Murphy Provides Motivation, Determination To The Cardinal
Redshirt senior has bounced back from injuries and setbacks to be a key contributor
March 31, 2011
By: Michelle Smith, GoStanford.com
Before the game, you'll find Melanie Murphy in the middle of the Stanford huddle.
Or maybe you won't find her so much, if she is standing among all the big tall bodies on the Cardinal women's basketball team. But you'll probably hear her.
Murphy is the author of many fire-and-brimstone speeches that get the Cardinal ready to play. She is a regular quote-of-the-day contributor, offering her teammates wisdom and perspective.
She would seem to be the right person for the job.
Murphy is the oldest player on the Stanford roster, a fifth-year senior whose career has been marred by numerous injuries.
She's had four surgeries since she came to Stanford from Brooklyn, New York as a play-making point guard. But she's never let those injuries dampen her spirit, and she's been an emotional center of the Cardinal team - not to mention a crowd favorite through her entire career.
Now with Stanford heading to their fourth straight Final Four appearance in Indianapolis, the sun is setting on a college career that Murphy worked extremely hard to complete.
"Every year is a little weird for me, there's always been something unexpected," Murphy said. "But it's always fun and it's always a good ride."
It would be better than good, it would be great, if Murphy could finish her Stanford odyssey with a national championship, because her injury history has robbed her of games, minutes and the opportunity to do everything she wanted from a basketball perspective.
"I have been through a lot, but I love the people I play with," Murphy said. "It's always a good time."
And that's why she wanted to return for one more season at Stanford.
Following last year's loss in the national title game, Murphy had microfracture surgery - a procedure to repair damaged knee cartilage - in an attempt to make her right her knee well enough to give her one more season. It turned out to be only part of one more season.
Murphy stayed out of the lineup until Jan. 19, when she made her season debut against UCLA after a long eight months of rehabilitation.
On Senior Day, Murphy was honored for the second year in a row, adopted as an honorary member of this year's senior class.
Murphy's time on the floor has again been limited this season - she's appeared in 16 games and averaged 1.3 points.
But Murphy's worth to the Cardinal has never been measured in her minutes.
"I'm so happy that she was able to stay another year," said senior guard Jeanette Pohlen. "People don't realize the things some of our other players do off the court, what they bring off the court, even to the bench. People like Mel keep us up and lifted."
Murphy's history is one with a litany of roadblocks.
Mel started six games as a freshman in the 2006-07 season. She played only five games in her sophomore season after sustaining an ACL injury.
She missed 11 games last season with a variety of injuries.
But she's always attacked her rehabilitations with a positive attitude and she's stayed close to her teammates.
Murphy is already getting ready for her next career. She currently serves as an unpaid manager to former Cardinal star Candice Wiggins and she wants to add more high-profile athletes to her list of clients when she graduates.
She also might have a career in music. She wrote the lyrics for the team's "I Got Bounce" video and rapped the song, which has collected 11,000 view hits on YouTube and was played in a local nightclub while the Cardinal were in Spokane playing in the regional. She has her own YouTube channel called "Melevision."
VanDerveer sees Murphy as a basketball coach.
"She likes to analyze the game, and she's always giving kids on the team some tips on things that she's seeing.," VanDerveer said. "We talk basketball. She likes basketball. She likes to play and she likes to practice. It's just been hard because she's not been 100 percent. When she's healthy, she's competitive. She really helps us."