Don’t make it weird…I just hope to not get a restraining order…
Growing up in Omaha, I grew up on Creighton basketball, but the love for Creighton has died…don’t worry I’m going to get to the reasons on this another day. Let it be known, I still respect the Creighton basketball program itself…
Anyway, Kyle Korver was my favorite. Something about players from Iowa always got me. Both of my parents are Iowa born, so maybe it’s just something I’m genetically predisposed to. Honestly, I hope that’s the only thing I’ve inherited through Iowan genes. Korver wasn’t just a shooter with great hair, he was a leader, and he was clutch. He wasn’t someone to just hang out behind the arch and wait for the pass to come to him, he moved (and still moves) so well without the ball. In 2003, the Bluejays won the Missouri Valley Conference championship game behind Korver who had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists. So yeah, he wasn’t just a shooter.
Sure there was Terrell Taylor and Rodney Buford as big names for the Bluejays in the late 90s and early 2000s, but no one stuck out like Korver. He got the ball rolling for the Bluejays to get national attention. His ridiculously good shooting got the Jays on the ESPN highlight reels, posters still hang of him in the CenturyLink Center, an arena he never even played in. His Creighton team his junior year, literally had no seniors, they won the Missouri Valley, and Korver (and Taylor) led the Bluejays to a double overtime win over freaking Florida.
I met Kyle Korver once. My wife and I moved to Ogden, Utah and shortly after we heard about a dodgeball tournament put on by former Jazz players Deron Williams, Korver, Wesley Matthews, and someone else I do not recall. My wife and I showed up just in time for the autograph line. We got in line, and I was like, we’re actually going to get to meet Kyle Korver? I thought we were just going to watch them play dodgeball, not actually meet these guys. So we’re in line for like 20-30 minutes. I see Korver’s wife, his brother Klayton, who people joke looks like Tom Brady, and also I think I was the only one in the entire place who knew Klayton Korver was a former Drake Bulldog. Anyway, my wife and I pass Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams, who cares about them? Korver is last, he sees my Creighton shirt, and I am speechless. It’s Kyle freaking Korver. He tries to make small talk, but I’m too weird. I just stand there like Garth Algar meeting Alice Cooper. After a minute, Korver is pretty weirded out I think and just pulls out a photograph of himself and autographs it. My wife asks if we could get a picture, that picture doesn’t happen without my wife there, if she wasn’t there I probably would’ve just walked off in shock. I have that autographed photo framed, with the dodgeball bracelet to show off that I was there. I think my wife is worried sometimes about how much I like Kyle Korver. Like when the Hawks are on, which is basically never, and she tries to talk to me and I can barely hold a conversation. Kyle Korver is on tv, he’s going to do something, everyone shut up.
Anyway, my wife and I move back from Utah after a while, we moved back in March. I’m checking up on the Mavericks recruiting, there was very little out there on what they were doing. Many of the recruiting sites still didn’t recognize them as a division one team yet. At first, I thought maybe Mitchell Farr might turn out to be a good player, but he leaves after his freshman year. I don’t remember fully what all the stats were, but I remember looking at his stats and compared what he did against UNO’s D-1 opponents versus non-D-1 opponents. He shot like 25% from the floor against D-1 opponents and even worse from behind the arch. CJ Carter had pretty decent stats as a freshman, so I was feeling alright about him, but still overall I wasn’t too sure what the Mavericks were doing for recruiting. I was worried that they may never get anyone good, and especially no one decent with some height. I think I was living in fear that in 2015-2016 the Mavs center would be 6’2″. They’d be one hella good Intramurals team.
There wasn’t much out there on their first full recruiting class as far as highlight reels or news articles. When one of my friends asked what I thought the Mavericks would do, if they would ever be good, I was like – well hopefully we can pick up some transfers from Missouri Valley schools, bigger conferences, and maybe we’ll start getting all those deadly three point shooters from Iowa that not a lot of people recruit too heavily. They’ll be okay in a few years I think.
I actually don’t pay that much attention to recruiting sites, I think they’re pretty dumb. Seems most of it is based on athleticism and, per Tom Osborne, who these players’ parents can get to write articles about them. Five stars, 3 stars, who gives a crap? Was Doug McDermott really a 3 star athlete? How about Damien Lillard, was he only worth 2 stars? Blake Griffin was the 6th rated power forward coming out of high school. I think the top 10 players are pretty accurate, but then after that it becomes a bit of a guessing game. I was watching an old Big East game a few years ago between Syracuse and Georgetown, everyone on the court was a 4 or 5 star athlete and the game was nothing but banked threes, missed dunks, and turnovers. Great game.
