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Gophers’ forward Murphy working hard in practice in preseason

Jordan Murphy poses at Minnesota Gophers media day in Minneapolis, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. Scott Takushi / St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- While Minnesota Gophers basketball teammates wore either maroon or gold practice jerseys last week, senior forward Jordan Murphy had on a gray one with a message on the back.

It read: “I practice harder than you.”

Murphy was awarded the jersey by head coach Richard Pitino. “I’m really, really big on shaming the rest of the players,” Pitino joked Sunday.

The jersey serves as a weekly prize based on a plus-minus of mostly hustle plays tallied during practice. Some of the minuses are turnovers, fouls, missed shots, not blocking out.

Murphy and guard Amir Coffey have been the primary wearers of the jersey, with guard Payton Willis mixed in once. This list is broadcast on the walls in the locker room and film room.

This fits in Pitino’s talking point about "95 percent." The premise is, you have the ball in your hand 5 percent of the time, so games are more about what a player does off the ball. It comes down to playing quality pick-and-roll defense, running the floor, fighting for rebounding positioning, communicating on defense, etc.

Meanwhile, the bottom four Minnesota players on the plus-minus ranking are punished with extra conditioning.

“I won’t tell you who the bottom four guys are, but those are pretty consistent as well,” Pitino said.

Carr waiver

The Gophers continue to wait on the NCAA to decide whether sophomore point guard Marcus Carr will receive a waiver to play immediately after transferring from Pittsburgh.

“We are confident he will get it,” Pitino said. “He should get it, but you never know with all that stuff. We should hear hopefully soon on it.”

Without Carr, 6-foot-8 Amir Coffey was the primary point guard Sunday in the Maroon and Gold scrimmage at Williams Arena. Over the summer and unto preseason camp, Coffey has spent half the time at point guard and off guard.


Gophers guard Dupree McBrayer and forward Eric Curry did not participate in Sunday’s scrimmage.

McBrayer has a family emergency and is expected back with the team by Monday. Curry was out with swelling in same knee he had reconstructive surgery on in summer 2017.

“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Pitino said of Curry. “He was good for most of practice.”


The Gophers' sole exhibition game will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, against Minnesota Duluth at Williams Arena. The season opener is 7 p.m. Nov. 6 against Nebraska Omaha at The Barn. … The U will participate in a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser and reception at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at Interlachen Country Club in Edina. … The Gophers surprised the players with tickets to the Vikings-Saints game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday night.