This season, College Chalktalk will be highlighting players from around the nation in both BCS and non-BCS conferences who are under the national radar and deserving of ink. As we continue with the series we spotlight a marquee player from the Ohio Valley Conference.
* * *
Doug Potter, Contributor
At 16-0 and more than midway through its regular season schedule, Murray State is one of only three unbeaten teams (Syracuse and Baylor) in men’s college basketball. The buzz out of Murray, Kentucky is becoming louder and figures to continue as the Racers only have conference games left on the schedule. The Racers won’t make you forget about the 2003-2004 Saint Joseph’s team (No 1. seed and 27-0 regular season) just yet, but they have some solid players and play an exciting style of basketball, averaging nearly 76ppg.
But who drives the Racers?
Answer: 6-foot junior guard, Isaiah Canaan. The Biloxi, Mississippi, native has stepped his game up significantly this year and it should come as no surprise that his team has followed suit. At 18.7 points per game, Canaan is second in the OVC in scoring behind only Kevin Murphy of Tennessee Tech (19.7ppg). Added to a 4.1/3.5/1.5 (assists/rebounds/steals) stat-line each contest, he is one of the most complete players in the country.
Canaan (left, courtesy Tab Brockman) is extremely efficient on the offensive end, shooting the rock to the tune of 50.8% from the field and a scintillating 51% from three-point range. He excels at the free throw line as well (83%) and gets there at a decent clip (4.9 FTA per game). His time at Murray state has been one of growth and improvement. A solid freshman campaign consisted of 10.4ppg in just 20 minutes of playing time, then 11.4ppg last year, and now - in his junior season -Canaan has blossomed into an OVC Player of the Year contender and who is on the floor more than 32 minutes per contest.
During the Racers most recent win (Saturday vs. Austin Peay), Canaan went off. He scored the team's first 16 points and made six 3-pointers within the first 10 minutes of the game, finishing with 35 (22 in the first half). On Thursday, he will take his talents back to Murray, Kentucky as the Racers return home to host (6-12, 1-4) Jacksonville State. Do I hear 17-0?
With 12 regular season games left, the Murray State Racers arguably have the best chance (of the three remaining teams) to go – cough – undefeated. Isaiah Canaan and company have a lot of basketball left in 2012, but if they continue maintain their high level of play, the Murray State Racers could enter the record books right beside Phil Martelli’s 2003-2004 Saint Joe’s Hawks.
* * *