Richmond and Murrell to be Honored

At Saturday's K-State – NU game the jerseys of Mitch Richmond (No. 23) and Willie Murrell (No. 44) will be retired joining a Wildcat roll call of Ernie Barrett, Dick Knostman, Jack Parr, Bob Boozer, Lon Kruger, Chuckie Williams, Mike Evans and Rolando Blackman. Ironically, Richmond and Murrell rank 1-2 in scoring for 2 year Wildcat players, and No. 8 & No. 12, respectively, in all-time scoring.


What is the significance of the numbers 33, 20, 23 and 2 to former Kansas State basketball craftsman Mitch Richmond?

Those are Richmond's uniform numbers at Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Moberly (Mo.) Community College, Kansas State University and the Sacramento Kings. Nos. 33, 20 and 2 are already hanging from the rafters in retirement, while Saturday Richmond, and his No. 23 jersey, will be recognized.

K-State had not won more than 16 games in a single season in five years, but with Richmond and Bledsoe from Moberly, Will Scott from State Fair Community College, Norris Coleman from the United States Army, and a lad named Steve Henson out of McPherson High School, the Wildcats went 20-11 under first-year coach Lon Kruger.

"We had good chemistry," Richmond said. "Norris ... 'Sarge' was a character, but a phenomenal player."

Early in the 1987-88 season, K-State was blasted by Purdue, 101-72. At that point, Kruger completely changed the offense to where each possession went through No. 23.

K-State defeated No. 3 Oklahoma, and then won the next six, which included a 72-61 win over Danny Manning and the Jayhawks when Richmond scored 35 in a game that snapped KU's 55-game Allen Fieldhouse winning streak.

"I tease Milt Newton every time I see him about that game," Richmond said. "I tell him, 'Milt, you really were a great defensive player. You held me to 35 ... you didn't let me get 40!' "

KU would get-even later in the year, 64-63, but K-State closed out the regular season with five straight wins, and then went 2-1 at the Big 8 tourney with a 69-54 semi-final win over Kansas.

K-State, ranked No. 20, won the first two NCAA tourney rounds over LaSalle and DePaul to reach the Midwest Regionals in Pontiac, Mich. The Wildcats first defeated No. 1 seeded Purdue, 73-70.

"I remember coach Kruger taking us into a restaurant before the first game on Friday and on a board it was written that Purdue had the restaurant reserved for Sunday. They were that sure they were going to beat us again," said Richmond, who earned second-team All-American honors. "Coach saw that and was just livid. We were so ready to have another crack at them." That set up a fourth game of the season against Kansas.

In a tone of disgust, Richmond said, "I'm sorry, but I hate KU. On that particular day, I hated KU."

Kansas, a No. 6 tournament seed, won the game, 71-58, and "Danny and the Miracles" would go on to defeat Oklahoma in an all-Big 8 championship game.

Richmond and Manning became good friends as teammates on the 1988 Olympic team and Gold Medal winning 1996 Dream Team III squad.

As a pro, Richmond became one of just seven players in NBA history to average at least 21 points per game in his first 10 seasons. The rest of the class: Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson).

"I remember coach Kruger telling me if I would give him 30 minutes after each practice, he would improve my game, and I could maybe make it a career," Richmond said. "I did that and my game took off.


For the second time in his life, Willie Murrell was decorated with "FMOC" honors at Kansas State.

"I never thought I was that special, but in my senior year somebody gave me a "Famous Man On Campus" trophy," said Murrell. "I never thought I was famous ... never bragged on myself, but other people must have thought I was pretty good."

Of the retirement of his jersey, the 68-year-old Murrell said, "This is icing on the cake ... really humbling. That's a long time ago. It's my lash hurrah. It will be nice seeing it up there. That's awfully good company."

"To be included in that list is a great honor. It's something you dream about when you start, but then forget about it," said Murrell, who starred for the Wildcats in 1963 and 1964. "No. 44 is the number I wore in high school, it's the number I had retired at junior college (Eastern Oklahoma A&M), and the number I wore at Kansas State."

In only a two-year career, Murrell scored 1,112 points, which included 648 during the 1963-64 seasons, which ranks fifth for a single season, as does his 22.3 scoring average. His single-game high was a 39-point night against Missouri on March 7, 1964.

Along with his 20.6 career scoring average, Murrell averaged 10.7 rebounds making him one of only five Wildcats ever to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, and one of only seven to average a double-double for a career.

During Murrell's two seasons, K-State went 16-9, which included a first-place Big 8 record of 11-3 in 1963, and 22-7 with a repeat Big 8 title (12-2) in 1964.

Ironically unranked, the 1964 team defeated Texas-El Paso and No. 5 Wichita State in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Wichita, but then lost to No. 1 UCLA (90-82) and to No. 2 Michigan (100-90) in the Final Four staged at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.

"That's my greatest memory," said Murrell. "The opportunity to play against players from UCLA ... Walt Hazzard was the master-mind of that team, but they had the greatest stars in the game ... was a blessing for me."

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