Daily Republic Q&A: DWU's coach Murphy excited about young rosterThere are 18 freshmen or sophomores on the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball roster this season.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
There are 18 freshmen or sophomores on the Dakota Wesleyan University men’s basketball roster this season.
It’s a young team, no doubt, and head coach Shane Murphy knows it.
Murphy, entering his third year with DWU, and the Tigers kicked off practice last week to get ready for the 2012-13 season.
Last season, DWU finished 7-13 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference and 15-15 overall. In the standings, the Tigers were ninth in the 11-team league.
Despite such a young roster and several incoming transfer players, Murphy is anticipating a stronger season and is hoping to make the national tournament for the second time in the past three seasons.
Through a little more than a week of practice, Murphy said he’s seeing good things from his team.
“I like our energy, and I like how together our guys seem to be,” Murphy said. “With all the new faces the last couple of years, the way this group has gelled, I really like what I’m seeing chemistry-wise and energy-wise out of them.”
The following are excerpts from an interview with Murphy discussing the upcoming season.
Q: What do you look at last season as? Was it a growing period, a failure or a step into the next season?
A: Just from a record standpoint, it was obviously disappointing. But from a program standpoint, I feel like what we got accomplished last year was actually pretty positive by getting some young guys some valuable experience. We really started developing what I feel is the foundation of this program for the next few years to come.
Q: Talking about some of the young guys, you’re recruiting class this year has a lot of freshmen and incoming transfers. Are there any big names that you’re excited about or will look to contribute right away?
A: All of the freshmen that are coming in we’re really excited about, especially the local guys.
You’ve got guys like Jade (Miller) and Matt (Henriksen) from here in town, Kyle Mathis from Winner and Trae Bergh from Tri-Valley. … All of them are doing a great job, but where they’re going to fit into the rotations and how much time they’re going to get depends on how they continue to progress here through their freshmen year.
… As far as transfers, Aireus Stephenson from South Dakota State has been really, really good. Danny Maman, the kid from Glendale, Arizona, is been great, very steady on the wing and a very good shooter. Those two guys in particular have done a great job as transfers coming in, and George Barrow, a young man we got real late is going to give us some depth on the front line.
Q: This has to be one of the biggest incoming classes you’ve ever had, is that correct?
A: Last year was a pretty big class, too. But it’s kind of that way when you take over a program, especially the first two classes you sign and bring in.
It’s a natural progression as the old regime graduates and funnels out, you’re going to have pretty big recruiting classes in the first couple of years.
Now that we’ve done that, you’ll see the sizes of our classes and number or recruits kind of diminish a little bit.
Q: Does that make you more comfortable that it’s a team full of your guys that you recruited instead of guys that are left over from the team you inherited?
A: Well, yeah. I think maybe Bo (LaCroix) might be the only guy left over from coach Hemenway’s recruiting efforts.
We feel like we’re getting our people in, and whenever you do that you start to feel good about the energy and everything that goes on around in your program. I definitely get that feeling this fall, and feel like we’re on the right track.
Q: With last year being a seven-win conference season, how many wins would be a successful year this year, either in the GPAC or overall?
A: That’s a hard one to answer. The best way I can put it, I just want us to take a step in that direction where we’re competing with the top two or three teams in this league. With Dordt, Northwestern, Briar Cliff and a couple others that I feel have some strong players and programs back … The order is going to be tall for what we need to accomplish to win this league, but I definitely see us being competitive at the top of the league against those programs.