Joe Murphy was formally introduced as the Shenendehowa head girls’ varsity basketball coach Wednesday, ending a busy eight months that saw the Capital Region’s largest school district have to replace three long-time head varsity coaches.
Murphy, a business teacher who was 68-3 as the program’s freshman coach the last four years, takes over for Ken Strube, who retired following the 2011-12 season as the state’s winningest basketball coach. Murphy’s hiring was unanimously approved at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.
Strube, football coach Brent Steuerwald and boys’ soccer coach Mike Campisi — all among the best in the state — chose this school year to step down.
“This was a great opportunity,” said Murphy. “This was my goal, obviously. I knew no matter what happened, I wanted to work in the program. Even if it didn’t work out the way it did, there was no question I was going to coach somewhere in the program.”
Part of Strube’s staff since beginning as a volunteer assistant in 2004, Murphy was a key component in the Lady Plainsmen’s preparation.
“Joe’s strengths lie in his ability to relate to the girls he’s coaching,” said Shenendehowa athletic director Chris Culnan. ”He’s been Ken Strube’s top scout for the last eight years. Nobody knows the Suburban Council girls’ basketball like Joe Murphy.”
“I try to find what the strengths are in the players and adapt my system to fit their strengths,” said Murphy. “Working here, doing the camps, I know every kid from fifth grade all the way up to the senior class. It will be a big help to know the program.”
“He always did a great job of helping us prepare,” said senior Emily Weber, who was the SC’s Most Valuable Player in her final two varsity seasons. “He was a big reason our defense was so good. He did such a good job scouting and breaking down the other teams that we recognized what they were doing on offense.”
Murphy knows he is taking over for a coach who was a huge part of girls’ basketball in the area for the past 33 years.
“You can’t replace what Ken did with the program, not only at Shen, but throughout the Capital District and the state,” said Murphy. “He’s been a great mentor for me.”
“If I could have handpicked my successor, it would have been Joe Murphy,” said Strube, a New York State Basketball Hall of Famer who coached four state and 10 Section II championship teams. “He’s going to be his own person. Joe is very serious about his basketball, and I know the girls love playing for him. He relates superbly to the girls.”
“He’s a familiar face. We won’t have to get used to someone completely new,” said junior Alyssia Marsal. “Even the girls who didn’t play for him as freshmen know him from him being around the varsity practices and his scouting reports.”
“Joe’s got big shoes to fill, but we feel we found a great candidate in Joe,” said Culnan, who replaced all three retiring coaches from within the system. “We have a tremendous wealth of talent in our coaching staff. I’m every pleased not only with the varsity coaches we have, but with all the coaches we have at all levels.
“We’ve got some talented people, like Joe, Brian [Clawson, who is replacing Steuerwald] and Jon [Bain, Campisi’s successor]. We feel very confident in offering our internal candidates the opportunity to be successful.”