MURFREESBORO - Fresh off the winningest season in program history, the Middle Tennessee men's basketball team has hit the hardwood for summer practices. According to an NCAA rule instituted last year, the Blue Raiders are allotted eight hours per week for "weight-training, conditioning and skill-related instruction for up to eight weeks."
NEW IN BLUE
Six new faces joined the Blue Raider squad earlier this month to participate in summer practices, including three junior college transfers and three high school graduates. Tharone Chilton (Eastern Oklahoma/Tulsa, Okla.), Ronald Ross (Indian Hills/Indianapolis, Ind.) and Marcus Tarrance (Eastern Oklahoma/Memphis, Tenn.) comprise the JuCo transfers, while Eric Wortham (Eagle's Landing/McDonough, Ga.), Josh Phillips (Pope John Paul II/Hendersonville, Tenn.) and Reggie Upshaw (Baylor School/Chattanooga, Tenn.) make up the freshman class. N.C. State transfer Jaqawn Raymond will also make his MT debut during the 2013-14 campaign after sitting out last season.
IT'S A RING THING
The 2012-13 Blue Raiders received their Sun Belt championship rings last Thursday in a special ceremony at the home of head coach Kermit Davis. MT set a school and league record with 19 conference wins en route to a school-record 28 victories and NCAA tournament berth. It marked the second straight year and third time in the last four years MT has earned a conference championship ring.
CATCHING UP WITH TORIN WALKER
How have the first couple weeks gone and what have you been working on?
"The team as a whole this past week has been working on bonding as a group, learning each other's skills, learning each other's strengths and weaknesses and trying to get familiar with each other."
How has the adjustment been with the newcomers?
"We're gelling very well as a team. It's going to take time of course because we're young, but we are gelling very well, and we look like a very talented team."
As a senior this year, do you feel like you have to take more of a leadership role?
"I feel like I have to be more vocal and assertive in the weight room, on the court and off the court. I need to be more of a vocal leader and let them know what college basketball is like."
How is this team different from last year's with the departure of six seniors?
"We were a very talented group last year with those six seniors and they helped us win a lot of games, but the newcomers we have in now are very talented also, and they're bigger than the seniors we had last year. We're a lot bigger at every position than we were last year. If we just keep working on our offense and gel more, we'll be just as good as we were last year."
AND JUST FOR FUN...
If you could visit any country in the world, which would you go to?
"Might be Jamaica. They have the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen on the National Geographic Channel. I just want to see what it's like."
If you won the lottery, what's the first thing you'd buy?
"I'd give half of it to my mom."
If a movie was made about you, who would you want to play you?