Pride of the Pride

Dec. 28, 2006

By Jeff Lippman


Jeff Lippman

Jeff is's lead women's basketball writer.
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Those who complain there just aren't enough hours in the day, take notice.


If Lizanne Murphy's collegiate career were judged solely by basketball standards, she would be a smashing success.


Only 38 points shy of 1,000 for her career and currently fourth on Hofstra's all-time scoring and rebounding lists, that would be enough for most players to garner a glowing article of praise.


But this is not an article about most players; this is an article about one incredible--and extremely selfless--college student.


Growing up in Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada, Murphy was taught at an early age that academics were extremely important. Her parents--father works at a university in Montreal and mother was a teacher--stressed learning and knowledge be taken very seriously, she said.


"Education is a huge thing in my family," Murphy, the proud owner of a 3.6 grade point average, said. "I've been brought up to take school seriously and striving for academic goals as well as athletic goals is kind of who I am."


Although the honor roll was always a given growing up, Murphy still found time for sports--a lot of sports--and that led to her love for basketball.


"I have been playing basketball since I was very young," she said. "I was one of those kids who was on every single sports team in high school. I just love the competing. I think I was just drawn to basketball, I like that it's fast-paced and up and down. Once I started playing, I realized I was pretty good."


Pretty good, for the senior forward, amounts to 962 career points, 783 career rebounds, 93 consecutive games played and 74 straight starts. Yeah, that's pretty good.


"She is something special and this isn't just lip service," said Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey. "She does all the little things that make your team click.


"I told her she was the unsung hero of the team. She does everything, she communicates, she tells everybody where to go in the zone. She does all the things that will be greatly missed in the future. She is one of those hardcore, hard-nosed players that play for the love of the game. She needs to get patted on the back."


Modesty is a character trait that flows freely from Murphy--she answers every question immediately with "we" instead of "I." In fact, she says she had no idea she was even close to scoring 1,000 points on her career and was shocked when alerted of the plateau.


"I don't really score that much," she said.


When asked to talk about her records, she diverts the conversation to her team: "When we came to Hofstra, we knew that they weren't an established program, so we [teammates] all wanted to make a name for this program. A lot of our dreams are coming to fruition now in our senior year. The best start in program history, we beat a ranked team, we are doing a lot of stuff that is really cool and it feels good. It gives you the feeling that hard work pays off in the end. Well, we are hoping that at the end of the season it all pays off."


It takes incredible hard work and dedication to play college basketball at the level Murphy has maintained over her four years at Hofstra. Most student athletes are completely absorbed with practice and conditioning and have trouble finding the time to study as much as necessary.


Once again, Murphy is not an average student-athlete.


Aside from basketball and her 3.6 GPA, the biology major with a triple minor in chemistry, French and psychology--yes, that's not a mistake, she is a triple minor--also tutors other Hofstra students in math, biology and chemistry.


"When you tutor you don't really do that much, you can't take any credit," she said, like anyone thought she would take credit. "You show them an easier way to solve something and they end up figuring it out for themselves. You spend a lot of time learning and helping and when you help someone get it, it's a good feeling."


Teammate and senior Lana Harshaw, a close friend of Murphy's, has been the recipient of some tutoring for her introductory biology class.


"She's just a good person in general," Harshaw said of Murphy. "Anytime she can help someone out, she'll be the first person to jump in and help, not just for basketball but for stuff off the court as well. And she's pretty good at the school stuff."


In addition to all the other engagements listed above--yes, there is more--Murphy also finds the time to visit elementary school students every month at Covert Academy Elementary School, where she has become their "adopted" player. 


"I would go to their school once a month and in between classes I would do stuff with them in the cafeteria and did whatever the principle wanted," Murphy said of her experience at Covert Academy. "It was really cool because the kids got to come to games and it was like that was my school."


Finding the time to complete all her numerous endeavors has never really been a problem for Murphy, she says. As a freshman she found it difficult but soon learned how to appropriately prioritize and hasn't had trouble since. Of course, she is always busy, says her teammates and coach.


"I am a pretty focused person, that is how I was raised," Murphy explains. "A lot of times people say I am a bit crazy because I am always going and I put everything into what I'm doing. That is definitely the way I am. But I never realized how much free time you have until you schedule yourself in a whole bunch of things.


"At first I never thought I would have time to do something like tutor, but it ended up that it's not that much. You do a couple hours a week and it really helps people. I am tutoring this girl right now and when she did well on a test it made me feel good to help a little bit."


Murphy is perpetually helping people. Even when she is off from school, at home in Canada, she spends time assisting her high school basketball coach with his basketball and life program that helps learning-disabled students attend school in the mornings and learn about the game of basketball in the afternoons.


She will graduate from Hofstra in May, with honors of course, but the future is still uncertain for the scrappy 6-foot-1 shooting guard.


"I am waiting to see how I feel at the end of the season because I don't know if basketball is something I can go away from so easily," she says. "I love the game, I don't know if I want to try and keep playing or try and get involved in coaching. I am kind of split right down the middle."


If Muprhy does choose to live the next few years of her life pursuing a basketball career, she will be successful, she always is.


Her height puts her at an advantage over other smaller guards. Coach Steveskey believes there will be a roster spot waiting for her--either in the WNBA or overseas--when she graduates.


Life after basketball won't get any less complicated or busy for Murphy. It is her ambition to become a doctor for the United Nation's World Health Organization, a goal she made for herself after she took a class about the UN.


"I've always been into the sciences, even since I was young," she said. "We learned about infectious disease and how through medicine, the way to end disease is so simple in the western world. How we can make such differences in the other parts of the world just by a bit of education and a bit of time and money. I am really interested in that."


Imagine that, her life's goal is to help those who can't help themselves. Murphy isn't an ordinary basketball player, she isn't an ordinary student, she isn't an ordinary person at all.


Her coach hit the nail on the head when she said, "Lizanne is a fantastic lady to coach and to know."


Murphy touches the lives of every single person she meets, a five-minute telephone conversation is enough to make anyone want to become a better person, to do more and help people as much as possible.


Lizanne Murphy truly is extraordinary.



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