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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Olivia Murphy Has Huge Year for Women’s Basketball

Courtesy+of+Beacons+Athletics.+Photo+Credit%3A+Tori+Pizzuto%0A

Courtesy of Beacons Athletics. Photo Credit: Tori Pizzuto

 

 

 

It’s a rarity for a D3 athletic department to find a true star player right out of high school. Usually freshmen require at least a season of development before they can make great contributions to their teams. It seems as though no one told that to Olivia Murphy. The freshman forward out of Canton, MA, was the story of the year for the vastly improved women’s basketball team. She averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds per game on her way to winning LEC rookie of the week a record seven times and grabbing the conference’s rookie of the year award.

When asked about all of these accomplishments, Murphy said “I didn’t expect as many points per game, I was always a good rebounder in high school. I didn’t expect rookie of the week seven times either.”

For Murphy and the rest of the Beacons, what really mattered this season was turning the team around from an underwhelming 8-18 effort last season. They managed to pull off a six-game turnaround and close out the regular season at a very impressive 14-11. Murphy said “I think that we had a lot of talent coming in this year, as well as some good talent from last year. I think it all just clicked when we all game together.” She added “Kirsten Morrison and Lauren Perra had huge impacts coming back, and we also had a transfer, Andrea Suffredini, who also made a huge impact for us this year, I think we had a lot of people that sort of connected.”

Murphy makes a good point about Suffredini. The junior guard and recent transfer from Suffolk was a significant shot in the arm for the Beacons, averaging nearly eight points, four rebounds, and four assists per game this season.

This team had to start the season with some adversity. They practiced half an hour away at Simmons College while their new gym was being constructed and even played their first two regular season “home” games on the neutral court. When asked about the challenge, Murphy said “I think that we did pretty well going to Simmons. We still worked hard. It was a long day for us. We would have to leave at 2:00 and we wouldn’t get back until 6:00 or 7. I think it helped us in a way, because we had more bonding time on the busses and we were together for a longer amount of time. Obviously playing on our court is so much better than traveling but I think it did help us.”

Personally, Murphy was able to improve her game in many ways this season. When asked about the area of the game in which she has grown the most, she said “I would say my offense has improved a lot.” She added, “I wasn’t very good at post moves and being strong, and I think that this year, playing with the post players that I’ve been playing with, they’ve made me better and I can finish a lot of shots now.”

Although they lost to UMass Dartmouth in the first round of the LEC Tournament this year, Murphy has a very positive outlook on the direction that this team is heading in. She said, “We have alot of great talent […] I feel like we can be really good next year and for the next few years.”

Despite a team consisting mainly of fresh faces, Murphy said that there was plenty of good chemistry amongst the ladies this season. She said “I feel like there’s a lot of team chemistry. I feel like it’s not any different from having older players. A lot of people have connected and it’s really good. The years to come will be even better because we’ll all still know each other and this chemistry will still be there.” Murphy also energetically assured me that she will definitely be returning next year.

A high turnover rate has been a problem plaguing women’s basketball here at UMass for the last few years, but it really seems as though the program has turned the corner and will retain quite a few of their best players — meaning that the proverbial graph is heading in the right direction for this squad.

Murphy said that she is thrilled to be the rookie of the year. She said, “It made me feel really great. There’s a lot of great freshmen in our league. Our league is great as a whole and it was a huge honor.”

Nothing personifies the team chemistry that these ladies have built more than Murphy’s answer when asked what athlete she looks up to the most. She said, “Not to be corny or anything, but I look up to Kirsten Morrison (sophomore center for the Beacons), because she’s a great post player and a really hard worker, and a great person too.”

When asked about what the goal is for this team going forward, Murphy said, “To have another successful winning season. Our goal should be to potentially go far in the LEC Tournament next year and win a few more games. Personally, I want to average another double double next year.”

Murphy said that she doesn’t check her stats because they take her off of her game, and it seems that’s a good strategy, because those stats were very impressive over her rookie season. The ladies put together a good year, but this group is hungry and with young talent such as Murphy, they are definitely the most improved team at UMass this year. We’ll have to see if this hot streak can continue, because they won’t be able to sneak up on teams.

It seems as though this is real and this group is here to stay.