YPSILANTI, Mich. —- There he stood, a young man behind a couple of microphone and the podium, peering out into the audience, he witnessed a group of administrators, former players, friends and family that hung on every word, he had them on the edge of their seats and also these people have shed many tears watching a basketball program slip into a quiet death but - this is the season of resurrection.
Eastern Michigan University athletic director Dr. Derrick Gragg took a deep breath and smiled like a brand new father and introduce the brand new Eagle men’s basketball coach Robert Murphy.
Murphy worked for seven years at the Syracuse University as an assistant coach learning his basketball and teaching skills from the Orange basketball coach Jim Boeheim and Gragg describes his new coach as a man with confidence and with effective leadership skills.
“We are excited about having Rob Murphy leading our men’s basketball program into the future,” Gragg said after the press conference. “Coach Murphy has been on staff of two outstanding college basketball programs and was a highly successful high school coach in Detroit, leading Crockett to the Class B State Championship in 2000-01 and was the associate head coach on the staff of Detroit Central High School that won the Class A state title in 1997-98. We feel that the experience with outstanding teams has prepared him for this opportunity.”
Gragg said that the search for a new coach took a great deal of precedent and he wanted the process to move quickly he also said there were plenty qualified individuals who enquired for the job but Gragg felt that Murphy would be a great fit and met Gragg’s requirements of what a basketball coach needs to be successful at the Division 1 level.
Murphy has a great profile, he is a winner were ever he has been, he has pedigree because he is a student of the game he knows the area his past performance and preparation is an exercise of tireless effort according to Gragg.
Gragg believes that Murphy will make NCAA Selection Sunday interesting around the friendliest basketball arena in the Mid-American Conference the Convocation Center relevant again and renew the pride of the program around the community and on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.
Murphy is not a stranger to the campus of Eastern Michigan University or to the Mid-American Conference working at Kent State University for two years before moving to Syracuse University.
His team at Kent State made two consecutive appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, the oldest basketball tournament that features NCAA teams with the Golden Flashes back in the 2002-03 and again in the 2003-04 before joining Syracuse University basketball staff of Boeheim.
Murphy said his basketball journey was long and emotional and his dream when he was playing basketball at Detroit Mumford High School was to come back and teach in the Detroit school system and become a coach in the Public School League.
He guided a high school that has no home gym, Detroit Crockett to a Michigan high school Class B state championship in 1999-00 and as a second year as a basketball coach and working at Detroit Central High School his team won the Class A state championship 1997-98.
“I have been a leader all of my life,” Murphy said. “Building a program from the ground up with a family foundation because family is extremely important to me and the first thing I am going to do is put a strong staff together guys that will work hard daily.”
Murphy believes that he can win here but he says that it will take a concern effort from everybody in the community and from the students but he has the support from Gragg but from the Board of Regents and from the Eastern Michigan University President Susan W. Martin.
“Murphy has been waiting for this position for a long time,” Martin said before the introduction of Murphy.
Murphy is reaching into the rich basketball tradition and players that have put on and wore the Eastern Michigan University jersey, he has been in conversation with many former players and has extended the welcome mat to come back and guide the future of Eastern Michigan University players.
“Connecting with the future with the past is important,” Murphy said. “The guys that wore the jersey in the past are the most important mentors to our student athlete.”
“I have a vision and I dream a lot,” Murphy said at the conclusion of his introduction at the Convocation Center. “Everywhere I have dreamed my dreams have come true and this is a dream for me and I will not sleep until we get into post season play.”
Murphy possesses all the ingredients to succeed at Eastern Michigan University, he is from Detroit and has a solid reputation with many high schools in the area and across the state of Michigan, he wanted to come to Ypsilanti and take over a program that his former boss Boeheim described as a mess and a challenge.
A dreamer though with vision and that wanted the job at Eastern Michigan University will embrace the challenge and change the nightmare of basketball at Eastern Michigan University into sweet dreams.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.