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Thinking Outside The Box

Mike Murphy is in his eighth season as an assistant coach with the Army lacrosse team. Under his tutelage, the Black Knights have consistently been ranked among the nation's top defenses, while he has also guided some of the most prolific goalkeepers in Academy history. A native of Beverly, Massachusetts, Murphy graduated from New Hampshire in 1996 where he was a three-year lacrosse letterman for the Wildcats.

Feb. 22, 2011

Nice return to Lex Vegas ...

Coach Alberici spent last week telling our players how the trip to play VMI reminded him of last year’s trip to play Air Force. He told them it was too eerily familiar. It was going to be a long trip – eight hours by bus and we were coming off the UMass game. Last year, it was Cornell and we were suiting up against a team that was hungry for a win with a new coach and some momentum on their side. That Air Force trip did not end well for the Black Knights and included an OT loss, a cancelled flight and a 1-4 early season record. Well, we know what happened after that.

For me the trip down to Lexington was a visit from the ghost of coaching past. For six straight summers I would travel to VMI to work the Lacrosse Academy camp. The camp was directed by my old boss Mike Caravana of Denison, then-VMI coach Doug Bartlett and Brian Corrigan, the owner of C & A Sports and yes sports fans, the brother of our new AD Boo Corrigan—I did not know that at the time!  

So as we strolled into Lex Vegas, that is one of the many names Lexington, Va. goes by, the memories started flashing by. Nights at the town bar, The Palm, sleeping in the barracks, private lessons and good ole southern hospitality.

Boy’s lacrosse camps when I started coaching were usually four grueling days of on-the-field teaching and three raucous nights of being 21 and single in a college town. And I use to do 14 camps in a summer. Camp might start in the afternoon on Sunday and last until Thursday and then I would travel home, whether that was Mass., N.C. or Ohio, it didn’t much matter. Then I would do it all over again the next week. It was a crazy way to live back then. It has not changed much. However I don’t work as many camps, I still travel a ton but I don’t stay out as late!

The most interesting trip was travelling from Duke Camp in Durham, N.C., on a Wednesday mid-afternoon to William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., for a camp that started Wednesday evening. I got to camp on time. However, I went to take a quick nap after the drive and slept through the coaching introduction and I was one of the main field directors. Plus, the camp was run by my soon-to-be new boss…great first impression Coach Murph!

Maybe the most anxious trip home from a camp came the very last time I worked Navy lacrosse camp. In August of 2001, I walked off Rip Miller Field on the Yard with no job to return to.  Earlier that summer, I had decided to walk away from my position at Wingate University. As I got in my 1999 Green Pathfinder and headed back to Raleigh, N.C., I had no idea where my next coaching job would be. Luckily, a week later my good friend Dennis Stewart would accept the Ohio State assistant job and Coach Caravana from Denison would call asking if I would like to come to Granville, Ohio — funny how life can work!
Memory Lane got longer as on game day at VMI I got to see one of my old football players from Denison. Andrew Westhouse is an Associate AD at VMI. Andrew was a great football player who played linebacker for the Big Red when I was in Granville doing my best impersonation of a football coach.  “Westy” is doing great and loving life.  It was great to see him.

Sorry I went on that tangent. Back to what you’re here to read about. Army Lacrosse…  Our heroes had a very interesting week of practice leading up to our game vs. VMI. With Monday off the boys came out flying Tuesday night. Practice was intense, had great energy and we really looked like we were moving forward. Well, then Wednesday came and we decided to, as Coach Emmer used to say, “Put the mystery into the forward pass.”  If you would have watched us practice on Wednesday you would have thought our team was playing the game for the first time EVER!  We did everything wrong—catching and throwing was an option, scoring was non-existent with the first team offense and the first team defense decided to act like Swiss cheese---full of holes!

Thursday the coaching staff decided to be “Paul, Peter, Patrick and Perry Positive.”  Practice was going to be all “hugs and kisses.” Wednesday was in the past and Thursday was a new day. To the guys’ credit, they did the same. Thursday looked more like Tuesday and all was right with the world.

Thursday was extra special for me, and the guys I think, as my nine-month old son Colin made an appearance at practice with his grandma to cheer the boys on. I heard from Grandma Sally that many of the boys came by to visit with Colin and he just loved that.

The team had a spirited walk through Friday morning before loading the bus for the Trip to Lexington. And after The Town, Miracle and Hot Tub Time Machine, we pulled into our hotel.

Saturday was a good showing as Derek Sipperly dominated the face-off X in the first half and the offense really showed what it’s capable of. A three-goal performance by Alex Van Krevel earned him the player of the game honors. Jeremy Boltus was excellent as well scoring two goals, dishing out four assists and scooping seven ground balls. Pat Brennan added three assists and Garrett Thul added two goals. Connor Hayes returned from injury and netted two goals as well. Matt Hurley, Andy Boyd and Tyler Kamide each added a goal. For Tyler that was his first collegiate goal, congrats TK.

The defense was solid.  We got some very good play from all our midfielders and we felt like all the long stick defenders did a good job on the ball.  

We got solid goaltending. Not great, but solid. Watching the film this morning, I will have a few “points” for Tom and Zach. This is all the Red Army gets this week Jeremy!!

The PPOW for last week was Devin Lynch. It was a great week for #22 as he bounced back from the UMass game and really did a good job of getting ready for VMI. His hard work during the week and game preparation really showed against the Keydets. Much of Devin’s play helped set up his teammates for goals on Saturday.

Now it’s on to Syracuse for #2. The Syracuse media and coaches are already talking about the “grudge match.” Our guys need to focus on getting better every day this week.  

The past is behind us, the future is ahead of us. Now let’s just take care of today, but always remember…

“If you want unusual results, you need unusual behavior.”

Coach Murph

Previous Entries
Oct. 14, 2010
Jan. 27, 2011
Feb. 4, 2011
Feb. 10, 2011
Feb. 14, 2011

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