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Men’s Basketball: Murphy epitomizes the Notre Dame student-athlete

Bobby Griffin | Friday, March 3, 2006

Notre Dame senior Chris Murphy has witnessed events from a different perspective than his teammates during his two-year career with the Irish.

Murphy was a member of the 2004-05 team that missed the NCAA Tournament and suffered a tough first-round NIT loss to Holy Cross. The Irish senior returned this year for his final season to watch Notre Dame lose a number of close games and fight for a spot in the Big East tournament.

“[You want to] see Chris Quinn get a couple wins, [and] see those guys who are seniors get wins,” Murphy said. “And even last year we had so much talent, but we never really put it together. It was hard to sit back and watch all that … it’s almost worse not playing.”

The rarely used walk-on forward is a member of the Irish basketball team. He wakes up for practice with his teammates, suits up for games with his teammates and reports to summer workouts with his teammates. The only difference is, once the game begins, Murphy’s role virtually ends.

“I was treated just like a scholarship guy at practice,” Murphy said. “The only difference is they play in the games, and I don’t.

“Everyone wants their shot, but I know my role and I don’t expect anything.”

Murphy did not always lead this life at Notre Dame. The Irish senior was a student, and nothing more, for his first two years in South Bend.

But when he made the basketball team before his junior year, Murphy also became a college athlete. And while his teammates have simultaneously handled both lives during their careers at Notre Dame, Murphy has experienced both lives at separate times.

“The balance between that is hard sometimes,” Murphy said. “I had to balance the friendships I had made with my teammates and the friendships I had made before I was on the team.

“Before I looked at athletes differently, now I look at normal students [differently] – I have both perspectives and I think that’s helped out a lot and made it a lot better here.”

Lafayette College and other East coast Patriot league schools recruited Murphy out of Benet Academy in Downers Grove, Ill. But the senior forward said he knew he wouldn’t play professionally, and he made the choice to go to Notre Dame.

“I realized I was kind of burned out after basketball my senior year,” Murphy said.

So for two years, Murphy was a normal undergraduate. But he said he began to miss playing as time passed and decided to try out for the team after his sophomore year.

Murphy understands he is in a different position than his teammates and knows the extent to which he can affect the Irish. Murphy works hard in practice but said he likes to stay quiet during games because there is not much he can say.

But when Murphy shows up to practice, he said he works just as hard as his teammates knowing he will likely not be playing in the next game.

Murphy also understands when he goes home, he returns to his life as a student. Where some of his teammates might live together, Murphy signed the lease for his current house sophomore year with his non-basketball friends.

“There were times this summer where some of my roommates were here and I would get up at five to work out and they would still be up from the night before,” Murphy said with a smile. “That happened a couple times.”

So when Notre Dame fights for its postseason life Saturday against DePaul, Murphy will assume his customary role on the bench.

He said he wonders how college would be different if he had played at a school where he received more playing time, but Murphy has enjoyed his time at Notre Dame regardless of minutes.

“I don’t regret coming to Notre Dame at all,” Murphy said. “I’m going to graduate with a degree at Notre Dame, and I think I’ll do all right with a career, so I’m not complaining too much.”