So in August of 2012, I’m checking the Omaha World Herald and there is an article on UNO’s newest basketball recruit named Rylan Murry. The article lists him as a 6’8″ stretch four from some place called West Branch, Iowa…which I assume is a made up place. He is compared to Alex Welhouse, who at the time was believed to be UNO’s best returning player. I watch his highlight reels, yeah he can totally hit the 3. I think to myself is he UNO’s version of Korver, is this the stretch 4 from small town Iowa I was thinking UNO could finally get some day, someone to bring attention to UNO? I’ve learned not to compare players like that. Everyone in Omaha wanted to compare Kaleb Korver to his older brother, they weren’t the same player, not even the same position, but everyone hoped for Kyle 2.0. I went to the UNO-UMKC game in Kansas City in 2013 when the youngest Korver, Kirk, played for UMKC. Kirk made a free throw and an Omaha fan shouts out “you’re still not as good as your brother.” Kirk Korver’s facial expression changed instantly, you could tell he was negatively affected by it, he wanted to jack up threes after that to show that fan wrong, but he couldn’t do it.
I don’t want to claim that Rylan Murry will be the UNO Korver, but I admit I was hopeful for it at first. Let me just throw this out there:
Kyle Korver’s first 9 games played at Creighton-
52 points (5.8 ppg), 21 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 38% from the field, 11 threes, 31% on threes
Rylan Murry’s first 9 games played at UNO-
65 points (7.2 ppg), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 54% from the field, 11 threes, 46% on threes
So let’s just say there is a chance to build on the resume….Also in a stats class at UNO I learned how to compare athletes at different levels and see what their comparable worth was. I thought to myself, I’d never need that to work in Marketing, no sense in keeping this skill in my head.
Anyway, I started looking at Murry’s highlight reels, and I’m thinking this guy can play, this could be UNO’s first legitimate D-1 recruit, but what does that mean? Keep in mind, at this time, I didn’t know if we should classify CJ Carter as a D-1 recruit because he didn’t have any other D-1 offers (though I’ve heard many rumors that he had an offer to Wichita State), Marcus Tyus had yet to play a game and didn’t have any other D-1 offers reported on the interwebs, Justin Simmons and Alex Phillips had also yet to play a game, but they were only going to be at UNO for 2 seasons. Murry picked UNO over Central Michigan and South Dakota, so it was like, someone actually picked UNO over someone else. It was a new feeling for sure.
Then it turns out he is selected All-State in Iowa. I think there is more merit being all-state in Iowa in basketball as compared to Nebraska. It’s a bigger talent pool in Iowa for basketball. Not saying that guys like Josh Dotzler, Antoine Young, Akoy Agau, Tre’Shawn Thurman, or Khyri Thomas would never be able to be All State in Iowa, they certainly would be. Historically Iowa’s high school talent pool is filled with: Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison, Doug McDermott, Harrison Barnes, Kyle Korver, Ricky Davis, Fred Hoiberg, and Raef LaFrentz. Nebraska’s is basically just Erick Strickl and Bob Boozer. Boozer, Omaha named a street after Bob Boozer, the most worthless street in the entire city. My wife was a D-1 softball player at Belmont, she is from the Pacific Northwest, basically a mecca for softball recruiting. Some of the girls on Belmont’s roster were All State in softball in Tennessee and she claimed that those girls wouldn’t have been on the JV team at her high school. I don’t really know where I was going with this, I think I just wanted to brag about my wife. Something about states having bigger talent pools…
At this point, I started following all of UNO’s potential recruits on twitter to see if they would say anything about where they would go to college. I quickly learned to not do that. Aside from it being slightly creepy, do you you know what high school dudes talk about? They talk about stuff that a guy in his mid-20s doesn’t care about. Math is stupid, girls don’t get you, we get that you go to the gym, and yes Kevin Durant is freaking sweet but thanks for filling us in. Rylan Murry is tweeting sarcastic insults at people he knows, how good at golf he is, pokemon is cool (haha), constant video gaming, and claiming he is a hipster. A hipster basketball player? Is this the world’s first? I don’t know how true of a hipster you can be AND be a division one athlete, but it kind of makes sense for Murry I suppose. When he’s on the court the other Mavs are playing to the rhythm of Eminem’s “The Way I am,” and Murry is asking if they can turn it to “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, or any one of the 25 different artists that have done that song. Is The Way I am still cool? I’m not into rap.
