In his first season at Friends last year, basketball player Jordan Murdock put up some respectable numbers. This year, Murdock is on a much higher plane.
He is leading NAIA Division II with 29.8 points and has nearly doubled his rebounding average to 10.8 a game, fifth nationally. As a sophomore he averaged 22.8 points and six rebounds.
What makes it sweeter is that he’s accomplishing all this at the same school where his late grandfather, Mitch, starred in the late 1960s.
Jordan, Southeast graduate, said that growing up, Mitch told him about his playing career at Friends.
“I remember him telling how the organization was here, how he played, all the memories he had of his teammates,” Murdock said.
Friends coach Dale Faber can relate a little more personally.
“I used to sneak into (Friends) games to watch his grandfather play,” Faber said. “You have to have your head in the sand if you didn’t know the Murdock name with basketball in Wichita.”
That would include Jordan’s father, former South High standouts Johnny, who was a four-year starter at Missouri State, and Jordan’s uncle Jeff.
Even though his stats have improved rapidly, Murdock is one of those “overnight successes” who was more than four years in the making.
A number of players enter colleges with a variety of weighty issues, but Murdock’s was literally that, forcing him to redshirt his freshman season at Hutchinson Community College.
“I messed up my back, and I gained a lot of weight,” he said. After a redshirt season, “I did everything in a back brace. The only thing I didn’t do in a back brace is take a shower.”
But his weight concerns are in the past.
He now carries a well-toned 240 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame. He is averaging 36 minutes a game and played all 40 minutes in a 91-89 loss Wednesday at McPherson.
“I just made it an emphasis to get out there and play harder,” he said. “I wanted to play better than my performance last year, because I’m losing more weight. I’m more agile, and I could run and do a lot of things better than I did last year. I just wanted to showcase that.”
Murdock has led the Falcons to a 13-11 record and 11-6 in the KCAC, in a four-way tie for second behind Southwestern. The Falcons had won five of their last six heading into Wednesday’s game at McPherson and will face York, one of the teams tied for second with them, on Saturday at the Garvey Center. The McPherson loss, in which Friends nearly erased a 10-point halftime deficit, came despite Murdock’s 45 points and 13 rebounds.
Last Saturday, Murdock had 25 points and 19 rebounds (a career high), six assists and no turnovers in a 76-64 victory at Tabor.
“It’s hard to do a better job than what he did,” Faber said.
Faber, in his 15th season at the school, said most of the credit goes to Murdock’s work ethic.
“For him to transform himself and making basketball fun again, the credit goes to him,” he said.
Murdock said he has needed to be more of an inside force for the Falcons this season, so he has put more emphasis there.
But Faber is quick to add that Murdock is also lethal from the perimeter.
“He’ll take whatever the defense gives him,” Faber said.
Faber said Murdock’s output has served to inspire teammates to step up as well.
“With the production of Jordan and how consistent he’s been, I think it breeds a confidence with our basketball team that we’re going to have that consistent effort from him every night, and others are picking up,” he said.
“I don’t know of anyone in the country who’s doing a better job of scoring the basketball or rebounding the basketball.”