Jordan Murphy has been a consistent positive force for Richard Pitino. All signs point to him having another excellent campaign this season.
Murphy is listed at 6’6” and 240 pounds, but plays much bigger than his height would indicate. He has great length, which allows him to defend against bigger opponents as well as switch out on opposing 3’s.
REVIEW OF 2016-2017
There were two Jordan Murphys last season. The first was a middling player who struggled with fouls and forced bad shots on offense. The second was a ferocious player on both ends who played like a first team All-Big candidate. In the end, he was given All Big-Ten third team honors, which feels about right. Oh right, he also did this.
Murphy was the top rebounder for the Gophers, and was fourth in the conference in rebounds last year. Towards the end of the season, he also became a double double machine, finishing second in the conference with 12. Importantly for the Gophers, six of those came during the final eight games of conference play.
Like Lynch, Murphy also suffers from a propensity to commit silly fouls. He frequently had to sit during first halves because of early foul trouble, and fouled out of five games last season. He also had four or more fouls in 13 games last year. In some ways this was a blessing for the team because it accelerated the development of Eric Curry. That back up will not exist for the Gophers in the upcoming season.
OUTLOOK FOR 2017-2018
Murphy will pair with Reggie Lynch to form one of the best front courts in the conference. The two work well together, as Lynch’s rim protection opens up space for Murphy to grab boards, and Lynch can work the high post on offense to give Murphy space on the block. Murphy’s stat line has been consistent over his first two seasons of around 12 points and 8 rebounds, so expect to see something similar this season.
Like Lynch, Murphy will have to reduce his propensity for fouling because the backup situation is questionable after Curry’s off-season knee injury. If he can do that, and improve his free throw shooting, Murphy should have another strong season.
With the assumption that he can replicate his end of year form, Jordan Murphy has the potential to be a dominant presence in the post for the Gophers. His athleticism and strength will make him a rebounding and putback machine. If he has developed any semblance of a jump shot and improved his free throws, he will also be a matchup difficulty night in and night out. Post season Big Ten honors are certainly possible.