Gophers & # 39; players on the floor ran towards their coach to find answers. The problem was that the only man who might have been able to revive Minnesota's sweet 16 hope was not among them.
Slowly, Jordan Murphy laid behind the bench against Gophers & # 39; huddle and groomed with every required step, using Gophers & # 39; bench seats to help his efforts.
When he turned the corner toward the huddle, Murphy looked at someone in Gophers & # 39; robust cheering section and seemed to say, "I can't. I can't."
Murphy started but he only played five minutes Saturday. It was evident during the pregame warmups that Murphy worked and could not do much in the way of moving. Murphy could barely put his stockings on Saturday morning and struggled to get up and down the court when the Spartans passed by Minnesota.
"I should at least try my boys and show them that at least I could try them and give them everything I had today," Murphy said. "I tried to play through it. Really couldn't move. I was fighting out there. I just told that the coach would not be an obstacle to the team out there." Big Ten's famous Gophers career.
It was not the end of Murphy's college career deserved. And Pitino knew it.
So, with less than two minutes left in the game and the competition in hand for Michigan State, Pitino Murphy undermines the game, only to pull him out just moments later, giving Gophers & # 39; faithful opportunity to send Murphy the right way.
The Minnesota fans climbed to their feet and roared a "Jordan Murphy", a moment that reduced forward to tears.
Back injury caused Murphy physically unable to even sit on the bench. He was behind Gophers' reserve players for the game duration, leaning forward to a chair. But he became emotionally engaged throughout. He was only in one player with the other starters currently before the start of the second half and was active in each timeout.
You wouldn't expect anything less from the man who served as the heartbeat of this program for the better part of the last four seasons.
It was Murphy's fresh season when Minnesota won only eight games, embarrassing even on and off court. During the next three seasons, Murphy played an important role in a program tour that resulted in two NCAA tournaments, including the program's first tournament win since 201
One of the greatest things Murphy learned in Minnesota: Resistance.
"I don't think that's what I expected," Murphy said of his career. "But life is what you do. That's my biggest thing. … I think I'm leaving (the program) in a good place. I think I'm leaving it better than I found it, and that's it ultimate goal for each player. "
Murphy embraces his career with a program of 1,307 rebounds, No. 2 in Big Ten history and 1,766 points, fourth best in Gophers history. He is the most accomplished player in the program's latest history and can be one of his best ever. He was Mr. Reliable, never misses a competition in its four years. Saturday marked its 133rd appearance. The five minutes of the game marked a career low. Murphy is only 6 feet 6 and has a vintage game based on defense, rebounding and congestion.
His exact basketball future is a bit of an unknown, with this exception: He is remembered as one of Gophers' greats. It's a direct product of the heart and hustle and bustle that Murphy played – qualities demanded by Minnesota sports fans.
When he left the court for the last time in the last moments of the game, he was greeted by an embrace from his coach. Murphy was the backbone of the Pitino program built in Minnesota, and the coach admitted that it was hard to see his star forward, not getting a real shot to strengthen his team to his first unreleased Sweet 16 since 1990.
He's done so much and never has he ever bothered the program, never has he ever been to the team, "Pitino said. "He has been a great representative of himself, his family and of course for our basketball program. He is a special child. I want to miss him. He is a person I consider family and I appreciate everything he has given me because he put it all out there. Every ounce of sweat he's put on the line for this program. "