by Greg Steiner, Published March 05, 2012
YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) - It did not take long for Eastern Michigan University Head Men's Basketball Coach Rob Murphy to make his mark on the Mid-American Conference as the first-year head coach was named Mid-American Conference Men's Basketball Coach of the Year for the 2011-12 season.
"It's humbling for me to be honored as the MAC Coach of the Year," Murphy said. "I credit my staff for their daily commitment and preparation in all areas of our program as we continue to lay our foundation."
"I thank Jim Boeheim (Syracuse) and Jim Christian (Kent State) for the opportunity they gave me along with the knowledge I learned the previous nine years as part of their coaching staffs," Murphy added.
"We were excited to hire Rob Murphy last April to lead our men's basketball program into the future," EMU Director of Athletics Derrick Gragg said. "That confidence was rewarded much quicker than we had anticipated and Rob proved his outstanding coaching ability after leading a team that was picked last in the division in the preseason to a Mid-American Conference West Division title. We are pleased with the success this season and are looking forward with great anticipation to the next few years in men's basketball."
Murphy is one of just four coaches to earn the Coach of the Year Award since its inception in 1970. The other first-time winners were Darrell Hedric (Miami) in 1970-71, John McDougal (NIU) in 1976-77, and former EMU men's basketball player Stan Heath (Kent State) in 2001-02.
Former EMU Head Coach Ben Braun, now the head man at Rice University, won the MAC award three times, in 1987-88, 1999-91 and 1995-96.
Murphy is also one of just four MAC coaches to lead his team to a division title in his first year. The MAC split into divisions beginning with the 1997-98 campaign. The other coaches to accomplish the feat in their first season include: Kent State's Heath (2001-02), Kent State's Jim Christian (2002-03) and Western Michigan's Steve Hawkins (2003-04).
The 2011-12 Eagles, picked for sixth in the West Division and 11th overall in the preseason poll, won the West Division with a 9-7 record. That title was EMU's first-ever West Division championship.
Murphy was named EMU's head coach, April 21, 2011, after spending the previous seven years as an assistant men's basketball coach at Syracuse University.
Prior to his Syracuse coaching stint, Murphy was a member of the Kent State University staff for two seasons, 2002-03 and 2003-04, and the teams turned in back-to-back 22-9 seasons on the way to two Mid-American Conference East Division crowns. Both teams were invited to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
After that successful two-year stint as an assistant for the Golden Flashes, Murphy joined Head Coach Jim Boeheim's Syracuse University men's basketball program as an assistant. During his seven years on the staff, the Orange recorded a 180-67 overall record and played in the post season every year, with five NCAA appearances and two NIT stops.
Murphy began his coaching career in the Detroit Public School League (1996-2002), three as the head boys basketball coach at Detroit Crockett Technical High School. He led Crockett to the Class B State Championship in 2000-01.
A 1996 graduate of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, Murphy was a two-year starter on the basketball team and the team's Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
After graduating from Central State, Murphy returned to his hometown of Detroit to begin his coaching career at Detroit Central High School staff as the associate head coach in 1996-98. Central won the state Class A championship in 1997-98 after finishing runner-up in 1996-97.
A native of Detroit, Murphy attended Mumford High School where he graduated in 1991 after lettering in both football and basketball, earning All-State honors in football.
He and his wife. TeNesha, have one son, Robert II (4) and a daughter, Ryann (1).