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MSU women's hoops assistants have local flair

By EDWARD MARLOWE emarlowe@paducahsun.com

The first year of Murray State women's basketball under newly-minted head coach Rechelle Turner already has a strong platform for headlines, as the longtime Murray High School girls' basketball coach looks for footing and success at her alma mater.

But the staff behind her -- Aubrey Reese, Amber Guffey and Monica Evans -- have nearly as many local ties and folklore as their fearless leader, creating a unique net of both experience and breadth for the Lady Racers moving into 2017-18.

Most recently, Reese spent two years as a top assistant to former MSU women's skipper Rob Cross and Turner retained him for a third, but the Racer faithful know him well. He was a student assistant for former Racer men's coach Steve Prohm during the 2014-15 season, and as a player at MSU was named the 2000 OVC Player of the Year and OVC Tournament MVP. He moved on to an illustrious pro stint that led him the 2001 Player of the Year selection for the USBL's Oklahoma Storm and a trailblazing career through France, Germany, Israel, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine on a pro-circuit before returning to MSU for educational and coaching opportunities.

"Honestly it feels great that (Turner) thought enough of me to put me on her staff, because honestly she didn't have to do that -- regardless of what I've done since I've been here or regardless of what I've done as a player or who I am community-wise," Reese said. "She didn't have to do that. But with that being said, I'm ecstatic.

"I think it was a great hire. I think we have a lot of similarities (Turner and I) as a coach. I think there's a lot of stuff she can teach me, and since I've been here two years with these girls, there's a lot of things I can help her with and accommodate her with as far as getting to know these players."

As well as a "great basketball mind," Reese brings an understanding of the current roster as well as the most Division I recruiting experience of anyone in the program.

But not far behind him is Guffey, the Clinton County native who was a pivotal part of Murray State women's basketball in arguably its two most successful seasons behind a tournament championship under Jody Adams in 2008 and the school's first regular-season title under Cross in 2009.

She's third all-time in MSU history with 1,877 points and is a three-time All-OVC selection. She ranks in the top 10 in 17 career statistical categories at MSU and is still the leader in minutes played (3,873), games played (123), assists (512), free throws made (587), 3-point field goals (210) and 3-point attempts (530).

Reese labeled Guffey a "key piece" of the coaching staff, mainly because she's had the success necessary not only at the OVC level but in a Racer uniform and can be a purveyor of knowledge to the returning players.

And Guffey agrees.

"As the youngest member of this staff, I think I can be the closest to the locker room," she said. "I'm not that far removed from my playing days, and I think I can bring that to the current players.

"There's a culture of losing, bottom line. They're not used to winning. We want sustained excellence. We want to build into the success like UT Martin and Belmont."

The third Musketeer is Evans, who has spent the last 22 years of her life at Murray High School as an assistant to Turner and an employee within the school system.

She's also Turner's best friend, and admitted this step out into a new path was a unique and risky decision -- but one worth the chance of relationships and opportunity.

"When the opportunity came, like I said, it was very, very hard to leave the comfort zones â ¦ to leave everything that you've ever known," Evans said. "But basically, God opened this door for a reason and put this opportunity (in front of me). I'm truly blessed to be beside my best friend.

"It starts with relationships."

It also starts with discipline, accountability, selflessness and other off-the-court intangibles -- things this staff hopes to achieve in the coming year together.

In the meantime, it won't take long for the staff to realize just how much local flavor the coach's meetings will have in the coming season.

"We haven't talked about it, but I've thought about it," Reese added. "I consider it like the All-Star staff assembly for Murray."

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