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Fan Jam Huge Success For Hoops Teams

October 21, 2004 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Basketball was in the air as the Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders and Blue Raiders enjoyed "Fan Jam" with members of the community and student body at Murphy Center Thursday night.

Fans enjoyed intra-squad scrimmages by both teams, 3-point shooting contests and a dunk contests, as well as having their photos and soliciting autographs from players and coaches on both squads.

PRESIDENT SIDNEY MCPHEE: "You could feel the energy and there is great anticipation for the Lady Raiders and the Blue Raiders. It's exciting to have this support and excitement for our programs. We are fortunate to have some very good coaches across the board. Kermit Davis has done a great job in his three years here, and Stephany Smith has been so consistent with her success. We are looking forward to the upcoming seasons."

McPhee's wife, Liz, was an honorary coach for the Lady Raiders last season, but don't expect to see Dr. McPhee on the Blue Raider bench anytime soon.

"I'm a smart guy and I know my weaknesses," McPhee said. "My job is to sit there and cheer for the teams, and I enjoy doing that."

NANCY GRAY: Gray is a longtime Lady Raider supporter who says the season can't get here soon enough. "I'm all fired up for the season. It starts with (Smith). She has been so excited about the start of practice and that carries over to the assistants and then the players. I can't wait."

CLAY SHIRLEY: Shirley is a three-year season-ticket holder who is anticipating the upcoming season with high expectations. "Since coach Davis has been here there has been a steady progression in our team. This is a like a hump year and we have a lot of returning players. Everybody feels good about our chances of winning the Sun Belt and going to the NCAA Tournament."

BILLY FRANCIS: Francis is a 10-year season-ticket holder. "We know the caliber of coaching we have. We've seen what Kermit can do with what little talent he had in the beginning. The caliber of ball he coaches is very exciting and people are ready for the season."

DAVID ROBINSON: Robinson is a Murfreesboro native who attended Middle Tennessee and graduated in May 2004. "I'm a diehard Blue Raider fan so I'm excited about every sport. Everyone got so excited last season and I'm hoping to keep it going this year."

LADY RAIDER COACH STEPHANY SMITH: "You can tell there has been a buzz about both our basketball teams around the community the last few weeks. With the turnout here tonight it's easy to see the fans are excited about the season and it was a fun night for our players, the students and the community."

SMITH ON LADY RAIDER SCRIMMAGE: "I thought the scrimmage was sloppy. It's easy to see we have six brand new players we are working into the plans. The triangle offense is a complex offense to begin with so that's a learning experience for our new players, and we have added a secondary this year, which is new to all of our players. We still have work to accomplish."

BLUE RAIDER COACH KERMIT DAVIS: "The best thing is to see the players interact with the students and the community. It's always good to see the community people come out to support our players. The support shows there is interest in the two programs and the players feel their hard work is worth it. These people are our base support and it was great to see so many of them here tonight."

DAVIS ON BLUE RAIDER SCRIMMAGE: "The scrimmage was fun but we are just kind of playing tonight, getting the rust off. It's always good for the players to get on the court in front of fans in a game-type situation, so that was good."

MORRISON THROWS DOWN: Two years ago Middle Tennessee fans were delighted by the acrobatic dunks of former guard John Humphrey, a.k.a. "The Helicopter" on the And 1 Tour. Humphrey reached the finals of the NCAA Dunk Contest in New Orleans in 2003 for his high-flying antics.

Junior newcomer Marcus Morrison treated fans to similar actions as he won the dunk contest Thursday night, beating out sophomore point guard Bryan Smithson in the finals. Morrison received perfect scores on his two dunks during the preliminary round, easily placing himself in the championship round.

The transfer from Garden City Community College brought the crowd to its feet with two monstrous dunks in the first round. Smithson kept the heat on with a two-dunk score of 46 (of a possible 60) in the preliminary round to earn a spot opposite Morrison in the championship round.

Senior Michael Cuffee and sophomore Alex Weekes didn't advance out of the first round. Both received no score for their first attempt, but Cuffee rebounded with a 29 (of 30) in the second round, and Weekes tallied a 25 but it wasn't enough to advance.

Morrison scored a 28 (of 30) on his championship dunk, while Smithson missed both attempts and failed to "dethrone" the talented newcomer.

"I didn't' get my dunks down like I wanted to but it was enough to win," Morrison said. "I've never lost a dunk contest and I didn't want to start now."

WEBB VERSUS CUYLER: Former Oakland standout Jenne Webb represented the Lady Raiders in the finals of the 3-point contest against Blue Raider newcomer Fats Cuyler.

Webb was impressive in the first round, knocking down 10-of-15 3-point attempts to outduel Latoya Barclay, Patrice Holmes and Ditte Jakobsen to earn a spot in the finals.

It was Cuyler who made his way into the finals to represent the Blue Raiders, connecting on nine-of-15 treys to beat out Jonathan Loe, Mike Dean and defending champion Wes Durrant.

The championship round pitted the top Blue Raider scorer against the top Lady Raider, where Cuyler's nine 3-pointers were barely enough to topple Webb, who finished with seven.

"I wanted to win and I shot to win," Cuyler said. "I've always considered myself a shooter, but I've taken great pride in running the point too. With the personnel we have it's going to make be better as a point guard. That, plus the coaches staying on me."

Webb was an outstanding shooter for coach Jennifer Grandstaff at Oakland High School and put on a shooting exhibition in the 3-point contest.

"I wanted to win, especially against (Cuyler), but I came up short," Webb said. "If I would have had a few more seconds I may have pulled it off."

STUDENT WINNERS: Representatives from Sigma Phi Epsilon, Beta Theta Pi and the Middle Tennessee football managers and film crew were the winners in the student games held before the 3-point and dunk contests.

Zach Firquin was the lucky student who had a chance to win free tuition and free books for the spring semester. His shot from halfcourt hit the back and front of the rim before coming out. Firquin; however, did receive free books.

SCRIMMAGE WINNERS: The White squad took a 15-9 win from the Blue squad in the Lady Raiders scrimmage. Krystle Horton and Tia Stovall led the winning team with four points each. Newcomer Amber Benjamin led the Blue team with three points.

Michael Cuffee led the Blue squad to a 20-17 win against the White team in the Blue Raider scrimmage. Cuffee led all scorers with seven points. Darrio Scott tallied five points for the Blue. Loe led the White team with six points.

ON THE HORIZON: The Lady Raiders will play their first exhibition game against Henderson State on Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders will play their only exhibition game of the preseason when they face North Alabama on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. at Murphy Center.

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