Murray State knows a thing about transition. Not only do the players change year in and year out, like every college basketball program in the nation, no coach since Cal Luther left in 1974 has spent more than five years at the helm of the program.
The reason isn’t because they weren’t great – often quite the opposite. The school has seen a carousel because of success story after success story: from Mark Gottfried, to Mick Cronin, and Billy Kennedy, the Racers have sent coaches to the next level, much as they’ve prepared players for it as well from Popeye Jones to Isaiah Canaan.
Once those players and coaches leave many programs, that’s the last many fans hear from them. Murray State, though, wants to make sure that doesn’t happen there. That’s why they’ve invited back more than 50 former players, coaches, and even managers for the second annual Hoopalooza event.
“We’re really excited,” Murray State head coach Steve Prohm said. “With the tradition, and the pride that the people in this community and the former players have in this program, it was something that our staff really wanted to get the former players back involved.”
“It’s an ideal setup, with it being the 50th anniversary of the first NCAA tournament team,” Prohm added.
Luther, one of five speakers for this year’s event, first led Murray State to the NCAA Tournament in 1964. His team lost their first two conference games, before winning ten of their last 11 to rally to their first tournament birth.
They also played against Oglethrope University, a Division III university that gave Prohm his coaching start.
“They started off, and went through some adversity,” Prohm said of Luther’s tournament team. “But they were able to get through that.”
Luther isn’t the only member of that team expected to appear at this year’s Hoopalooza: Players Bob Goebel, Bennie Goheen, John Namicu, Gene Pendleton, Scott Schlosser, and Stan Walker will be at the event. So will two of the team’s managers: Don Riffel, and Larry Stanley.
For fans that weren’t around 50 years also, there’s also players and coaches from the modern era. Isaiah Cannan and Popeye Jones will both speak at the event. Former Racers coaches Tevester Anderson, Scott Edgar, and Billy Kennedy are also expected to attend, among others.
With all the former talent together again, you’d expect basketball would be at the top of the conversation pile, but Prohm says that’s often not the case.
“The fun thing is, you never really talk about the games. You talk about different things that happen, whether it’s on campus: chasing Isaac Miles to class, or whether it’s a funny thing that Danero Thomas may have done, or a story about a manager. But the neat thing is seeing those guys do their own thing Thursday night, Friday night — hanging out; The group in our area, or the Billy Kennedy era, and the Mark Gottfried era kind of do their own thing. It’s really neat to see those guys get back together.”
The event is broken up into two major events: on Thursday, August 7th will be the dinner and program, starting at 7 p.m. There will also be a silent auction before the event starting at 5:30. Individual tickets are $65, or you can reserve a table of eight for $490. On Friday, August 8th, there will be a golf outing. Groups of four will be paired with a former Racer coach or player at Murray Country Club. An individual entry in $55, with a foursome going for $195. The reservation deadline is approaching for both events: Friday, July 25th.
“It should be a great event,” Prohm said. “We’re really looking forward to a bigger and better event this year.”