Souhan: Minnesota senior Jordan Murphy deserved better in final game


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Nov 11, 2008
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per Souhan:

Jordan Murphy hovered over the Gophers bench like the ghost of good times past.

One of the most durable and productive players in program history, the senior would spend all but four minutes of his last college game standing, gingerly stretching his back and whispering into the ears of shell-shocked teammates.

Back spasms aren’t merely painful and debilitating. They’re also fickle. Imagine being tased without warning by a vicious ghost.

Playing Michigan State with a bad back is like fighting Mike Tyson without a mouthguard, and Murphy’s stint lasted about as long as one round of a boxing match. Without his presence inside, the Gophers never made Michigan State sweat in its 70-50 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday night.

“We all love Murphy,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “He’s a great kid, a tough kid, the best rebounder on the planet, and it was sad not to see him be able to play.”

The Gophers’ Richard Pitino has coached in three NCAA tournament games. He has not finished any of them with the full use of his most accomplished player.

Murphy deserved the tribute, but he would have preferred to end his career the way he spent his career — taking elbows underneath the basket.

“That was hard,” Pitino said. “That was emotional. The hardest thing was that he couldn’t play in the game, trying to go to the Sweet 16. Because he’s done so much.”

Go Gophers!!
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