BY ED DAIGNEAULT
WATERBURY - It's a contextual thing. If you know Luke Murray's lineage, you can see the resemblance in his face. But if you don't, and you see the first-year Post University men's assistant basketball coach walk into the gym at the Drubner Center in a baggy T-shirt and sweatpants, well, then he's just another young basketball coach with big dreams.
That's really all he wants to be.
Murray, 23, is the son of actor Bill Murray. While he's proud of that, it's not something he trumpets. When the balls start bouncing and the recruits need recruiting, Luke Murray is just Luke Murray, Post men's assistant basketball coach.
"I've always been a basketball addict," said Murray, a graduate
of Fairfield and St. Luke's High in New Canaan. "It's been long
determined that my career would be something in this realm. My
father never pushed me in any kind of direction. He's been a
excited about the prospect of my career."
Bill Murray likely didn't have any choice. His son has been pursuing this line of work for a long time. He began coaching AAU teams in high school, making crucial contacts as a coach for the New York Gauchos. He coached the New England Playaz, a highly regarded AAU program in Springfield, Mass.
He went to UConn his freshman year with the sole purpose of
hoping to get in to basketball coaching. There he built a
relationship with UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur that
continues. Last year, he worked for Tom Moore as the Quinnipiac
director of basketball
operations. Every step Murray has taken has been on the coaching path. There is
no other alternative.
"He's got a real passion for the game," Moore said. "That's uncommon for kids his age. He's got a really good work ethic. He just really likes to be around recruiting and around the game.
"I like his focus. A lot of young guys his age have their minds on too many other things besides their careers. He's got a great amount of focus for someone his age."
That's largely how Murray wound up at Division II Post. He had other Division I offers after last season, but they were all in either basketball operations or video operations. None of those positions would allow him the opportunity to get on the road to evaluate and recruit players. So he took a chance with Post, where a friend of his, Marcus Brown, played a few years ago. It worked out for Eagles coach Mike Donnelly, who secured not only an assistant coach with drive but one who could bring a special player to his program.
Post freshman Brandon Romain, who has mid-level Divison I talent, became acquainted with Murray while playing for a New York AAU program. When Romain didn't meet academic requirements for Division I, Murray brought him to Post. Romain leads the team in scoring and has helped Post to what could be a memorable season.
"Luke has a lot of contacts and he knows players," Donnelly said. "He's a tireless worker and he's so passionate about basketball. He's really got a great future in the game."
Murray admitted to having some qualms about taking a Division II
job, especially at a school that is new to Division II and plays in
a gym that is smaller than many high school gyms in the area. But
he has been more involved in every aspect of coaching than he would
have been at a low-level Division I job. A couple of weeks ago, he
was at a Rhode Island tournament sitting with Moore and UConn coach
Jim Calhoun. He was evaluating players and soaking up knowledge
from the likes of Calhoun. He isn't living the glamorous life he
grew up knowing, a
life where running into celebrities was an everyday occurrence. He's living the basketball life he has wanted for years.
"Having my dad be in the limelight, I'm a little more comfortable being around guys who are celebrities," Murray said. "Still, my life is basketball. So somebody like coach Calhoun is more important to me than some movie star. I'm still struck by guys like coach Calhoun and I look up to them. They're what I want to be.
"I feel like I'm pretty close to really getting in the door. But right now I'm focused with where I'm at and helping this team get to the NCAA tournament."
Spoken like a basketball coach who just happens to be the son of a famous actor.