Part of me is surprised that Murry didn’t try and stay in Seattle when the Mavs played there. The Pacific Northwest is a hipster’s paradise. My work has an office in downtown Portland, and I was walking to work while I was there and I walked by a camp gear shop in which ALL the camp gear was designed in plaid. If that’s not hipster, I’m not sure if I have the correct definition of hipster. I have hipster friends, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to run into Murry at Legend’s comic book/coffee shop near UNO’s campus trading pokemon cards and trying to get in on the next Dungeons and Dragons contest. This may sound like I’m making fun of Rylan Murry, but I’m not, I think it’s bad ass.
When the 2013-2014 season started, I see that Murry wasn’t going to be playing. Okay, makes sense, lets have him for three years of eligibility instead of just two years, I was thinking. We’ve got Karhoff, Hagerbaumer, Rostampour, and Krych to weather this storm of ineligibility. I’d watch his shots in warm ups and could see he could clearly shoot, handle the ball a little even. We’ll have that 6’7″ kid from Iowa next year who can shoot the three, that should help.
At the start of the 2014-2015 season, I see Rylan Murry sitting toward the end of the bench. I felt like I was shot down, like, oh maybe he is a bust. I’m wrong, what the hell do I know about anything in this crazy world…I went all hipster. I’ve realized it too, I’ve paid so much attention to Rylan Murry that I’ve become the world’s worst uncle. Murry finally gets on the court and my friend instantly says, “who is this kid, he looks goofy.” Yeah, he kind of sticks out, like maybe he’s the team’s accountant, cashier, or they picked him up from the mail room. I become defensive, like I am actually this kid’s relative, just watch man, he’ll do something cool, like that little Asian guy sitting in the corner of the mafia brawl. That’s a Simpsons reference. When Tre’Shawn Thurman committed to UNO, I instantly wondered if he and Rylan Murry would get along, that’s how odd I’ve become.
By the way, have you ever seen that old SNL sketch with Martin Lawrence as the 12th man for the New Jersey Nets? I think I’m one of six people that have seen it and remember it. He’s at the end of the bench and he’s talking about how he never gets in, he has a portable television that he watches other games on, eats a bucket of fried chicken, and tries to talk to the new 11th man on how to deal with the end of the bench. I was hoping that’s not what Murry would become, like we’d look and see him in his Rivers Cuomo glasses trying to trade pokemon cards, bragging about how he just won some new pogs with his freaking sweet slammer, playing a game on his Nintendo DS, and eating a burrito. Actually when I think about it, being the 12th man doesn’t sound all that bad.
Murry picks up a few fouls, hey man, you’re making me look like a fool. A few plays later, he gets the ball and just drains a three. My friend begins to pay attention. Time goes buy, and we’re also sitting with this guy who is huge into Nebraska high school basketball and he’s talking about how there are some kids from Nebraska that should be on UNO instead of “number eleven.” About ten seconds later, Murry knocks down another three. Was he listening? Let’s just keep talking crap about Rylan Murry, he’ll hit like five threes a game.
So what do we have here? A 6’7″ guy that shoot threes, not every team has that, but they exist. We’ll just stuff him in the corner, and a driving Carter or Patterson will kick it out to him for an open three. That’s worth six points a game. I was kind of thinking that’s what Murry was going to be as a freshman, just someone who was going to take 95% of his shots as threes, kind of a bigger version of Kaleb Korver. Then I’m watching Omaha play Nebraska, and Murry is about 15 feet away from the basket and recognizes he has space to the lane, and puts the ball to the court and gets a running floater over Shavon Shields (if memory serves me correctly). Wait, what did he just do? Then against Nevada, he puts the ball to the floor a few times and goes to the basket, makes some unexpected passes. Can this guy do a little bit of everything offensively? Do we really have two 6’7″ freshmen that can shoot the three and drive to the basket? More offensive moves will come (for him, Thurman, Meyer, and Newsome), more rebounding will come, and the threes will continue. He has claimed to be “cash” from three. Is that new lingo? Is “The Cashier” an appropriate nick name?
Hoping that Rylan Murry is going to be the UNO Korver, the Iowan shooter that will take us to the next level may be much, and I certainly don’t want to put that pressure on a person. I do hope he continues to work, make big time threes, and has a successful career as a UNO Maverick. Along with the Thurman, Meyer, and Newsome, he’s a smart player. None of them are the guys you see on television missing dunks, dribbling the ball out of bounds off their knee, they’ll all be playing within themselves and not trying to do too freaking much to look cool.