Towson assistant coach Luke Murray, son of comedic actor Bill Murray, is a rising star’
Bill Murray has more critically acclaimed film roles than starring as himself alongside Michael Jordan and cartoon characters Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Lola Bunny. Still, the “Space Jam” basketball huddle scene endures.
WHO: College Charleston vs. Towson
WHERE: College of Charleston’s TD Arena
WHEN: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: Call (843) 953-2632 or go to www.cofcsports.com
Bill Murray: “Here’s how I see it: Duck, you kick it into the girl bunny down in the post. You dish it back out to the guy bunny. You swing it around to Mike over here. (Looking at Jordan) You go to the hole and dominate.”
Michael Jordan: “Bill! We’re on defense.”
Bill Murray: “Whoa! I don’t play defense. You’re going to have to listen to Mike on this one.”
Luke Murray laughed.
“It’s true, my dad doesn’t play much defense,” said Bill Murray’s 27-year-old son, an assistant basketball coach at Towson University near Baltimore. “That was a cool movie for me, as a huge Michael Jordan fan. Ironically, for a lot of the kids on our team, that’s really their only experience in watching my dad.”
Spectator turnabout comes Friday night when Towson plays at the College of Charleston in a season opener. The TD Arena crowd likely will include avid sports fan Bill Murray, a Lowcountry resident and co-owner of the minor league baseball Charleston RiverDogs.
Like father, not quite like son.
Bill Murray, 62, has ventured from Nick The Lounge Singer on “Saturday Night Live” and Carl Spackler in “Caddyshack” to “Lost in Translation” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Luke Murray’s career is methodical steps and long hours up the basketball coaching ladder.
“Luke is a rising star in the profession,” said Towson head coach Pat Skerry, who served as a College of Charleston assistant for two seasons under Tom Herrion. “Luke eats, sleeps and drinks hoops. He is an excellent recruiter but also is proficient in teaching and scouting. I rely on him heavily in all aspects of our day-to-day operation.”
Murray played basketball, football and baseball growing up in and around New York City, but leaned hard to hardwood as a high school senior when he began coaching an AAU team.
“I kind of parlayed that into getting a job in college basketball just having a lot of relationships I developed,” Murray said. “I got close to Tom Moore when he was an assistant at UConn, and when he got the head coaching job at Quinnipiac, he hired me.”
That was just two weeks after Murray graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in Sociology. After one year as Quinnipiac’s Director of Basketball Operations, Murray moved on to Post University in Connecticut.
Then it was off to Arizona to serve as a graduate assistant under Sean Miller and complete a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. Murray worked one year for Dan Hurley at Wagner College on Staten Island before landing at Towson for the 2011-2012 season.
A couple of misconceptions:
The child of a famous parent has another parent, too. Luke Murray and his older brother Homer were primarily raised by their mother, Mickey.
“She’s a great person,” Luke said. “I owe a lot about who I am to her.”
And Luke Murray has not traded on his father’s popularity.
“There has never been a moment when my dad has picked up a phone,” Luke said, “and I would never want him to. He instilled in us a desire to achieve on our own. It’s certainly been the case for me in basketball. It’s 100-hour weeks as I’ve been striving in these jobs. Certainly, nobody thinks about Bill Murray as I’m trying to put together a scouting report.”
The ‘ultimate goal’
Being Bill Murray’s son meant jet-set perks, and mixed feelings.
“As for the pluses, he’s a great dad,” Luke Murray said. “I have an older brother and four younger brothers, and I always could count on him and he’s always been there for us. Obviously, you’re exposed to some things in life other people aren’t privileged to enjoy. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and see a lot of places. As a sports fan, I’ve been able to see a lot of great games and meet a lot of my sports heroes and that sort of thing.
“The negatives are he’s really busy and he’s somebody who travels quite a bit, and it was hard to get that one-on-one time with him. That’s kind of the nature of the beast.”
Luke Murray’s favorite sports-with-dad memory: The 1996 NBA Finals, when Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a 4-2 series victory over Seattle.
Murray said he wouldn’t ignore an NBA opportunity, but his “ultimate goal” is college head coach. Skerry, in his second season at Towson, has allowed Murray a broad range of responsibilities.
It’s an uphill journey — the Tigers were 1-31 last year and 0-14 in the Colonial Athletic Association. An upgraded roster includes transfers from Georgetown (Jerrelle Benimon), South Florida (Mike Burwell) and Providence (Bilal Dixon) who did not play for Towson last year, plus five freshmen.
“I think we’re really on our way to turning this program around,” Luke Murray said.
It likely will get better, as long as Bill Murray doesn’t run the Towson defense.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff.