Jack Murphy enters his third season at the helm of the Northern Arizona University men’s basketball program. With ties to the State of Arizona, Murphy has been able to take the Lumberjacks to new heights.
In 2013-14, Murphy was able to increase the Lumberjacks’ overall win total to 15-17 and 12-8 in conference play, while leading NAU to a second place finish in the Big Sky. That’s 10 more overall wins and 11 more conference victories than what NAU had the year before Murphy took over. January started off very well for NAU as it ended Montana’s 31-game Big Sky home winning streak. NAU’s season sweep over the Grizzlies was something that hadn’t been done by the Lumberjacks since the 2007-08 season. The Lumberjacks were the only team in the Big Sky to sweep the Idaho State-Weber State road trip, as it handed the Wildcats their first conference home loss this season, snapping a league record 27 straight home wins. Junior transfer guard Quinton Upshur was named the 2014 Big Sky Men’s Basketball Newcomer of the Year, in addition to earning Big Sky First Team honors, while Max Jacobsen was a Big Sky Honorable Mention pick. In his first season playing for NAU, junior center Len Springs finished with 58 blocked shots to lead the Big Sky and tie for third all-time on the NAU season charts.
In his first year as head coach, Murphy coached both Gabe Rogers and Stallon Saldivar to All-Big Sky honors. Rogers received first team accolades, while Stallon Saldivar received honorable mention honors. Murphy led the Lumberjacks to an 11-21 overall record and 8-12 mark in the Big Sky, as he coached the Lumberjacks to their first Big Sky Tournament appearance since the 2010-11 season.
NAU finished fourth in the conference with 69.2 points per game. Rogers led the league with 20.1 points per game, while DeWayne Russell ranked first amongst all freshmen with 13.3 points per game.
"Jack is an exceptional addition to NAU athletics and brings a strong recruiting presence that will attract outstanding talent to the program," said Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Lisa Campos. "Jack is committed to the university’s excellence in academics and athletics, and under his leadership the Lumberjacks will emerge as a competitive force in the Big Sky."
Since Murphy’s arrival in Flagstaff, he has started the Annual Lumberjacks Coaches Clinic that has brought an exceptional group of speakers to NAU, including George Karl, Damon Stoudamire, Josh Pastner, Sean Miller, Mike Dunlap, Dave Rice, Tim Grurich and much more. For Murphy’s NAU Annual Speaker Series, which helps raise funds for the men’s basketball program, both Karl and Steve Kerr have been guest speakers.
"Murphy’s experience at various levels of the game, recruiting success and knowledge gained from working with college and professional athletes make him an excellent fit for NAU," Campos said.
His career includes working for three successful programs that have a combined 400 wins, 14 postseason appearances and five championships.
"This is a program that has a rich tradition, has had past success, and I look to build on that success," said Murphy. "I hope to be there along the way as we grow together as a university and as a basketball program."
Murphy came to NAU after three seasons on the University of Memphis staff as an assistant. He joined the coaching staff at Memphis under men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner in 2009-10, posting a 75-29 record with three 20-win seasons.
During Murphy’s tenure, Memphis earned two NCAA Tournament appearances, earned an NIT berth and won a Conference USA regular season title and two Conference USA Tournament Championships. Murphy, who handled the Tiger‘s defensive efforts in 2011-12, was the lead assistant on a staff that guided the team to a sweep of the Conference USA titles while posting the 10th-best field goal percentage defense in the country.
Murphy was instrumental in Memphis securing a Top-5 recruiting class in 2010 featuring four players ranked among the nation’s Top 100 and two McDonald’s All-Americans. The class was ranked No. 2 nationally by Scout.com, No. 2 by Rivals.com and No. 4 by ESPN. The Tigers have signed three more Top 100 players since, including two more McDonald’s All-Americans.
In 2011-12, the Tigers advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season, losing to St. Louis in the second round. Memphis was the only team among the top-10 rated leagues in the nation to win its conference regular season title outright and also claim the league’s tournament crown, finishing with a 26-9 overall mark.
Memphis also advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2010-11, dropping a 77-75 decision to Arizona in the second round to finish with a 25-10 record. In Murphy’s first season, the Tigers advanced to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and advanced to the second round.
Prior to Memphis, Murphy spent three years working with former Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl where he served as an advance scout for the team. During his time, he gained a reputation as one of the league’s top "workout" trainers, working with the likes of NBA All-Stars Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony, along with rising NBA star J.R. Smith.
In Murphy’s three seasons in Denver, the Nuggets averaged nearly 50 wins a season and made three straight playoff appearances. In his final season in 2008-09, the Nuggets won a franchise-record 54 games (54-28), claimed a share of the NBA Northwest Division title and earned the Western Conference No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Denver advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1985, Billups and Anthony were named to the All-NBA third team and Billups played in the NBA All-Star game.
In 2007-08, Murphy helped the Nuggets to a 50-32 overall record and second-place finish in the Northwest Division. Denver was the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and lost in the first round. The previous year (2006-07), Denver finished the year with a 45-37 record and placed second in the Northwest Division. The Nuggets were the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and lost in the first round to the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
Murphy spent eight years (1998-2006) in Tucson with Pastner on Lute Olson’s staff at Arizona as a team manager, recruiting coordinator, administrative assistant, video coordinator and director of operations. In his eight years with the program, Arizona went 199-66 (.751), won three Pac-10 championships, one Pac-10 postseason tournament title, made eight NCAA Tournament appearances that included the 2001 national runner-up finish and two other Elite Eight (2003, 2005) appearances.
Murphy earned both his bachelor’s (2002) and master’s (2005) degrees from the University of Arizona.
Murphy and his wife, Michelle, have twin daughters Emma and Isabella and a son Dylan.