Despite a famous dad, Murray earned his job with Wildcats

2010-01-21T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T09:33:06Z Despite a famous dad, Murray earned his job with Wildcats Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 21, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Except for the fact that his well-known father was rooting in person for the other team during Arizona's infamous 2005 Elite Eight meltdown, Luke Murray is aware there could be a perception about how he obtained his current position on the Wildcats' basketball staff.

You know, if Bill Murray called to see if there was a job for his son, in a program his son loved … would UA coach Sean Miller pick up the phone?

"There's some negativity associated with it," Luke Murray said. "Some people feel as if I'm just given opportunities like this, and that's frustrating because of how I've worked for it. As far as a reference, or him making a phone call, that's never happened."

Fortunately, Murray said, his family ties are rarely mentioned at Arizona. And besides, Terrell Holloway probably had a lot more to do with Luke Murray landing his UA graduate assistant job than Bill Murray did.

A sophomore point guard at Xavier, Holloway played for two years under Luke Murray on the New England Playaz traveling team, during which time Murray came to know Miller, and eventually suggested Holloway play for the then-Xavier coach.

Murray had long known then-Xavier assistant Book Richardson, who now holds the same position for Arizona, coming across the ubiquitous former New York Gauchos AAU coach at countless tournaments since he was 12 years old.

In short, Murray had the kind of connections that often result in Division I jobs, and, Miller said upon hiring him last summer, also had the work ethic.

Murray has "always worked really, really hard," Miller said.

Though not allowed under NCAA rules to coach as a graduate assistant this season, Murray said he helps out in practices where he can and has some administrative duties. Here's five other things to know about him:

1. He didn't grow up on a movie set as much as in a basketball gym.

"As a kid, I grew up 25 minutes from Fairleigh Dickinson (in New Jersey) and I'd go to the ABCD (recruiting camp) games there. I just watched all the games and became really immersed in the AAU world.

"Book was a big person on the scene in the New York area, so we developed a relationship from seeing each other at tournaments, and it kind of grew from there.

"I started coaching AAU as a senior in high school. I played in high school, too. But I was a better football player than basketball player. I looked at a couple of schools for football, but just decided I really liked the idea of being a (basketball coach)."

2. He said he's not sure exactly why, but he always rooted for Arizona as a kid - even though his father cheers for Illinois.

"He's from Illinois and he's a big Cubs fan, Bulls fan, Bears fan, and that was such a great run (for Illinois basketball in 2005). He was at the game in Chicago and then went to the Final Four in St. Louis. He kind of roots for his hometown teams - if DePaul's good or Northwestern's good, he just kind of latches on.

"I heard from a lot of people when I was coming out there that they weren't happy that he was rooting for Illinois (in its 90-89 win over the UA in the 2005 Elite Eight). He and I go back and forth a little bit on it. But now he follows us. He watches every (UA) game on TV. It's kind of like how Wildcat fans had Luke Walton and his dad went to UCLA."

3. As a graduate assistant, he's pursuing a master's in educational psychology.

"It's a challenge but it's been good. It's really helped me with some aspects of coaching. You really focus on student-teacher relationships, and there's some crossover with that and coaching. I'm taking a class this semester on motivation and that aspect is going to help you in coaching."

4. He keeps in contact with his mother, in Connecticut, and his father, in Rockland County, N.Y.

"I grew up with him in (Rockland County) and then went to high school in Connecticut, where my mom is. I'm really close to my mom, and my dad and I talk every couple of weeks. He's going to come out and catch a game, so it'll be fun for him to see what I'm doing. He came out for an afternoon back in August. So he's seen McKale Center but he hasn't seen a game."

5. He learned early in life that Southern Arizona has more than a basketball team.

"My mom took me to Tanque Verde (Ranch Resort on a vacation) when I was a kid. She rode horses, and my cousins were there. We were running around and swimming in the pool. That's more or less what we were doing. I'd never done anything like that, so it was a fun week.

"I didn't realize it was so close (to the UA). It was '97, the winter of the season they won (the NCAA title) … and I was always an Arizona fan. I've always thought one day of coming out here, and the stars aligned, so it made an easy decision."


• Who: Luke Murray

• Age: 24

• Position: Graduate assistant

• Studying: Educational psychology

• Hometown: Palisades, N.Y.

• High school: St. Luke's, New Canaan, Conn. (2003)

• College: Fairfield Univ. (2007)

• Previous experience:

2004-05: Assistant coach, St. Luke's High School.

2005-07: Coach, New England Playaz (AAU)

2007-08: Director of basketball operations, Quinnipiac (Hamden, Conn.)

2008-09: Assistant coach, Post University (Waterbury, Conn.)


• What: Arizona at ASU

• When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

• TV: FSAZ • Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 6 1 0 0.857 18 2 0 0.900
Utah 5 1 0 0.833 15 3 0 0.833
Stanford 5 2 0 0.714 14 5 0 0.737
Oregon State 5 2 0 0.714 13 5 0 0.722
Oregon 4 3 0 0.571 14 6 0 0.700
Washington 3 3 0 0.500 14 4 0 0.778
UCLA 3 4 0 0.429 11 9 0 0.550
Washington State 3 4 0 0.429 9 10 0 0.474
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429 10 8 0 0.556
Arizona State 2 5 0 0.286 11 10 0 0.524
California 1 6 0 0.143 11 9 0 0.550
USC 1 6 0 0.143 9 10 0 0.474

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
1/24 64-82
USC at
Oregon State
1/24 55-59
Washington State at
1/24 58-90
Arizona at
1/24 73-50
Arizona State at
1/24 70-89
Washington at
1/25 6:30 pm
Oregon State at
Arizona State
1/28 6:00 pm
Oregon at
1/28 8:00 pm
Stanford at
1/28 9:00 pm
Colorado at
1/29 7:30 pm
Utah at
1/29 8:00 pm
California at
Washington State
1/29 9:00 pm
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