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Today GI looks at power forward Jordan Murphy and his sophomore year

Jordan Murphy entertained a Gopher fan base as a freshman in what was a tough season to enjoy in 2015-16. Murphy was an All Big Ten Freshmen team player and fans are excited for his sophomore year.

Statistically Speaking

The Good

Murphy led the team in rebounding, free throws made, field goals made, games played, blocks, steals, and was the second leading scorer. Murphy was actually the fifth leading rebounder in the Big Ten at eight a game plus his 11.6 points per game as a freshman was the eighth highest freshman scoring total ever in Gopher history. Jordan had nine double-doubles, shot 46 percent from the field, and made 61.2 percent of his foul shots which is an okay number for a freshman four man.

The Not so Good

Jordan’s off-season focus was/is his perimeter stroke. As a 6-foot-6 power forward Jordan is working on his skills to also be able to play some small forward (or at least more like a face-up four man at the arc). He made 9 of 41 three-pointers for the season and 37 percent of his attempted treys were taken in the last six games. Murphy also needs to cut down on the turnovers as he led the team with 55 (nine more than any other player). Also, Jordan has to avoid those silly first half fouls that left him on the bench during opposing runs. He was in foul trouble way too much as a freshman.

Focus on 2016-17

I think the end of the season games without the three guards is something that will motivate Jordan Murphy going forward. Jordan had a fantastic freshman year but when the ball was put in his hands as the lead shot creator he struggled in the final contests.

Murphy was fine against Wisconsin (10 of 21) and Illinois (7 of 12) but he made just 6 of 35 field goals attempts and scored just 16 points in the last two games. Add in the missing on 32 of 41 three-point attempts and Jordan had a clear focus for the off-season.

Jordan is one of the most physically explosive players I’ve ever seen in a Gopher uniform. The amount of times where he attacked baseline and the defense seemed to be in decent position but Jordan muscle bounced his way to a score over a player shocked me every time (I want to coin that phrase ‘muscle bounce’ again please!).

Murphy’s backside rebounding is a weapon that most teams simply don’t have an answer for. When Jordan’s guy (which is usually a big) has to rotate over that often leaves a guard or wing to make a box-out hit on Jordan and there are next to no guards or wings out there that are going to put a good box-out hit on 230 pound Jordan Murphy.

Murphy’s ability to face-up and attack other forwards is much better than anybody anticipated. His first step was able to beat the lateral steps of the initial defender and if the player was close to cutting off the angle Murphy was still able to just muscle by him. Then even when there were help defenders in good position Jordan was able to muscle and/or explode over them.

Where does Jordan need to improve? Let’s start on the offensive end. Murphy was fantastic but he wants to improve the things we talked about earlier (perimeter shooting, free throws, turnovers) but you can bet Murphy has spent a lot of time working on his face-up game from mid-range. He is really good attacking baseline (and his spin move is fantastic) but adding an attack move to the middle would help as would a one dribble pull-up out of the face-up and a simple face-up jumper after a back to the basket post up.

Defensively Murphy has some things he needs to work on. As amazing of a natural rebounder as he is Murphy could be even better. How? He is an inconsistent backside rebounder in terms of making and maintaining contact to get the ball and even though Jordan is talented, he is still 6-foot-6.  There were a lot of Big Ten bigs with size that rebounded past Murphy when he didn’t make a hit (there were often times he just stood there and gave opposing players an easy lane for second chances). Jordan also has to be more consistent as a team defender off the basketball which is usually true for all freshman.

The Right Stat Line

First off I think Jordan can be a double figure rebounding guy by the end of his career when he improves at making box-out hits. He will get better and grab nine boards a contest this winter on average. His 27 minutes a game will likely be up to about 30 as long as he is better about using his fouls. I expect the field goal percentage to be in the low 50s, the free throw percentage should be mid to high 60s, and Jordan is likely to block a lot of shots again.

What about points per game? I think as long as this roster has everyone we expect it to that it will be balanced and there wont be anybody with a huge points per game total but I would guess between 14-16 points per for Jordan as a sophomore.  How about I go with 14.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 30 minutes a game shooting 66 percent from the foul line and 52 percent form the floor!

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