Though we struggled at times, we got the job done, and Mushatt had a huge game. I know Murray State can win, they’ve beaten better teams this year (St. John’s), but they will have to play smart and follow my keys to success.
First and most important, Murray State must defend the three-point shot. They did not do that against Austin Peay and it nearly costed them a win. Belmont can shoot the three as well as anyone in the country, so I can’t stress this enough, the Racers must get their hands up and make Belmont shoot contested threes.
Second, Murray State must attack the glass and control the paint. If Belmont has a weakness, it’s their big men. They are undersized and don’t rebound particularly well, so Daniel, Garrett, and Mushat need to have a productive game. This means being aggressive (while of course, staying out of foul trouble) on defense and scoring easy points in the paint.
And the last key success goes to the fans. Yeah that’s right, I’m calling out the crowd. I’m not saying the crowd at the Bank is bad, but Murray State has taken pride for having the loudest crowd in the conference for decades (just ask anyone who has watched a game in Racer Arena), so let’s show the newcomers just how rowdy we can be. But it’s not just for bragging rights, the Racers actually play better when the crowd is on their feet and into the game.
I see Steve Prohm pump up the crowd about once a game in attempt to keep the momentum, and most of the time it works. The psychology of the sport is very complex, but I notice a pattern: more shots fall when the crowd is rowdy.
I know this game will be tough, but it is by no means impossible to win. I actually like the matchups. Dexter Fields will have his hands full with Ian Clark who is shooting video game kind of numbers. Ed Daniel will be up against a center his own size, but Ed plays as tall as his afro so I expect him to dominate. And Belmont’s best defender will be on Canaan, but nobody can create his own shot better than Canaan, so I’m not worried. My prediction: Murray State wins. Go Racers!