Shay Murphy: Finding A Home

By Justin Whitaker | August 9, 2009
From playing for three teams last year, to getting traded, to getting cut, three-year guard Shay Murphy has found a home with the Indiana Fever.

Murphy entered the WNBA in 2007, when the Minnesota Lynx took Murphy in the second round with the 15th pick overall.

She saw consistent playing time immediately. In her rookie season, she played all 32 games for the Minnesota Lynx, averaging 5.2 points per game and 3.3 rebounds.

Murphy’s second year is when her career turned uncertain. She was traded from the Lynx to the Detroit Shock, and then from the Shock to the Washington Mystics.

“That second year was really tough, especially for me emotionally,” said Murphy. “I doubted myself, my abilities, my skills. When you get bounced around from team to team, you wonder if you are capable, if you are good enough, am I supposed to be here?”

The 2009 WNBA season started off in the nation’s capital for Murphy, trying to make a young Mystics team with a roster filled with guards.

After a strong training camp with the Mystics, Murphy was feeling confident about her status with the team. That is until a surprise phone call ended her time in Washington.

“I actually had a really great training camp, one of the best,” said Murphy. “With the roster change to 11 players, I knew it was going to be difficult. So every day, I continued to stay positive, I came back from a great season overseas and I just let that confidence carry over. I actually left the training camp happy, I was like ‘dude, there is nothing else I could do!’”

She quipped, “If I had done a 360 dunk I wasn’t going to make the team.”

But Murphy was not without a team for long when the Fever called.

“About seven-eight days later got a phone call from the Fever and I was like ‘Praise God, thank you Jesus!.’” said Murphy. “I kept that confidence and I came here and this is the best team I’ve ever been on in my life. I love the girls, everyone is amazing.”

With a team returning all five starters and playing behind two All-Star and MVP candidates in Katie Douglas and Tamika Catchings, playing time is not always the easiest to find.

In her finest efforts of the season though, Murphy has played her best ball against the Chicago Sky.

She led the Fever with 15 points on July 10, in an 83-54 blowout win at Chicago. To go along with her team high in points, she also grabbed six rebounds and shot 53 percent from the field.

The 76-67 victory on August 5, at home against the Sky, showcased some of Murphy’s strengths.

She scored 13 points and had seven rebounds in 23 minutes, playing for Tamika Catchings who received three quick fouls in the first half. Coach Lin Dunn went with Murphy instead of Katie Douglas in the fourth quarter because she was playing so well.

Catchings and Douglas, too, are the players she looks to as models for improving her overall game.

“I can shoot the ball, and I’m still working on the that every day,” said Murphy. “But my goal is to be as what Katie Douglas is, eventually, when it’s automatic.”

She looks to Catchings’ game as a model for her defense and hustle.

“I bring a lot of things, like athleticism, most importantly my passionate energy. That’s following Catch’s footsteps,” said Murphy.“ She plays both ends of the court super hard and that’s what I want to do. A coach will never have to coach my effort.”

Besides Douglas and Catchings, power forward Ebony Hoffman is another Fever player who has had an impact on Murphy’s basketball career. Hoffman and Murphy were teammates at the University of Southern California and are both from the Los Angeles area.

Once arriving with the Fever, Murphy was excited about playing with her former teammate once again.

“I came in as a freshman and Eb was already a senior,” said Murphy laughing. “The Big Dog on campus, she knew everyone, knew the system and just had her own swag.”

In their one year together, the “Big Dog” made sure to watch over her young pup.

“She took care of me, she kind of put me under her wing,” said Murphy smiling. “When maybe the other seniors or the coaches were getting on me she was like ‘Hey stop yelling at her!’ I was like ‘thanks, man’ and gave her a hug.”

After Hoffman was drafted by the Fever, Murphy made it her goal to be the next Lady Trojan drafted. She did just that too, along with an impressive streak of scoring in double-figures in 47 straight games.

Before leaving school, she became the school’s all-time leader in 3-pointers with 181. Her favorite memory from USC involves a specific shot from among those 181 threes.

“We were playing Oregon at home in our new facility and it went into double overtime,” said Murphy. “They had a girl on their team about 6’5” or 6’6” and I was about two feet behind the [distance of an] NBA three. She went under a screen and, seriously, I think the ball touched the top of the gym and it went in – nothing but net! We went into double overtime, came back and wound up winning. It was such a great shot and it was cool because it was in front of my home crowd, and I was amped up. I might have popped my jersey and blew a kiss to the crowd!”

After a college career filled with accolades, Murphy has some goals to accomplish at the professional level. “I want to find a home, bouncing around I’ve learned a lot, gotten stronger,” said Murphy. “But I definitely want to be on a team for a while. I take it one day at time, I really would like to continue to play behind Katie and Catch and learn under them, they are amazing.”