WBB: Hard Work Paying Off for Murray

Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell remembers the first time Taylor Murray worked out as a Wildcat. In fact, it’s a memory that won’t go away.

“I remember back in June at the first workout and I am sure that she was nervous and not ready mentally to go, but it was a tough day and she was barely hitting the goal in some of our shooting drills and I was thinking, ‘Man, we have a lot of work to do here,’” Mitchell said of his freshman point guard. “But that dissipated quickly because in the first month you could see she was committed to hard work and is a high-character person and has a strong work ethic and very comfortable.” 

Murray’s improvement continued on Sunday when she scored a career-high 14 points in a win over Auburn, including a clutch 3-pointer late in the game that basically put the game out of reach.

Murray, who was a McDonald’s All-American at Annapolis (Md.) Christian School, is now averaging 8.3 points per game, but scoring is not necessarily the strength in her game. Murray is known for her speed with the ball and for her ability to create steals on defense. In fact, Murray leads the Wildcats with 33 steals on the season, which is 25 percent of the team’s total.

So, is Murray constantly waiting to pounce on an opponent’s errant pass?

“It’s just playing the game,” she says of her propensity for stealing the ball. “If I see it, I’m going to attack it. If I see I can get a steal, I’m going to go for it. If I don’t think I can, I’m going to lay off.”

For many players, having a “nose for the ball” is one of those natural instincts that can make a player better. Murray admits to having some of those instincts, but she also works on her defensive game.

“When you’re trying to steal the ball, it’s about timing and knowing your place and knowing where you need to go at that time,” she said. “You don’t want to be cheating and then you don’t get it.”

As the Wildcats head to Ole Miss for a Thursday night contest (9 p.m. ET, SEC Network), Murray and her team will face yet another opponent that plays tight defense, putting pressure on their opponents’ point guards. What can Murray do to become more effective at the point?

“I’m working on being more vocal,” she said. “There are times when I don’t talk as loud as I’m supposed to so my teammates can hear me. That’s an area I feel like I need to improve on.”

For the soft-spoken Murray, improving that part of her game has been somewhat of a challenge.

“As I’m playing basketball, being vocal is something that I’m not used to,” she said. “I just have this swan little voice and I’m just trying to get better at it. (Coach Mitchell) is helping me with it. He knows that I can talk much louder to my teammates.”

Murray has shown an ability to improve during her time in Lexington, and becoming more vocal is just the next step in her development as the Wildcats’ point guard of the future.