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The ICON Series Part III: Murphysboro's Daryl Murphy

  • Murphysboro head coach Daryl Murphy is one of four coaches in southern Illinois to have at least 20-plus years on the sideline at the same school. Murphy has been the Red Devils' head coach for 23 years and has 11 Southern Illinois River-To-River Ohio Conference Championships.

    Murphysboro head coach Daryl Murphy is one of four coaches in southern Illinois to have at least 20-plus years on the sideline at the same school. Murphy has been the Red Devils' head coach for 23 years and has 11 Southern Illinois River-To-River Ohio Conference Championships.

By Spyder Dann
updated: 1/31/2019 5:04 PM

This is the third part of a four-part series that will highlight the accomplishments of four southern Illinois basketball coaches. Each part will run Wednesday's in The Harrisbug Register

Husband. Father. Teacher. Coach.
Coaches wear a lot of hats. In this situation, especially high school basketball coaches.
Sometimes it even exceeds the number of players on the team.
The mark of a great coach is finding the balance between being compassionate and being demanding.
Not lost in the equation is motivating, inspiring and pushing a kid past what's considered good enough, to greatness.
For some players, a coach is the father they didn't have or the father-figure they need.
Four coaches in southern Illinois have established themselves as icons in this sport, racking up wins, along with postseason hardware and not losing sight of why they do what they do.
Guys like Massac County's Joe Hosman, Harrisburg's Randy Smithpeters, Carbondale's Jim Miller and Murphysboro's Daryl Murphy have established a legacy that is unparalleled in this day in age.
They are legends. Not only on the sidelines, but at their school.
Each coach has coached at their respective schools for more than 20 years and all have made at least one appearance in the state tournament.
In this four-part series, each coach partakes in a Question & Answer session that looks back on his career, his reasoning for coaching, the best player he coached against and what he has in common with the other coaches.

Daryl Murphy is entering his 23rd season at Murphysboro. The Red Devils head coach has more than 400 wins and 12 20-win seasons.
Murphy was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017. The Raymond (Lincolnwood) High School graduate led the Red Devils to a second place finish at the IHSA Class 2A state championship in the 2010-11 season. That season was one for the record books as Murphysboro went 35-1.

Question: Did coaching basketball choose you or did you choose to coach basketball?
Daryl Murphy: I chose to coach basketball. That's what I wanted to do graduating high school and that's what I went into right from the get-go into college and everything else.

Q: What similarities or traits do you think you share with the other coaches?
DM: The passion to win without a question. Joe, Randy, and I have had some good battles and five minutes after the game - we're good friends again. I think it's a real good mutual respect among all four of us. Just the passion to win and the knowledge of the game.

Q: What made you want to get into coaching and is the reason now the same as it was then?
DM: Well it's changed a little bit. You love Friday nights, you love being in a basketball gym, you love being with your coaches. One thing I have unique here is I've had Coach (Ben) Doggan for 23 years and I've had Coach (Matt) Decker for 20 years. We've been together a long time, my coaching staff alone. Anymore, I think it's probably changed a little bit. The passion to win, win, win… I don't know if I'm that same way anymore. I really thoroughly enjoy being with the kids and practicing. It just kind of keeps you young and it's fun to be around them.

Q: How has basketball changed during your time coaching?
DM: Well obviously, I've always coached with the 3-point shot of course. I think the game is being called a lot tighter. Physical play has gone away. I think the 3-point shot and kids really developing the 3-point shots changed the game a lot in that phase. I think that's the biggest change and stopping the overly aggressive play.

Q: What do you think is the reason you have stayed at your respective schools as long as you have?
DM: I think everyone knows I'm fair to every kid no matter who it is. We've had great success here without a question and I've been around the community for a long time and I've done a lot in the community. Everybody knows me. I think good character and that type of thing has just been a good situation.

Q: Did you ever consider leaving?
DM: We thought we were going to be here about 4-5 years and go back home to Springfield, IL. We even thought about it one other time when I had some phone calls from people wanting me to come up and interview and stuff like that. Our son, Daryl the second, he just kept going and going and everything was so positive for him here - athletically and academically. Then of course we couldn't leave when he got into high school because I didn't want to do that to him. A few occasions, yes, we have considered leaving and that was only to go back home.

Q: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever gotten?
DM: Surround yourself with very smart people. Coach (Rick) Samuels over at Eastern Illinois University, who went to the NCAA Tournament for several years, told me to surround yourself with the smartest people you can, and I've done that.

Q: Who is your coaching idol?
DM: I was always a pretty big Rick Pitino guy until lately. But slick Rick was pretty good. The way he carried himself, his knowledge of the game, the way his kids played for him. Then of course, one huge one, is Bob Huggins. We're still friends to this day. I just love Bob Huggins. Unbelievable guy.

Q: What is your best memory as a head coach?
DM: Best memory as a head coach would be the win over at West Frankfort and going to the State Tournament in Peoria, without a question. The 2010-2011 season.

Q: Who is the best player you have coached against?
DM: Probably Justin Dentmon (Carbondale HS). He was quick on quick, had unbelievable handles, had a high passion to win, a motor that wouldn't stop, and could beat you in numerous ways.

Q: What was the best team you have coached against?
DM: It might have been one of those Carbondale teams that beat us. We only lost three games that entire season. You had about nine kids that went onto play college basketball when we played them. We lost by 1,3, and 7. That was probably one of my top 3 teams ever. They were awful good. The Mt. Vernon teams back in the early 2000's with Kent Williams and Scott Gamber. They were very very good. One of my first few years here, Nashville when they had five coaches' sons on the floor. They could shoot it. They were undefeated and got beat in the regionals. Harrisburg's team had to be one of the best we've played and probably one of them Massac teams when we go back in time and being one of our tougher games. There are a handful that go into that. The Carbondale team when it got second in State when it was only two classes... they were a handful.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.

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