November 3, 2011

Men's basketball welcomes fans to open practice Saturday

Payne pleased with team's progress on defensive side of ball

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Tech fans on campus for Saturday’s Homecoming football game are invited to duck inside the Eblen Center and catch a glimpse of the Golden Eagles on the hardwood in an open practice session Saturday morning. 

The men’s basketball team will practice from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The football game against Murray State kicks off at 1:30 p.m. across the parking lot in Tucker Stadium.

“We want to invite everyone to come out and see us practice,” said head coach Steve Payne. “We’re excited about the upcoming season and building a brand of basketball that’s exciting and uptempo.”

The Golden Eagles open their season next week, facing Miami (Fla.) on Friday, Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. at BankUnited Center in Coral Gables. Tech’s first home game is Tuesday, Nov. 15 against Reinhardt College at 7:30 p.m.

Season tickets for the 2011-12 Golden Eagle home schedule are currently on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or by calling (931) 372-3940.

Tech has been practicing since Oct. 15, and Payne says he has been pleased with his team’s defensive effort, but hopes to see more progress made on the offensive side of the ball.

“Defensively, we’ve been pretty good,” said the first-year head coach. “Our effort and energy have been good, and we’re improving our physicality which was a big emphasis for us coming into the preseason. We need to continue to learn what’s a good shot and what’s a bad shot and we need to take better care of the basketball.”

The Golden Eagles have suffered one injury loss during the preseason as junior forward Matt Marseille is out for the season with a torn ACL. Junior transfer John Sexton has also battled a recurring foot injury.

Tech was selected a close second in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll and has been picked to win the league by a handful of media sources, including the Sporting News and CBSSports.com.

Two Golden Eagles — senior guards Kevin Murphy and Zac Swansey — have netted OVC preseason player of the year nods from various sources. League coaches and sports information directors named Murphy Preseason Player of the Year while Swansey was highlighted by USA Today.

“I think our guys are confident and excited about their potential,” Payne said. “But I think they also understand the schedule we’re getting ready to play and how tough it is. We’re playing a lot of teams picked to finish at or near the top of their leagues, and we’ve got three guarantee games at Miami, West Virginia and Duquesne. They understand that, but they also understand they’re capable of competing with anybody.”