Murphy becoming versatile on offense

Erik Murphy doesn't surprise opponents from the perimeter anymore. The three-point shot has become an important part of the power forward's game after shooting 42.1% from distance last season, but his goal is to become a threat in the paint this season. Heading into his final year in Gainesville, Murphy is expected to be a more versatile scorer and become tougher to guard.

"I think he's got to do a better job at the basket for us," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He cannot just be that guy that steps away from the basket and shoots it. I think he's proven himself to be able to do that pretty consistently. I think the next step for him is can he become a scorer from the perimeter and from the mid-post area or from the low post. He knows he needs to do that."

The thoughts from the coaching staff were presented to Murphy after last season came to an end. They wanted him to add some upper weight that will allow him to be a threat in the paint. He added the weight and feels more prepared to handle the banging near the basket this season.

It's not an uncommon thing for Murphy to do.

Last season, 26.7% of Murphy's field goals were two-point attempts. His improved shooting from behind the three-point line saw him taking more deep shots. As a sophomore, 40% of Murphy's field goals were two-point attempts. He took two-pointers during 36.3% of his attempts as a freshman.

The threat from deep will still be there this season, but the goal for Murphy is to be better rounded on offense this season.

"It's coming well," Erik Murphy said. "I feel really comfortable down there. It's really something I've been working on. It'll definitely help me. You've got to play me two ways, but it'll also open some stuff up for other guys on the perimeter if I do some stuff down low."

The added weight has Murphy comfortable getting post position in the paint before catching the ball. Once he does get it, he's starting to slow things down. Early in his career, his mind moved too fast after the catch and forced him into mistakes. Offseason work with assistant coach John Pelphrey changed that. Murphy is now in a position to have a big scoring year.

"Offensively, we've got to try to put him in situations where we can get him the ball where he can do a little bit more of that," Donovan said of getting Murphy in the paint. "There are times that, because people want to take away his shooting, they switch on him with smaller people.

"Smaller guards—they front him and get into his legs," Donovan said. "He's got to do a better job of understanding how to take advantage of those things, and we've got to do a better job of getting the ball to him. I would say that would be the next step for him would be to be a guy that can score under the basket."

His teammates saw a different side of it last year. When the Gators hit the court in practice, Murphy went up against Will Yeguete and Patric Young in the frontcourt and was able to score. For whatever reason, it didn't translate to the court during games.

The increased work on his post game during practice should give him an added boost during games this year.

"I think last year he struggled with a lack of confidence," Young said. "From what he can do in practice, he shouldn't have a problem scoring over anybody. He has worked really hard this summer, as far as bettering himself in the post and gaining that confidence back. He's going to surprise people with how well he's scoring this year. "

Donovan went as far as to say that Murphy "has to" become a more versatile scorer for the Gators to be the kind of team they want to be on the court. He expects Murphy to surprise some teams with his efficiency in the paint.

"He's actually a good low post player," Donovan said. "When he catches the ball, he's actually a pretty efficient scorer. The difficulty last year sometimes in the post was getting the ball. The biggest thing for Erik is catching it. Once he can establish a catch, I felt pretty confident that he could score."


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