Eastern Michigan head basketball coach Rob Murphy leaves to become Detroit Pistons G League team general manager

Rob Murphy preparing Eastern Michigan during a timeout. 2012 photo By RMF14 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

3/17/2021

Eastern Michigan University Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee Statement:

It is with great respect and appreciation for the process that Coach Rob Murphy and I are releasing this joint statement to announce that Coach Murphy will be moving on from Eastern Michigan University to embrace a new opportunity with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. We have been honored to have Coach Murphy be a part of our EMU family. The work, dedication and growth of the men’s basketball program will be passed onto his successor with his support. We will begin the process of finding the next head coach and leader of the program immediately.

I would also like to personally say that our discussions have been a unique experience for a coach and an administrator to work together to forge a path of progress and growth for our student-athletes, University, and the coach himself.  We have built a blueprint for open dialogue and continued partnership that will serve the Eastern Michigan community well in the coming weeks, months and years.  

Eastern Michigan University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Rob Murphy Statement:

I wholeheartedly admire the open-mindedness and approach that EMU and specifically, Scott Wetherbee, have taken during this process. Collectively, we agree that the program has made great strides under the leadership of myself and our staff, and now, while it is time for me to take my next step, it is also time for the program to grow under Scott’s continued leadership and a new head coach.  

My time at EMU has been one of challenges and triumphs. I have grown as a man, a leader, and a coach.  This opportunity was presented to me initially under the leadership of Dr. Susan Martin and Dr. Derrick Gragg, I have had the unwavering support of former EMU Regent Jim Stapelton, and my last several years working with President Dr. Jim Smith and AD Scott Wetherbee have been guided by clarity of vision for our program.  I thank all of these dedicated EMU leaders for the support they have shown to myself and the program.  I would also like to thank all of the dedicated student-athletes and staff that have worked together, tirelessly and unselfishly, during my tenure here. I look forward to continuing to support EMU, as both a fan and during my next professional step.

Eastern Michigan University Department of Athletics Official Release:

YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) — After a decade as the head coach of the Eastern Michigan University men’s basketball team, Rob Murphy announced his departure from the University today, March 17. The decision was announced in a joint release with Murphy and EMU Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee. The second-winningest coach in program history, Murphy compiled 166 victories along with a Mid-American Conference West Division title (2012) and three postseason appearances (2014, 2015, and 2018).

Murphy has been named President and General Manager for the Motor City Cruise, the Detroit Pistons’ NBA G League affiliate. He will oversee basketball operations for the team while using his deep connections within the Detroit community and administrative acumen to grow and oversee business operations for the franchise.

A national search for the program’s 30th head​ men’s basketball coach will begin immediately.

In 10 seasons, Murphy helped Eastern Michigan make great strides. He finishes his career ranking second in the Division I era of EMU hoops behind E-Club Hall of Famer Ben Braun (185 wins).

Eastern Michigan struggled to find a consistent rhythm with 13 games either postponed, canceled, or rescheduled in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign.  Eastern Michigan finished with a 6-12 (3-11 MAC) record, but still found a way to lead the league in two statistical categories: steals per game and turnovers forced. The Eagles’ 8.8 swipes per contest ranked 13th in the NCAA, while the 15.4 TOs forced  was good  for  47th among Division I programs. Individually, senior Yeikson Montero led the conference and ranked 23rd in the country in steals per game (2.2).

During the 2019-20 campaign, the Green and White recorded a 16-16 mark and finished 6-12 in the MAC. The Eagles went undefeated in the Jersey Mike’s Classic taking the Rose Hall Division trophy back to Ypsilanti, winning an in-season tournament for the first time since 2014. The Green and White posted its best 10-game opening to a season in the Murphy-era before dropping a non-conference affair at Michigan State, Dec. 21, and matched the 1996-97 squad who reached the Mid-American Conference championship game, ultimately losing to Miami.

Redshirt senior Boubacar Toure finished his EMU career ranking first with a .652 field goal percentage to go along with All-MAC Honorable Mention and Defensive Team honors. On the academic side, redshirt sophomore Derek Ballard Jr. earned a spot on the Academic All-MAC Team.

The 2018-19 season saw Eastern post a 15-17 overall record with a 9-9 mark in MAC play. The Eagles saw success from senior James Thompson IV who became the all-time rebounding leader (1,452) passing Kennedy McIntosh (1,426) who held the record for 48 years. Thompson earned Second Team All-MAC and Defensive Team honors, while redshirt senior Elijah Minnie received an honorable mention team nod.

The 2017-18 campaign saw the Eagles reach tremendous heights, finishing with an overall record of 22-13, an 11-7 mark in MAC play, a trip to the MAC Tournament semifinals, and an appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The team’s success was highlighted on the court by Thompson, who was named All-MAC First Team, as well as All-MAC Defensive Team. Senior Tim Bond was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, while Minnie (Third Team), and Paul Jackson (Honorable Mention), also earned all-league honors. Thompson became just the third player to join the 1,000 point and 1,000 rebound club, while Bond became the all-time steals leader (238) and joined the 1,000 point club in his swansong.

The 2016-17 season saw the Eagles finish 16-17 overall and 7-11 in conference play.  Thompson highlighted a spectacular season on the court with an All-MAC Second Team nod to go along with Academic All-MAC and MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete honors. Bond was named to the MAC’s All-Defensive team for the second consecutive season, while senior Raven Lee set the new single-game scoring record with 50 points at Central Michigan, Feb. 28.

