Game #9-234: Valparaiso Crusaders at Murray State RacersDecember 29, 2012 3:00 pm
A member of the Hickory Picket Fences team also attended this game. At first I thought he was here to see their fantasy player Isaiah Canaan rack up points for them. When he stopped by my seat at halftime, he informed me I was mistaken. But still, there will be dueling game recaps, so, as far as TMM9 is concerned, there's a definite rivalry in the building, especially since my team is in 2nd place behind his team. Game On! Since he got his recap in first, I'm sure readers will keep me honest when it comes to plagiarism. I'll definitely leave all the pictures to him.
I saw a few UK fans in the stands. I'm familiar with this phenomenon. In Valpo, you'll see Purdue and Notre Dame fans occasionally show up at the Athletics Recreation Center (ARC), presumably because their team is idle that night.
The ESPN3 replay of this game told me later that the last time Murray State lost a non-conference home game was in 2009. Their new coach was 31-2 last year and is 9-2 so far this year. They are still smarting from a tough loss to Dayton on the road. This is the last non-conference game for both teams before beginning their conference schedules. Valpo meanwhile is looking for a quality win after blowing an earlier opportunity or two. A win here on the road against a team ranked in the top 10 of the Mid-Major top 25 would obviously be a confidence booster.
The campus is a bit out in the middle of nowhere, but it is not exactly a sleepy town. Plenty of businesses surround two edges of the campus, including restaurants, department stores, groceries, etc. My GPS had no trouble leading me right to the arena.
Needless to say, I couldn't pass up the chance to see Isaiah Canaan play in person. He's gotten a lot of attention, some of it I'm sure from a plethora of NBA scouts. One of our TMM9 teams did in fact draft him as their fantasy player. I was interested to see what Murray State as a team would be like with a rock star on the team. It turns out Ed Daniel, 6-7 post player, is also a celebrity, or rather his hair is (it has its own facebook page, reportedly -- I was unable to confirm that, but I did find it's twitter handle @). But whenever you have someone who draws this kind of attention, it is interesting to see if he is a team player or not, and how his teammates react to his stardom. This is especially true at a school below the red line where rock stars don't come along very often.
I can't claim I learned anything specific about such attitudes, not being a mind-reader or a body-language interpreter, but I have now watched 40 minutes of basketball involving Isaiah Canaan, and there are some things to notice. They probably aren't earth-shattering or mysterious or fascinating, but they are noteworthy: (1) he gets his teammates involved, (2) his teammates are ready to benefit from him being double-teamed, (3) he did overshadow his teammates a bit in the eyes of the fans, but I saw no evidence that his teammates resented that.
Isaiah was the last person introduced and drew the loudest applause. He has a name that lends itself well to PA histrionics, and every time he drained a 3 (he went off for 24 points), the announcer was all-in with his acknowledgement. At crunch time, there was only one name on the lips of pleading Murray State fans sitting near me. He is the go-to guy in Racer Nation. At the same time, he racked up assists as well as points. I certainly saw no obvious divisiveness on the court. More than once when Valpo defenders (Lavonte Dority and Erik Buggs mostly) were hawking him, one of his teammates was ready and in position to capitalize on a double team. Dexter Fields and Stacy Fields hit wide open 3s. Ed Daniel slammed home several dunks off feeds from Canaan. Murray looked more like a well-oiled machine than a one man team to me.
They lost for the same reasons any team loses: unforced errors and foul trouble, for examples. They did not lose because their rock star took too many shots or engaged in too much one-on-one. Isaiah did fret about missing shots down the stretch when the home team was making a desperate comeback, calling himself the team leader, effectively pinning the loss on himself. There is a tiny-bit of the prima donna mindset embedded in such talk, except that there is a difference between expecting everyone to dub you the leader and expecting yourself to show leadership. The former we tend to call "prima donna". The latter we call "true leadership". I think it is safe to say that at this stage of Isaiah Canaan's career, he has not only earned this leadership role, but his performance over that time may well have thrust it upon him whether he liked it or not. A prima donna responds to a loss like this by pointing fingers at role-players. A true leader responds by facing the music unflinchingly and with maturity.
VALPARAISO 66, at MURRAY STATE 64
VALPARAISO 10-4 (0-0) -- R. Broekhoff 6-12 3-4 18; L. Dority 3-14 1-2 8; B. Boggs 1-4 4-4 7; K. Van Wijk 4-8 0-0 8; M. Kenney 2-2 0-0 4; E. Buggs 2-3 0-2 4; B. Capobianco 3-4 1-1 7; J. Coleman 3-6 3-5 10; W. Bogan 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 12-18 66.
MURRAY STATE 9-3 (0-0) -- I. Canaan 8-21 5-7 24; D. Fields 4-6 0-0 12; S. Wilson 2-10 0-1 6; E. Daniel 6-9 2-3 14; B. Garrett 1-3 0-0 2; J. Moss 0-1 2-2 2; T. Gilmore 1-1 1-1 3; C. Ford 0-1 1-2 1; Z. Henderson 0-0 0-0 0; E. McCree 0-1 0-0 0; T. Rambo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-53 11-16 64.
Three-point goals: VALP 6-16 (W. Bogan 0-1; J. Coleman 1-1; B. Boggs 1-4; R. Broekhoff 3-6; L. Dority 1-4), MURR 9-23 (I. Canaan 3-9; D. Fields 4-6; S. Wilson 2-7; E. McCree 0-1); Rebounds: VALP 38 (K. Van Wijk 9), MURR 25 (S. Wilson 7); Assists: VALP 10 (M. Kenney 4), MURR 10 (I. Canaan 6); Total Fouls -- VALP 19, MURR 18; Fouled Out: VALP-K. Van Wijk; MURR-None.
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