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Though Forgotten, Jordan Murphy Is Dominating For Minnesota

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With two big games under his belt in 2017-’18 the Minnesota senior has thrust himself into early Player of the Year consideration.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Tournament-Michigan State vs Minnesota Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

What is that song by Dr. Dre?

“Forgot About Dre”, right?

That song and subsequent album was Dre’s first in seven years. He made that record, in plain terms, to silence the critics, the people who wrote off his rap career after the iconic 1992 release of The Chronic.

What those critics failed to realize is that while Dre was not “rapping” in that seven-year stretch, he was creating some of the most iconic hip-hop songs of the 1990s. Producing such hits at “California Love”, “Gin and Juice”, and “My Name Is”.

That long and possibly arduous introduction leads to my main point: Jordan Murphy has been forgotten about. The Minnesota junior forward is like Dr. Dre at the turn of the new millennium. He was slept on and out of the casual fan’s mind.

Surely, this is not his fault by any stretch. Heading into the 2017-’18 season, it was Nate Mason and Amir Coffey getting all of the recognition. That is not to say they were undeserving of the attention, but in the process, everyone overlooked Murphy.

But the giant is sleeping no more.

So far this season, Murphy has torn opponents to shreds.

In their season opener, Murphy was electric, scoring 35 points and snagging 15 rebounds. Better yet, the Gophers pulled away from South Carolina Upstate 92-77. You can make the argument that Murphy was able to be successful because of the opponent. USC Upstate was ranked 280th in KenPom coming into that game, so the Gopher’s hardwood prosperity came as no shock.

Perhaps the more impressive performance for Murphy was Monday evening against Providence. The 6-foot-6 forward notched another double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds, on the road no less. This time around, the lackluster opponent card could not be pulled. The Friars were ranked higher than the Gophers in KenPom going into that game, by 14 slots. While Minnesota was ranked 38th, Providence was slotted in the 24 spot. With the Gophers 86-74 win over the Friars that has since changed. An incredibly impressive performance from Murphy paved the way for that KenPom upset.

For those who are too lazy to do that math, Murphy’s averages put him in elite company so far this season. His 29 points per game are 12th best in the entire nation, and tops in the Big Ten. Also, the 14.5 rebounds he has seized per game is ninth in the country, and again, best in the conference.

What makes Murphy so hard to guard is his size. Usually, his 6-foot-6 frame would be considered far too small for a power forward. However, Murphy has unheralded strength and is often more athletic than most power forwards he faces. Due to that smaller stature, he is quicker than his adversary as well. All of that is packaged together with his ability to score on the inside and outside.

Thus, he can both bully defenders down low and pull them away from the basket too. Not only can this open up the paint for the Gopher guards, it also gives Murphy options offensively. He is just as comfortable shooting a mid-range shot as he is driving at the basket and scoring under pressure. Although he seems to prefer scoring around the rim and using his strength to his advantage. It this strength that bars him from becoming a mismatch on the other end of the floor too.

Murphy received the inaugural 2017-’18 Big Ten Player of the Week award last week. He could be in line to win the honor again depending on his performance versus Niagara tonight and against Western Carolina on Sunday.

It may be far too early to be talking about Big Ten Player of the Year candidates, but it is hard to deny that Murphy may be one of them. Yes, I know it is November, and obviously Murphy will have a hard time keeping this pace of play once conference play begins. I understand these factors people. Never the less, through two games, Jordan Murphy has proven to be the most valuable player in the conference. Without him, Minnesota would be at least 1-1. There is no way they win that game against Providence without him.

I believe the opening line of “Forgot About Dre” goes as follows:

“Y’all know me, still the same O.G., but I been low key.”

That line is the epitome of Jordan Murphy. He may not have the “haters” that Dr. Dre had back in 1999, but both were or had been forgotten about. What did Dre do when he was forgotten? He won a Grammy, and has since become one of the most iconic figures in rap (Truthfully, he already was that in 1999, in my opinion).

What will Jordan Murphy do? We have seen his capabilities, like we saw Dre’s, but will he put it all together? Will he have his own figurative 2001? We will just have to sit back and see, I suppose.