In the 2015-16 campaign, the Detroit, Mich. native helped Thompson to earn the league’s Freshman of the Year award. Thompson was just the second EMU student-athlete to earn the award in men’s basketball. Thompson was also named All-MAC Second Team after recording the third-most single season rebounds (352) in EMU history, along with the second-best single-season field goal percentage (.645), while Lee nabbed All-MAC Honorable Mention accolades. Additionally, Bond was named to the inaugural All-MAC Defensive Team after completing the season with the second-most steals (67) in a single season. Murphy’s defensive philosophy continued to shine as the squad set a single-season record in steals (312) and steals per game (9.5). In addition to its defensive prowess, the Eagles had an extremely successful offensive year as well, especially when it came to getting to the free throw line. EMU attempted the second-most free throws (854) in school history, while shattering the free throws made (616) record by 22 makes.

The Green and White saw its second-straight 20-or-more win season during the 2014-15 campaign as Murphy led the Green and White to a 21-14 mark on the year. The season was highlighted by his second win over a Big Ten Conference opponent when the Eagles knocked off Michigan, Dec. 9, inside the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. It was just the third time in EMU history that the Green and White have knocked off the Maize and Blue. In addition, Eastern made it to its second-straight postseason tournament when the Eagles qualified for the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). EMU held teams to a 38.6 field goal percentage, marking the 10th-best in NCAA Division I basketball during the 2014-15 season, while the Eagles saw one of its own make history for the second-straight season. Lee scored the second-most points in a single season by a sophomore when he totaled 586 points on the season. Not only did Lee garner that honor, but he became the 29th EMU student-athlete to reach the 1,000-point plateau. For his efforts during the 2014-15 season, Lee was named to the All-MAC Third Team after averaging 16.7 points per game, the most since Brandon Bowdry posted 19.9 points during the 2010-11 season.

At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, after guiding the Eagles to a 22-15 record and the semifinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, Murphy was named a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award. The Eagles’ 22 victories were the most since the 1996-97 season and tied for fourth-most in EMU history. Under Murphy, Eastern reached the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, marking the first time the Eagles had competed in postseason play since the 1997-98 season. During the historic season, the Eagles led the nation in field goal percentage defense behind the 2-3 zone Murphy implemented upon arriving at EMU. In addition to the team success, Murphy shaped Da’Shonte Riley into Eastern’s first ever MAC Defensive Player of the Year during the 2013-14 campaign. Along with Riley’s award, Karrington Ward was named All-MAC Third Team, while Lee scored the most points by an EMU freshman with 380.

In Murphy’s second season at EMU, the Eagles registered a 47-44 victory against Purdue. It was the first time since the 1996-97 season that EMU had beaten a Big Ten opponent. During the 2012-13 campaign, the Eagles used their stingy defense to beat Northern Illinois, 42-25. In that contest, the Huskies scored just four points in the first half and converted on 8-of-61 field goals, including holding NIU to just 1-of-33 3-pointers in the game. The Huskies 13.1 percent field goal percentage was the lowest in NCAA history since the shot clock was implemented. The season concluded with EMU winning two games in the MAC Tournament for the first time since the 1997-98 season to reach the quarterfinals.

After Murphy was hired on April 21, 2011, he and his staff worked tirelessly to implement his defensive philosophy and begin the process of reviving the EMU men’s basketball program. During Murphy’s inaugural season, 2011-12, the Eagles won Eastern’s first-ever MAC West Division Championship.

For his efforts in leading the team to the West championship, Murphy was named MAC Coach of the Year and Co-Coach of the Year in the NCAA District 14 Division I ranks by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

Murphy has been on the staff of two outstanding college basketball programs and was also a highly successful high school head coach in Detroit, leading Crockett to the Class B State Championship in 2000-01 and was the associate head coach on the staff of the Detroit Central High School team that won the Class A state title in 1997-98.

Murphy took over the EMU job with a strong understanding of high school basketball in the state of Michigan. He spent six years coaching in the Detroit Public School League (1996-2002), four as the head boys basketball coach at Detroit Crockett Technical High School.

A graduate of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, Murphy was a two-year starter on the basketball team and the team’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.

After graduating from Central State, Murphy returned to his hometown of Detroit to begin his coaching career at Detroit Central High School as the associate head coach in 1996-98.  Central won the state Class A championship in 1997-98 after finishing runner-up in 1996-97.

Murphy then moved on to become the head boys basketball coach at Crockett H.S. After his first team posted a 5-13 mark, the Rockets improved to win three consecutive Class B District titles and captured the state championship in 2000-01.  His Crockett teams had a 64-27 record and he was named All-Metro Coach of the Year by the Detroit Free Press in 2000-01.

From Crockett, Murphy joined the Kent State University staff for two seasons, 2002-04, as the teams turned in back-to-back 22-9 seasons on the way to two Mid-American Conference East Division crowns. Both teams were invited to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

After that successful two-year stint as an assistant for the Golden Flashes, Murphy joined Head Coach Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse University men’s basketball program as an assistant.  During his seven years on the staff, the Orange recorded a 180-67 overall record and played in the post season every year, with five NCAA appearances and two NIT stops.

A native of Detroit, Murphy attended Mumford High School where he lettered in both football and basketball, earning All-State honors in football.

COURTESY EASTERN MICHIGAN ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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