Home Illustration Keegan Murray’s breakthrough for Iowa basketball is here

Keegan Murray’s breakthrough for Iowa basketball is here


For as long as he can remember, Keegan Murray has been able to count on the advice of his father Kenyon to be on hand in any situation.

Even last season, when Keegan was “grateful” to have the key contributor role as Iowa chased a national title with National Player of the Year Luka Garza doing it all, Kenyon often reminded Keegan that the bucket approach would be best. future success strategy.

“He told me to look at where I was a year ago,” Keegan says. “I don’t think I would be in that position at the time. He said to keep working hard and everything would work out.

This time, however, Kenyon was wrong – or at the very least, he totally undersold the entire “working” part of the master plan for his son. After contributing 7.2 points per game last season for the Hawkeyes, the versatile 6’8 “forward more than tripled his production in his sophomore, posting 24.6 points per game, good enough to lead Division I masculine.

Murray dribbles against a defenseman from Virginia.

“It’s a big jump,” Keegan says, laughing. “Honestly, I can’t say I thought it would be this big. I’ve always been a guy who could score. During the offseason, I really focused on improving the consistency of my jump shots and being able to score more effectively at all three levels.

The result? Substantial increases in his numbers in virtually every statistical category, including shooting 61.2% from the field, 34.5% from the three-point line and 85.7% from the free throw line this season.

“The thing about Keegan is that he doesn’t shake,” said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. “He doesn’t mind the timing at all. He’s just a worker in every way.

Murray’s blue collar and tunnel vision approach is rooted in the fact that upon leaving high school, college coaches simply couldn’t see his vision. As a result, Murray graduated from high school with just one DI offering, from western Illinois. That said, Murray is aware that the “underrated” high school label is an uber cliché, and he’s outspoken about his stance at the time.

“I played on the Adidas Tour, but I played in the silver division for the Iowa Barnstormers, which is like Team B,” he said. “I was skinny and less athletic so a lot of teams were successful. I ended up doing a preparatory year and Iowa was the first school to offer. Like my dad said, everything turns out right if you get down to business and focus on it.

The gift of being overlooked and underrated in high school was that Murray never had the chance to develop the proverbial ego that tends to cling to five-star perspectives. “All the top ranked guys think he’s going to come in and be the guy,” Murray said. “I was just wired differently.”

Instead, Murray knew that to see the weather on a national title contender with Garza as the centerpiece of the offense, he would have to stand out in other ways. To that end, he set a goal for himself before his first season begins to overtake Garza every day in training. In the preseason, Murray was still the Hawkeyes’ top rebounder, raking 10 boards during practice.

“Coaches started to realize this pretty quickly,” says Murray. “Summer training, he did me most of the time, but I stuck with my plan and got to # 1. We were still # 1 and # 2 in training every week. It’s a mentality that I still keep today. This is what has helped me to have the success that I have had.

Make no mistake, Murray is not only fully aware of what’s to come, but it’s also clear that his sharp rise in production early in this season has caught many teams off guard. McCaffery says Murray being able to see how Garza has handled increased defensive attention will be invaluable as his target continues to grow this season.

“Luka accepted the challenge of dominating the people who were trying anything to stop him,” McCaffery said. “It motivated him more, and that’s what’s going to happen with Keegan. He wants the challenge and he accepted it. There are several ways it can impact the game. He scores points, rebounds, blocked shots. He doesn’t turn it over, he keeps the best front row player on the opposing team… He never really thinks of himself, quite honestly.

Even in freshman Murray knew how rare it was to be able to soak up knowledge and learn positive habits from the best player in the game and took full advantage of it.

Keegan Murray Iowa Dunks

“Being with Luka last year really opened my eyes to the way he approached every game,” said Murray. “He knew he was the best player on the pitch every night. This is how I feel this year. Anyway, I know I worked to be great. I have all the skills I need. The only thing I am focusing on now is my effort; It’ll get you rebounds, points and stuff like that. Trace reports cannot account for your efforts, and I will always give myself 100% no matter how much attention the defense gives me.

In the meantime, Murray, who missed Iowa’s 77-70 loss to No.1 Purdue with an ankle injury and is questionable for Monday’s game against Illinois, is enjoying a whole another kind of attention this year. From random fans shouting his name out of moving cars as he walks through downtown Iowa City to countless selfie requests, Murray learns the true meaning of the phrase “winner goes the loot.”

His newfound fame is the gift that keeps on giving, a truth his twin brother, Kris, a talented forward for the Hawkeyes who has his own breakout season (11.7 points, 5.7 rebounds), learned on the month. latest

“He’ll be walking downtown and people will be screaming ‘Keegan!’ Murray laughs. “He’ll go with it and take the picture pretending to be me.” Then he’ll text me and we’ll have a good laugh. Yeah, it’s been fun, but there’s a long way to go. We can be so much better, and I can be so much better. This is the only goal.

More college basketball:

Who will succeed Mark Turgeon in Maryland?
• Purdue Rises to No. 1 in AP Men’s Top 25
• Five takeaways from the Men’s ACC / Big Ten Challenge

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