Minneapolis (AFP) – Iowa has a first team All Americans In three consecutive seasons, two for Luca Garza And one for Keegan Murray, which raises the natural question of who the Hawkeyes’ next star will be and how quickly he could emerge.
Chris Murray, as expected, has everyone watching the show staring right at him.
The Year 3 striker has a nifty 6-foot-8, 220-pound frame, irresistible demeanor on the field and has scored a sharp improvement after increasing his scoring average by more than nine extra points per game.
But the tendency to compare is inevitable for the human brain, and no more so in sports analysis, and the fact that Chris Murray is Keegan Murray’s identical twin brother will hover over him as long as he wears a hockey uniform.
“If he didn’t look like me, we probably wouldn’t have this conversation,” Chris Murray said at Big Ten Media Day in Minneapolis. “No one expected Keegan to make the leap he made when Luca left. I think that’s kind of a big difference. We have a really balanced squad this year.”
Keegan Murray, who averaged 23.5 points for leading the conference last season, left Iowa State after his sophomore year to enter the NBA draft. It was the fourth overall pick by Sacramento.
“It was a good thing that Keegan was in everything, so I’m not taking anything from him,” said Conor McCaffrey, the sixth year protege. “But there were a lot of shots that were in that squad that you have to do. So now different guys come in, every day in practice.”
One look through the Big Ten this fall reveals the trend of departing stars, rosters still in a somewhat awkward state due to waivers of eligibility for the pandemic season, lax rules about transfers playing on the spot and, as usual, the allure of the NBA career path.
Only eight of the conference’s top 25 scorers in 2021-22 have returned to their teams. Only nine of the top 25 used players in terms of minutes returned per match.
There are some notable contenders for the consensus title like Indiana’s Trace Jackson-Davis, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Purdue’s Zach Eddy who will top every game they play in 2022-23, but there’s a wide open stage in the league for less – mortal players like Chris Murray Or Tyler Wahl of Wisconsin or Cliff Omuroy of Rutgers forward team.
The Big Ten had three of the top 10 picks, with Keegan Murray, Purdue Jaden Ivy (No. 5) and Johnny Davis, Wisconsin (No. 10). Seven other players have been drafted, including two players from Ohio (owners Branham and EJ Liddell) and Michigan (Caleb Hustan and Moussa Diabate).
Naturally, the transfer portal had come out around the conference with the potential arrival of instant impact like Jaelen Llewellyn (Princeton) of Michigan, Dawson Garcia of Minnesota (North Carolina) and Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech) in Illinois.
But the Big Ten was formed long ago by a group of head coaches who have remained as committed as they can be in this era of managing development programs.
Michigan State’s Tom Izu lost his top three scorers from last season but refused to pursue any transfer substitutions – even with a non-conference schedule he described as the “wildest” ever. The Spartans play Gonzaga, Kentucky, Villanova and Notre Dame, as well as a trip to Oregon for the Phil Knight Invitational that matches them against Alabama and potentially other strong opponents depending on how the arc appears.
“I choose the path I choose. Chemistry, camaraderie, culture and loyalty are all really important to me,” Ezzo said. It worked. new era? It probably won’t work. But I love where we are now.”
Established coaches with consistent success have more room to be patient, for sure. Matt the painter in Purdue, Greg Gard of Wisconsin, and Fran McCaffrey of Iowa followed a similar philosophy. Ohio State’s Chris Holtman will count on freshmen more than ever, with outstanding freshmen Bruce Thornton, Bryce Sensabao, Rudy Gale Jr., Felix Okpara and Bowen Hardman, putting the Buckeyes at nearly the top of the top ten employment rankings.
This season, then, should serve as a test case of sorts for many of the top teams in the conference as they place the value of stability against some of the other strong programs across the country who may rely more on game-ready transfers.
“We all jump year after year,” Chris Murray said. “The thing about basketball in Iowa is that we’re always getting better.”
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