation, after a 16-year wait, but the Tigers also ensured themselves of an above-.500 record. I was able to speak with TSU third-year coach John Cooper after the game. He talked and walked from the CFSB Center to the bus.

Once he got on the bus, I could tell immediately. It was quite joyous in the background, you see (as I heard). I suspect that two-hour ride from Murray, Ky., to Nashville, Tenn., didn’t dip much in volume or enthusiasm.

This could very well be the win that defines 16-10 Tennessee State’s season. Only one team every year gets the unique delight and reward of playing spoiler to the sport’s final unbeaten. Unlikely as it was, Tennessee State smashed Murray State’s undefeated hopes Thursday night with the 72-68 outcome.

Cooper said his guys didn’t need calming down. They weren’t anxious in timeout huddles and there was no need to stress about the situation at halftime, when Murray State led 40-33. The Tigers trailed most of the second half, too. That was a “benefit,” according to Cooper, who didn’t do anything outside of the ordinary in terms of prep for this game.

Same type of scouting, same type of practice, all of it to the familiar beat Cooper and his coaches have used and helped earn the team a season-best six-game winning streak.

“I’m not one of those guys where we go and do a bunch of different things. This group simply does better by staying true to what we do,” he said. Murray State star Isaiah Canaan, who had his fourth game of more than 30 points (31) got his despite State doing its best to contain him.

“We tried to guard him well and he shot the tar out of the basketball,” Cooper said. “The goal was not to let him get his and stop everyone else.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Canaan got most of his and yet Murray State couldn’t get a home win in conference. Normally, a league’s best team getting a huge performance from the league’s best player doesn’t end in an L.

Cooper was pretty measured after what is fair to call the biggest win of his young career. He took over this team in 2009 and soon found himself with only four scholarship players thanks to the exodus of transfers that can come with a program like Tennessee State losing a head coach (Cy Alexander).

“Quite frankly, we haven’t had a lot of success in recent history with our basketball program,” Cooper said. “You don’t just jump right up and beat the big boys.”

It took him six tries, but he finally got Murray State, which is the class of the Ohio Valley — the Duke or Syracuse or UCLA of that league. He's proud. I let him talk for a few minutes after asking a general question about the program. If this sounds like he's letting off steam, he wasn't. I think Cooper was affirming aloud to himself how big the win was and how long it had been since the program was so surely moving in a good direction.

“This hasn’t happened in our program in a long time. It’s just one win, though,” Cooper said. “No one has ever, once, said anything about us. I’m not knocking the media, but no one was saying anything about us, even when they (Murray State) played SEMO (Southeast Missouri State), and that’s fine. We don’t go about that like we have a chip on our shoulder. We’ve got to prove it, and rightfully so. To win like this, it’s really hard to do this.”

Hard, sure, but also a lot of fun. The party on that bus proves it.

Posted on: May 13, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 4:39 pm

Recruiting Notebook: Thornwell on the rise

Posted by Jeff Borzello

The class of 2013 is going to be known for its depth at the wing position, and one player making his way up the rankings is Sindarius Thornwell.

Thornwell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Lancaster (S.C.), makes an immediate impact because of his length and athleticism. He handles the ball and distributes well for someone his size, and is also adept at finishing.

“I’m quick and I can handle the ball,” Thornwell said. “I’m always attacking and I play defense.”

Plenty of colleges have taken notice of the versatile 2013 prospect.

Thornwell currently holds offers from South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee State, Georgia Southern and Charlotte. He also has interest from Louisville, UCF and the entire ACC besides North Carolina and Duke.

Thornwell, who has visited Clemson and South Carolina, knows exactly what he needs in a school.

“I’m looking for playing style, good academics and playing time,” he said. “That’s it.”

2013 big man looking to improve

Most 6-foot-10 sophomores can get by on size and length alone. Andre Walker, on the other hand, is constantly looking to get better.

As it stands, he is a talented but raw big man who can run the floor and finish after he catches it.

