Notebook: Injury a challenge for Washington High grad Murphy

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Sitting on the sidelines isn’t where Tiara Murphy planned on spending the bulk of the Purdue women’s basketball season.

Strange how plans work out sometimes.

A bit player in her first year with the Boilermakers, the 5-foot-7 Washington High grad was poised to be a regular contributor this season. Instead, she’ll be parked on the Purdue bench Friday cheering her teammates in their 5 p.m. NCAA Tournament game against Green Bay at Purcell Pavilion.

Nine games into this season, in a home game against Colgate, Murphy went for a layup and heard a pop in her right knee.

Pop went the rest of her season. ACL injury. Surgery. A week of bed rest. Recuperation. Rehab. Patience.

“God does things for a reason for his toughest warriors,” Murphy said Thursday. “I’m strong. I’m his toughest warrior. He wanted me to sit back and learn the game. He wanted me to mature as a young woman.

“I tell the team, I’m their biggest fan. I’m that person they listen to.”

This isn’t the same tiny, fragile Tiara Murphy who had a great deal of success at Washington as a distributor and a shooter. This version of the point guard has discovered the weight room and it shows with a much more sturdy body.

“Physicality is way different (in college),” Murphy said. “When I was younger, I didn’t use weights. I ate a lot, but I didn’t put on weight.”

With Murphy unavailable, the burden of point guard has fallen completely on the shoulders of senior Ashley Morrissette. Had Murphy been healthy, the position may have been a timeshare.

The injury happened early enough in the season that Murphy should be eligible for a medical redshirt year.

“Coming back home is a great feeling, even though I can’t play,” Murphy said. “I have a lot of family coming. I had to ask for a lot of extra tickets.”

“Whenever you tear an ACL, it’s the most traumatic injury for an athlete,” said Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp. “Some people can really be down, depressed and struggle with it. Others can be receptive and handle it maturely. She handled it that way.

“Knowing the journey ahead, she can make herself even better. She was starting to play really well for us. She’s more of a coach now, which I’m going to need when she steps onto the court.”

Bri's back

Remember a couple years ago when Jewell Loyd stunned everyone at Notre Dame – including coach Muffet McGraw – by announcing she had decided to pass up her senior year at Notre Dame in favor of playing in the WNBA?

Well, could that be the same case with current senior post Brianna Turner?

Nope, not even an issue — which allows McGraw to breathe a sigh of relief.

The 6-foot-3 junior post said Thursday she has no intentions of passing up any time at Notre Dame. Even if she would have harbored some thoughts, Turner said she wouldn’t have met the league’s minimum age limit (22).

McGraw just smiled.

Purdue’s Tiara Murphy (3) watches from the sidelines during a practice at Purcell Pavilion on Thursday in advance of the first round of the NCAA Division 1 Women's Basketball Tournament hosted by Notre Dame. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)