Virginia Tech’s Storm Murphy: ‘Still a lot of work to do’
Storm Murphy had offers from several Big 10 schools to use his COVID redshirt year close to home, which for the former Wofford guard is Middleton, Wisc.
He also had a connection with the first coach to offer him a D1 scholarship out of high school, Mike Young, who left the SoCon for Virginia Tech after Murphy’s sophomore year.
“When he wanted to explore doing a fifth year, it wasn’t a, you know, hey, I’d like for you to come Virginia Tech, OK, I’m coming here,” Young said in a Monday Zoom with reporters. “Several from the Big 10, and that lure was concerning for me, I don’t know who in that league, but I know he had several closer to home that he could have chosen from, but ultimately decided to come here.”
That decision was a big step for Virginia Tech toward the program winning its first ACC championship this season, with Murphy averaging 8.1 points and 2.8 assists per game as Young’s point guard.
He upped those numbers in Tech’s ACC Tournament title run, pouring in 11.8 points and 4.5 assists per game as the Hokies streaked through four games in Brooklyn.
Virginia Tech, an 11 seed in the East Region, gets sixth-seeded Texas in the NCAA Tournament first round on Friday, fittingly, for Murphy, in Milwaukee.
“When I saw that we’re going to Milwaukee, I was just ecstatic, I’m really excited to go do that,” Murphy said on Monday. “I live about an hour 15, hour 30 from there, and yeah, I already have so many friends and family hitting me up for tickets and seeing if that’ll work out or whatnot. I’m going to have a ton of people there. For me, it’ll feel almost like a home game, like, a really, really special event and atmosphere for me.”
Murphy averaged 17.8 points and 4.3 assists per game as a senior at Wofford a year ago, and played in two NCAA Tournament games for the Terriers in 2019, scoring 11 points and dishing out three assists in the first-round win over Seton Hall.
Former Wofford teammate, and current Tech leading scorer, Keve Aluma, was also on that Wofford team, and averaged 7.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in that NCAA Tournament.
That experience should prove beneficial heading into this week’s first-round game.
“I think it will help a lot, actually,” Murphy said. “It can be a quite an experience playing in a March Madness game, the nerves or just the energy, just the magnitude of it all. I think that will help us really stay composed and even-keeled. We’ve had experience, and had experience winning in the NCAA Tournament. So, I do think that that will really kick in, and even with as big of a deal as ACC championship was, that was how many hours ago, I think that was such a big deal, when the world was watching, and we stayed level-headed, and we were poised and ready to go, the whole team was, and so I think most of the team will be able to really lock in and really handle it really well.”
The concern for Hokies fans going into NCAA Tournament play could be ACC Tournament hangover, but Young doesn’t think that will be an issue for his team.
“So, you know, treat this week properly, took yesterday off, obviously, and getting home, probably won’t do a lot today, after those four games in four days,” Young said. “But they’re in here now. We’re doing yoga and lifting, and we’ll shoot a bunch and get them out. And we’ll have three solid days to prepare for the Longhorns together.”
Murphy said it had already begun to sink in that this team’s journey is not yet over.
“I think we a little bit felt that this morning, you know, coming back to Blacksburg and realizing there’s definitely a lot of basketball to be played still, that we’ve got to lock in,” Murphy said. “It is a great feeling to have just won the ACC championship. We want to take that confidence, maybe the celebration will be delayed, but we want to bring that same confidence that we have of that high of winning into this week and into our preparation for Friday.”
For Murphy, the success down the stretch – Tech has won 13 of its last 15 games after a 10-10 start – feels like things are “kind of coming to completion, into full circle, for our team, and it feels complete, it feels like we’re clicking more consistently like we did expect to.”
“I think maybe, what goes into that, what goes into getting to this point, I think, the expectations were huge, and when we hit some losses and hit some struggles and didn’t start off great, that was hard, it was a tough place to be in,” Murphy said. “But I think that actually, looking back, that really helped us grow in so many areas to lead us to where we are today, not only X’s and O’s and not only on the court, but the things off the court and relationships and becoming men who are going to be mentally tough and get through this and not give up at all. I think really those instances and the struggles and some of those losses really helped us to come together and then be able to show that on the court now.
“Coach even alluded to it when we were struggling, when we were 2-7, he talked about when this thing turns, and it will, it’s going to be beautiful, it’s going to be miraculous, it’s going to be awesome. And it’s crazy how that how that really has happened over this last week, you couldn’t have written it better,” Murphy said. “It was cool to believe in ourselves and then see that confidence, that work and everything, result the way it did and to be ACC champs now. So, it definitely is really, really, really cool. But there’s still a lot a lot of work to do.”
It’s “crazy,” Murphy said, that sometime in the next few weeks, this is it for him, as far as college basketball is concerned.
“For me, not having an extra year next year, this will be it, and so I want to make the most of it. I’ve already played 160-some games, and I want to make every single one of these count, as many as we can keep going,” Murphy said.
“I was getting emotional yesterday talking with my parents just about this year and just about the transition and coming here and the adjustment, and how it can be hard at times, there’s ups, there’s downs, and it can be a little roller coaster, but my goodness, it’s just a testament, I think, to this program and Coach Young and the people here that helped push me and want the best for us, and so we’re going to do everything they can in their power to get that. And so, just the way it ended is really special to me. It means a lot, and I’m very, very proud to be an ACC champ,” Murphy said.
Story by Chris Graham