Murray State star Isaiah Canaan
Although the Murray State Racers have gotten everyone's attention with their 18-0 start to the college basketball season, believe it or not, their success has been deeply rooted throughout the years. The Racers have finished the season with a winning record for an outstanding 25 straight seasons.
If teams such as Duke, Kansas or Kentucky accomplished such a feat, you can bet that it would be an overused statistic used several times each season. Since Murray State plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, their impressive accomplishment has been lost to the majority of college basketball fans.
Behind their record-setting start to the 2011-12 season is junior point guard Isaiah Canaan. The 6-foot Biloxi, Miss. product has the moxie and seasoning to lead the Racers to unprecedented heights by season's end. He is averaging 18.5 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game for the No. 15 ranked squad in the country.
In the midst of the Kentucky school's fast start this season, Canaan is building quite the national résumé. His best games at this point of the year would make even college hoops' biggest stars blush.
He scored 36 points and grabbed eight rebounds against Southern Miss, dropped 35 points and dished out five assists against Austin Peay, and willed himself to 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in an upset win over the Memphis Tigers.
He was a standout freshman on the Ohio Valley Conference Championship team that took down Vanderbilt before bowing out of the 2010 tournament to national runner-up Butler. Now, this 2012 team is his to lead, a team setting records at a torrent pace.
They have won 17 straight home games, dating back to January 20th of last year. Their 18-game win streak broke the 2009-10 team's record of 17 in that season. Their 18-0 start to the season continues to set a school record, and will undoubtedly set the bar extremely high for any future team's attempt to tie or break it.
The nation is already buzzing about the Racers' chances of running the table and finishing the OVC season 16-0. If Isaiah Canaan can continue to be a steady, veteran leader of this team, it's very possible that they can accomplish such a rare feat.
With team success, even more individual success and acclaim will come to the 2011 All-OVC First Team selection. It's almost a certainty that he will be chosen as Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year at season's end, but depending on just how successful his Murray State squad is, could he be considered for All-American honors? It's beginning to look that way.