“I need to make strong moves and play better defense,” Walker said. “I need to get better, get stronger. I also want to work on my perimeter game. I’m working hard.”

The Clarksburg (Md.) native is hearing from DePaul, Washington State, VCU, Northwestern, George Mason and Maryland.

Whitfield transfers to team with Tyler Lewis

North Carolina is loaded with prospects in the class of 2012. One player flying under the radar is Shane Whitfield, a 6-foot-5 forward.

In an attempt to make a name for himself, Whitfield is transferring next year to Forsyth Country Day School (N.C.). There, he will team up with North Carolina State commit Tyler Lewis in hopes of increasing his recruitment.

“It’s better competition,” Whitfield said. “I want to get better everyday.”

Right now, Whitfield has offers from Delaware, American, Campbell and Holy Cross, with interest from Richmond, Charlotte and East Carolina.

Other notes:

- A Texas team in need of impact players could pick up one this weekend. Recently available Sterling Gibbs and North Carolina State transfer Ryan Harrow are both visiting Austin this weekend.

- Unsigned 2011 center Daouda Soumaoro is currently on an official visit to Washington. Soumaoro took a trip to St. John’s recently, and said he enjoyed it.

- Top-50 2012 forward Ricardo Gathers is taking an unofficial visit to St. John’s this weekend. The Louisiana native also wants to take a trip to Florida.

Photo: 6manbasketball.com 

Posted on: January 2, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2011 3:38 pm

Memphis scuffle engulfs a lady and her pom-pom

Posted by Matt Jones

Going into the last really irrelevant Sunday of the college basketball season, I saw nothing of interest in the afternoon games and assumed that we could go through the evening with little fanfare.  But, as seems to always be the case, the best moment came from the least likely source, as the story of the day took place during  the waning moments of the Tennessee State-Memphis game.   With Memphis having already embarrassed itself by being up only five after a legitimate battle with a mediocre OVC school, the Tigers took a collective team poll and thought, "what could we do to make this already forgettable game become a national story, all the while spurring a whole series of writers to pontificate on the chaos in the program?  Oh yeah, I know!  Lets start a fight with the other team and then watch as the wife of one of our biggest boosters gets kicked out of the arena in the process!" 

The incident started with a scuffle between the two teams after Memphis's Antonio Barton was knocked down on a fastbreak by Tennessee State's Kenny Moore.  No punches were thrown, but the players began the usual jawing back and forth and even added the requisite notice that if one were to engage in future behavior to which he found objectionable, there would be a high price to pay indeed my dear sir.  The ensuing chaos resulted in the ejection of the Tigers' Tarik Black for leaving the bench area and led to the rather odd sight of coach Josh Pastner grabbing Will Barton and performing a mini-bodyslam that might have even taken down Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III.    Cooler heads then prevailed on the court, but the injection of juice into the arena could not be contained in the stands as the wife of a Memphis booster began yelling at Moore and, according to this tweet by a fairly famous witness (Penny Hardaway) , told him he should "choke on his mouthpiece" for the hard foul on Barton.  What ensued was sheer hilarity as the booster's wife became enraged, threw her pom-pom in utter disgust and was ejected from the arena by referee Mark Whitehead.  Her departure from the arena was caught on the video above and immediately placed her among the potential first ballot nominees for the Fan-Player Interaction Hall of Fame.

As for Memphis, I will leave it to the other columnists to tell you how its 11-2 team seems on the verge of combustion.  With Central Florida and UAB grabbing the headlines, Memphis is now in danger of not only losing its spot as a national story (that probably happened when John Calipari departed), but also getting lost in the shuffle in Conference USA.  What is much more important to me however, is what happens with the lovely lady who was sent packing with a minute to go.  Will she be allowed in future Memphis games? Does her rumored wealthy donor husband now have to up his yearly donation, or promise to no longer attend games with his wife, in order to maintain his prime seats.  These are the real stories that matter and will be the focus of the College Basketball Blog's investigation in the days to come.
Category: NCAAB
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