As Orange Nation holds its breath and “waits on Waiters,” Syracuse hoops takes another body shot in the loss of Rob Murphy. Weeks after dodging a bullet when Murph pulled his name from consideration for the Kent State job, SU fans are disappointed to hear him heading to Eastern Michigan.
The “Murphkins” tandem of Murphy and Mike Hopkins has burned the recruiting trail together since 2004, raising SU’s profile on the prep circuit to elite levels. Splitting the two-headed monster in half and dissecting the commits for each, you could easily argue Murphy got more value out of his recruits. Hopkins is the next head coach of the Orange and has nabbed big names in Fab Melo and Dion Waiters, but Murphy got “under the radar” guys.
You need both angles to build a national champion, and the loss of Murph will leave a huge void. His notable recruits over the past few years include lottery picks Wes Johnson and Donte Green, standout Kris Joseph, big men Baye Moussa Keita and A.O., and the extremely versatile C J Fair.
All these players were “Murph” guys. Players who are smart, make the right plays, and hold teams together. Green may still catch a bad rap from SU fans for leaving early, but he was a stabilizing force that averaged 17 per game on a team with inconsistent and injured players like Devo and Paul Harris.
Both Fair and Keita contributed in major ways to last year’s team. They each were the difference in multiple games off the bench. It’s this ability to find a diamond in the rough that made Murphy so valuable and a terrific fit at a school that can’t recruit with elite programs. Murph simply doesn’t miss.
He also brought an energy and youthfulness (think “Shut It Down” not “Unfinished Business” – everyone’s allowed one bad record) that no doubt attracted recruits to a school to play for a notably salty coach in his late 60s. Where does Syracuse go for its next assistant? Gerry McNamara is the obvious choice, but what type of recruiting chops does he have? Former SU star Adrian Autry would make a nice fit, but he just took a position at Dayton. Boeheim has put on a brave face, but one has to wonder what happens to the relationships of current SU recruits that Murphy has. This is undoubtedly a blow to the Orange.
You can’t stand in the way of one man’s ascent up the ladder, however, and The Fizz wishes Murph nothing but the best and only hopes a potential recruiting tandem label as cool as “Murphkins” comes our way.
Posted: Craig Hoffman