Former Syracuse assistant coach Rob Murphy made his homecoming to Syracuse with his new team, Eastern Michigan, on Tuesday.
Murphy spent seven years as an assistant under SU coach Jim Boeheim before accepting the head coaching job with the Eagles in the offseason. The Orange went on to win 84-48, but Murphy’s team held their own in the first half.
The Eagles led 21-18 with 8:01 left in the first half using a familiar weapon—the 2-3 zone.
“It is pretty much like our zone,” Syracuse forward Kris Joseph said. “I don’t think they actually do it exactly like us, but it was pretty much like our zone.”
Said Boeheim: “He’s got a good system. I don’t know where he got that system from, but it’s a good system and I think he’ll do well with it.”
Eastern Michigan also started 9-for-14 from the field before the Orange used a 20-3 run to put the game out of reach.
“They played great tonight,” Boeheim said. “We just obviously have some more personnel.”
Murphy’s has found some success early on in his head coaching career. The Eagles came into the game 4-2, one season after they finished 9-22 overall.
“He’s done a great job,” Boeheim said. “This team won nine games last year and they lost their two best players. He’s done a tremendous job so far.”
Prior to the game, Joseph, along with several other players, enjoyed a warm embrace with their former coach.
“I was happy to see Coach (Murphy),” Joseph said. “That is my guy since high school. It was exciting to play him.”
Murphy also met Boeheim at midcourt, and both hugged before a teary-eyed Murphy walked away.
“He did a great job, he’s a great coach and he’s a great guy,” Boeheim said. “I really love the guy. He was unbelievable for us with what he brought to the table for us over the years, as a coach and as a recruiter.”
Corey Mallonee contributed to this article with reporting from Syracuse.