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Payne, Messer speak to Cookeville Noonday Rotary Club

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Tech head basketball coaches Steve Payne and Sytia Messer implored Cookeville Noonday Rotary Club members to support both Golden Eagle squads in the upcoming 2011-12 season at the organization’s Wednesday meeting.

Payne and Messer were the keynote speakers at the luncheon, held at Leslie Town Centre.

Messer spoke first, introducing club members to Tech’s newcomers and speaking about her team’s quest to defend its 2010-11 Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship. Messer said her club embraces its position as preseason favorite in the league, as was announced at Tuesday’s conference media day event.

Payne talked about restoring tradition to the men’s basketball program and asked fans to help make the Eblen Center the toughest arena for opponents in the league. He addressed his squad’s need to develop inside scoring and discussed the strength of the OVC, which has notched NCAA Tournament victories in each of the past three seasons and has had two players — Kenneth Faried and Lester Hudson — taken in the NBA Draft over that same period.

Both coaches fielded questions from club members and dined with the club. Men’s basketball assistant coach Russ Willemsen and senior center Liam McMorrow were also in attendance.

The Golden Eagle men begin play on Nov. 11 at Miami while the women open their season with a home exhibition game against Bryan College on Nov. 7 before traveling to East Tennessee State on Nov. 11 to face the Buccaneers in the first round of the WNIT Preseason Tournament.

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.