MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- It has been a solid start for the MTSU men’s and women’s basketball teams this season.
The Blue Raiders are 6-2 through eight games, while the Lady Raiders are 5-3.
That’s a pretty good opening to the season considering the difficult schedules the two programs have played to this point. A combined 11-5 record is nothing to be ashamed of at this point.
Both teams will enjoy about a week off before returning to the court next week. The men host Fisk on Monday night, while the women play Kennesaw State at home on Thursday at 11 a.m. for Murfreesboro City Schools Education Day. You might want to bring a couple of ear plugs as the kids’ squealing voices can be quite ear piercing.
As for the men, I know a lot of fans left disappointed on Tuesday night when Belmont snapped the Blue Raiders’ 33-game regular season home winning streak with a 70-58 victory.
The bottom line was MTSU played poorly again at the outset and couldn’t totally recover.
But it’s time MTSU faithful got rid of the notion that MTSU’s is supposed to beat Belmont all the time. Of late, the Blue Raiders have been owned by the Bruins, but it’s hardly the end of the world – or season.
Belmont is a very good program that has caused matchup problems for MTSU, but the Bruins cause a lot of teams matchup problems. Just ask North Carolina, which allowed 15 3-pointers to Belmont and lost at home.
It’s a tough blemish to swallow, but get over it. MTSU is not going to win all of its games this season.
What this team has a chance to do is compete for a Conference USA title. However, the Blue Raiders will find plenty of company with the likes of Southern Mississippi, Charlotte, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa.
The key for MTSU when it plays a quality opponent is to have its three seniors bring it every night. Kerry Hammonds, Tweety Knight and Shawn Jones can ill afford an off night when the Blue Raiders play a good team.
As for the Lady Raiders, they’d certainly like to have the Lady Vols game back, but the bottom line is they missed too many free throws.
That being noted, MTSU is now riding a four-game winning streak after whipping Austin Peay 69-43 in Clarksville on Wednesday. There have been some very good Lady Raiders teams in the past that have struggled at the Dunn Center.
Most impressive was the three straight tournament wins MTSU had last weekend when it beat Southeastern Louisiana, Wright State and Mississippi State. The game against Mississippi State for the championship was a blowout from the outset.
MTSU knows senior Ebony Rowe is going to be there night in and night out. The supporting cast needs to keep improving and aid the cause. They’re starting to do just that.
Both MTSU squads have almost reached the one-third point of the season, and if you were handing out grades I’d say both merit a strong B.