Syracuse has fielded a talented stable of big men over the last seven years, even though Terrence Roberts and Darryl Watkins fell short of expectations. For all his faults, Donte Greene was a very good scorer. Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson weren’t as heralded coming out of high school, but both maximized their ability while donning Orange. Currently, the jury is still out on Fab Melo, Baye Moussa Keita and DaShonte Riley, but all three ooze promise and upside. Additionally, Rakeem Christmas has all the tools to be a dominant defensive force in the back of the zone. The future looks undeniably bright.
The presence of all those players (save those first two) wouldn’t be possible if not for the tireless work of assistant coach Rob Murphy, both on the court as well as on the recruiting trail. For those who haven’t gotten word, Murphy accepted an offer to become the next head coach at Eastern Michigan University, and will be formally introduced later today. Murphy leaves the ‘Cuse after pouring in seven seasons under Jim Boeheim. It’s hard to be too surprised by the move, as younger assistants perpetually look for opportunities for their next step up. After Mike Hopkins was designated as the head coach in waiting and Murphy developed his reputation with a major program, it only became a matter of time.
Though it’s hard to say exactly how much credit he can take for Hakim Warrick’s sensational senior year (which came in Murphy’s first season with Syracuse), his accomplishments proved that he could coach a little. Below are just some accolades earned by SU’s forwards under Murphy’s tutelage:
Hakim Warrick – 2005 AP All-American, All-Big East First team and Big East Player of the Year
Donte Greene – 2008 All-Big East Second Team, averaged over 17 points per game as a freshman
Wes Johnson – 2010 AP All-American, All-Big East First Team, Big East Player of the Year, #4 pick in 2010 NBA Draft
Murphy had a hand in the development of four of Syracuse’s top 20 career rebounders. The Eagles (why Eastern Michigan University’s teams aren’t known as the Emus will forever be a mystery to me) are getting one of the prized assistants of the Big East, and certainly the best rapper in that category. The move also opens up the possibility that Jim Boeheim schedules a game against his now-former colleague in an effort to soldier on in the Orange’s recent competitive onslaught against the state of Michigan.
Later this week, we’ll discuss some potential successors to Murphy, and the early returns imply that the most realistic candidates are all former players under Boeheim, which I feel is a good thing. Until then, however, CuseOrange wishes Murphy, a great coach and a terrific community guy, all the best with his new gig.