Former University of Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl speaks to a sold-out crowd at the Oct. 23, 2013, MTSU Tip-Off Celebration in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Athletics)
Murfreesboro, Tenn. -- MTSU men’s basketball team and its growing fan base got a chance to look back at the historic 2012-13 season on Wednesday night and prepare for the program’s first season in Conference USA.
The 2013 Tip-Off Celebration was held inside the new student union building on the MTSU campus. Former University of Tennessee head coach and current ESPN analyst Bruce Pearl was the keynote speaker at the event.
“The evening is about our players and our fans,” MTSU head coach Kermit Davis said. “It’s great to have Bruce (Pearl) here because he sends a great message. He is a good guy, and he has done a lot for the state of Tennessee.”
Pearl was more than happy to take part in the festivities in front of a sold-out crowd.
“Kermit and I are friends,” Pearl said. “We talked during the course of last season. I’m an analyst for ESPN, so I followed his program closely. I was trying to support MTSU as being in the field of 68. I told him if there is anything I can do for the program. So, he called me and said come to the Tip-Off program and be the keynote speaker. I was happy to do it.”
The players on this year’s team, including senior guard Tweety Knight, were also excited about the chance to hear Pearl speak.
“It’s a big event,” Knight said. “For him to come out and do a little talk and mingle with us and our fans, it’s a big accomplishment.”
Last season was a historic one for the Blue Raiders as they won the regular season Sun Belt Conference in their final season in the league with an impressive 28-6, 19-1 record. The program also made its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1989. However, MTSU lost to Saint Mary’s 67-54 in a First Four match up.
Wednesday night was a chance for those in attendance to relive some of the moments from the run into the Big Dance as highlights were shown on several big screens inside the ballroom. It was also a chance for MTSU to look ahead to this season its first in C-USA, which starts on Nov. 4 with an exhibition game against Truman State.
“It’s a celebration of basketball starting and also give the fans a chance to celebrate last year,” Davis said. “We are just trying to recreate our identity to start a new year.”