Florida Gators center Erik Murphy shot 42.1 percent from 3-point range last season, while averaging 10.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Entering the 2012-13 season, Murphy has worked on his low-post game to improve his defensive play.
In the NCAA Tournament, Murphy's defense helped hold Big East player of the year Jae Crowder to 15 points on 5 of 15 shooting in the Gators' 68-58 win in the Sweet 16 over the Marquette Golden Eagles. Over the offseason, Murphy has bulked up to 238 pounds, up from 218 as a freshman. Gators head coach Billy Donovan believes for Murphy to take the next step as a player, he has to get better down low:
"He cannot just be, for us, that guy that steps away from the basket and shoots it," Donovan said. "I think he's proven himself to be able to do that pretty consistently. I think the next step for him is can he become a scorer from the perimeter and from the mid-post area or from the low post.
Despite the focus on the low-post game this offseason, Murphy insists that it will not affect his shooting touch:
"I always feel I shoot the ball decently well," Murphy said. "I don't really pay attention to how many shots I take and how many shots I make, in practice especially. We're just trying to prepare ourselves for games."
Murphy will get his first chance to show how much he's improved as a post player in Friday's season opener in the Navy-Marine Corps Classic against the Georgetown Hoyas. The game is set to tip off at 9 p.m. EST off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., and the game will be aired live on the NBC Sports Network.