Skip to content

Is Murray State an elite mid-major program, or just a good team?

Dec 26, 2012, 7:49 PM EST

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Murray State v Marquette Getty Images

Isaiah Canaan has put Murray State on the map.

He’s an all-american, and generally speaking, when those kinds of talents role through college campuses in Kentucky, they are in Louisville and Lexington, not Murray.

The Racers have a strong program. They’ve won three straight conference titles — two of which came before Canaan was a famous face — and their win over Vanderbilt in the 2010 NCAA tournament came on a buzzer-beater by Danero Thomas in a season where Canaan was coming off of the bench.

The program has won before. Three of the last four coaches that have rolled through have gone on to bigger and better programs. Mark Gottfried has coached at Alabama and is now coaching NC State. Mick Cronin took over the Cincinnati program. Billy Kennedy is currently trying to make Texas A&M relevant in the SEC.

But the true mark of a successful mid-major program has nothing to do with great coaches and even less to do with landing an all-american every once in a while. To be coupled with the likes of Xavier and Butler and Gonzaga — to be the kind of program that’s considered a “high-major” despite their non-BCS conference locale — that team needs to remain nationally relevant after they lose their star players, not while they are the big men on campus.

And Murray State is doing that.

Canaan only developed into an all-american when the Racers lost two of their top three scorers and three starters heading into his junior year. That was the same time that Donte Poole, who had been a bit player four three seasons, developed into a guy that averaged 14.0 points.

Poole graduated after last season. So did Ivan Aska and Jewuan Long, meaning that Steve Prohm headed into this season without three of last year’s top four scorers. But this season, Ed Daniel has developed into so much more than simply being the guy with the awesome afro. He’s averaging 16.2 points and 10.9 boards, up from 6.8 points and 5.3 boards. Stacy Wilson is averaging 14.8 points, 4.6 boards and 3.5 assists as a senior after playing just over 10 minutes per game and averaging 4.3 points as a junior.

The best mid-major programs don’t rebuild. They don’t even reload. They simply have another kid in line, ready to step up and perform when it’s his turn.

If you really want a gauge of the kind of program that Murray State has, wait and see how they look when Canaan, Daniels and Wilson graduate after this season.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Four-star 2015 big man cuts his list to three then visits SEC powerhouse

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    (Nike) (Nike)

    One of the best unsigned players in the 2015 class is down to three schools but then visited another school on Friday night.

  2. POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Larry Nance Jr. throws down an alley-oop in traffic

    Nov 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EST

    Larry Nance (AP Photo) AP

    Looks like Larry Nance Jr. is fully recovered from last season’s ACL injury.

  3. Division III school makes buzzer-beating three-pointer against same opponent in back-to-back years (VIDEOS)

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Practice Getty Images

    This is one of the wildest buzzer-beaters I’ve ever seen and the back story makes it that much more incredible.

  4. Pregame Shootaround: Tip-Off Tournaments and some ranked teams headline Sunday

    Nov 23, 2014, 9:10 AM EST

    AP AP

    Tournament action resumes on a busy Sunday of college hoops.

  5. Quinn Cook is thriving as an off-guard, and No. 4 Duke will reap the benefits

    Nov 23, 2014, 3:56 AM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Concerns about Cook moving off the ball seem foolish through five games.

  6. Late Night Snacks: Rhode Island, Wyoming picks up big home wins

    Nov 23, 2014, 2:00 AM EST

    Rhode Island's E.C. Matthews (0), Nebraska's Shavon Shields (31) AP

    No. 21 Nebraska was the lone ranked team to fall on Saturday, but give them credit for being willing to go on the road to play a dangerous opponent.

  7. Indiana’s Devin Davis in attendance for team’s win over Lamar (VIDEO)

    Nov 23, 2014, 12:05 AM EST

    Landon Atterberry Devin Davis AP

    Devin Davis has been rehabbing from injuries suffered on November 1 in his hometown of Indianapolis.

  8. Duke’s Justise Winslow jumps over Stanford’s Chasson Randle (VIDEO)

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:33 PM EST

    Justise Winslow Justise Winslow

    Most people already knew that Winslow’s a high-level athlete. Here’s some evidence for those who somehow didn’t.

  9. Rhode Island pays tribute to Nebraska assistant coach’s son (PHOTOS)

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:22 PM EST

    Terrence Payne Terrence Payne

    Before their game against No. 21 Nebraska, Rhode Island took the floor in shirts honoring Avery Harriman.

  10. Two key Florida players declared questionable for Battle 4 Atlantis

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:44 PM EST

    Angel Rodriguez ,Eli Carter,Manu Lecomte Angel Rodriguez ,Eli Carter,Manu Lecomte

    Florida faces Georgetown in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Wednesday.

  11. Rhode Island upsets No. 21 Nebraska, 66-62, in overtime

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:37 PM EST

    AP AP

    The score was tied 41-41 with six minutes to go. Rams and Cornhuskers traded the lead five times after that.

  12. Second-half efficiency the difference as Wyoming steamrolls Colorado

    Nov 22, 2014, 8:06 PM EST

    Wyoming v UNLV Getty Images

    Wyoming may have scored just 56 points, but all 22 of their made field goals were assisted and they shot nearly 53 percent from the field.

  13. P.J. Boutte’s buzzer-beating floater pushes IUPUI past Ball State (VIDEO)

    Nov 22, 2014, 6:17 PM EST

    IUPUI Athletics IUPUI Athletics

    Boutte’s shot came seconds after he corralled a wayward pass from teammate Marcellus Barksdale.

  14. No. 6 North Carolina wins as Kennedy Meeks posts another double-double

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:58 PM EST

    Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson

    Meeks accounted for two double-doubles all season in 2013-14. He’s now matched that total through three games.

  15. Providence cruises past struggling Florida State as Kris Dunn looks like a major factor

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:46 PM EST

    Carson Desrosiers, Montay Brandon AP

    Providence jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead and cruised to an easy win over Florida State.

  16. After slow start, Notre Dame uses nice guard balance, defense to run past UMass

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Jabarie Hinds, Demetrius Jackson AP

    Notre Dame guards Demetrius Jackson and Jerian Grant played well to help lead the Irish to victory.

  17. Report: 2015 CBE Classic field announced

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:40 PM EST

    AP AP

    The 2015 CBE Classic will have a local flavor.

  18. Ball State suspends reigning MAC Freshman of the Year indefinitely

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Ball State v Marquette Getty Images

    Ball State will be without a key piece for the immediate future.