NAU tabs Murphy as next men’s basketball coach
“We are so pleased. This is a great day for NAU Athletics,” said Lisa Campos, the Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. “It was a really competitive process. There was a lot of interest in this position. We know that Jack is the right person to do that and if you look at his background, he’s learned a lot from great coaches.”
Murphy has been on the Memphis staff since 2009, joining the program when close friend Josh Pastner took over. Before holding that position, he was a member of the Denver Nuggets organization under George Karl, acting as an advanced scout while also serving as the video coordinator and leading players such as Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith in off-season workouts.
“My first thanks goes to obviously Dr. Campos and President Haeger for seeing a vision in me,” Murphy said. “Its very humbling. I’m overjoyed but it hasn’t hit me yet.”
Murphy’s coaching career started at UA, where he was a team manager before working his way up to director of basketball operations, spending eight seasons in Tucson form 1998-2006 under Lute Olson, before leaving for the Nuggets gig.
Serving under three quality coaches in his young career, Murphy has taken away an extensive knowledge of how to handle programs both on and off the court.
“I learned from Coach Olson how to respect the game and respect your players,” the 32-year-old said. “With Coach Karl, I learned how he managed players and his staff. He was an unbelievable motivator in several ways. From Coach Pastner, I’ve learned how important it is to bring in entire communities and empower the players.”
Murphy replaces Dave Brown, who took over on an interim basis after Mike Adras resigned in mid-December. The team went 5-22 last season, finishing last in the Big Sky Conference, a year after advancing to the second round of the BSC tournament.
“Its not going to be without challenges,” Murphy said. “There are times where we are going to have to dig deep and think positively in negative situations.”
One of those early challenges is getting adjusted to the players already entrenched with the program and who probably know a lot more about the goings-on inside the team than he does.
“I’m going to reach out to each one of those young men individually and introduce myself to them,” Murphy said. “I know a little bit about them just from watching film and tape. I really want to get them acquainted with me.”
Additionally, bringing in new players to NAU will also be an obstacle Murphy will have to overcome as the spring signing period is underway and many players have already made decisions about their futures.
“As far as recruiting as large, you’re really coming down to crunch time,” Murphy said. “We’re really going to have to hit the ground running. Its going to be difficult but just right now I’m trying to reach out to student-athletes that share my vision about NAU.”
Looking toward the future, no one person can predict where the program will be down the line in a couple of years, but Murphy wants to make sure that he does everything in his power to assure the people of Flagstaff and NAU fans alike that he wants to be here and is the right man for the job.
“I feel like I’m one of them and that this is not my team. This is our team, our university,” Murphy said. “I’m just looking to take the next step. I’m going to be out there with the community as a face they know and recognize. Sometimes they’ll probably even get sick of seeing my face.”
Murphy was formally introduced to the public at a press conference Monday afternoon in which he spoke about his goals for the program both short and long-term.