Murphy Back in a Familiar Role

Erik Murphy knew after his freshman season ended that his role would be changing. The lack of depth on the frontcourt caused him to play minutes at center for the Gators last year, even though he couldn't get his weight over 220 pounds. This season, his role will be a more familiar one.

Erik Murphy was known for having a lethal shot from the outside while playing in high school, but it never appeared last season. This season, freshman center Patric Young will back up Vernon Macklin, allowing Murphy to play power forward. It also means the Florida coaches will allow him to shoot more from the perimeter.

"In games I didn't do much of it (last year), but there's not really a learning curve," Murphy said. It's just been about getting my touch back, but I was in here all summer just shooting."

Murphy stayed in Gainesville over the summer not only to get used to his new role, but also to start adding weight. He put on ten pounds, now playing at 228, but he feels much stronger.

Conditioning is an issue for most freshmen, but it wasn't the top struggle for Murphy. Since he was forced to bang with some of the best big men in the country under the basket, it took a toll.

"Getting tired in games wasn't really an issue," Murphy said of his freshman season. "It was just a strength difference. I got hurt, so I couldn't lift during the season, which hurt my strength."

Murphy set out over the offseason on a diet to add as much weight as possible. He said the diet wasn't focused on any specific food group. Instead, it was about consuming as much as possible. The outcome was ten pounds of muscle and a decrease in body fat.

Even while playing power forward this season, there will be times where Murphy will need to defend in the post. The added weight should help him step inside and play defense.

"I stayed the whole summer working on my body and getting into shape," Murphy said. "We just worked on overall strength to get as strong as I could. I feel a lot stronger."

Though Murphy spent most of his freshman season away from his normal position, it still allowed him to get used to the speed of the college game. The changes on the court were tough enough, but it was the demands outside of the games that made him realize how serious college basketball is.

"It was a big learning experience," Murphy said. "Mentally, it's a whole different game from high school to college. With a year of experience under my belt, I think it's going to help me a lot."

The addition of Young and Cody Larson to the roster means more depth on the frontcourt, especially in practices.

"It's going to help us a lot," Murphy said. "The practices are real competitive."
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