The greats all have it. From Sheryl Swoopes to Chamique Holdsclaw, to Lisa Leslie. They all possess a unique quality beyond their supreme athletic prowess that makes them special players. I am referring to leadership.
At Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, Lizanne Murphy is a fan favorite and as well as a person who epitomizes what leadership is all about. Murphy has shown true grit and pure determination during her entire 2004-05 sophomore season averaging 11.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per game as a guard/forward.
“I knew that she would be good, that she would be an excellent student but I didn’t know her passion was at the same kind of level as mine,” explains Felisha Legette-Jack, third-year head coach of the Hofstra Pride. “She is arguably one of the best players I have recruited.”
For a year and a half, Murphy has had the enviable title as captain of the Pride. So when it comes to pressure situations, this natural born leader is all game and no-nonsense with a personality that resonates control and influence. “I have a talkative personality and feel much more comfortable talking to my teammates both offensively and defensively,” says the 21-year-old Murphy. “But when it comes down to it, I try to lead by example so that my teammates can rely and depend on me.”
Growing up in Beaconsfield, Québec, the 6-1 biology major never picked up the game of basketball until the very end of high school after mostly being involved in soccer and gymnastics. Regardless, it did not take Murphy long before she excelled at running the court and draining the rock.
Before heading south of the border to play at Hofstra University, Murphy spent two years honing her skills at Dawson College in Montreal. Not only was she Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) All-Canadian both years, Murphy led the Québec conference in scoring, rebounding and free throw percentage.
During her stint at Dawson, Murphy elevated her status and became well known among basketball circles as an impact player. “Before she arrived, for 15-20 years the basketball program was terrible,” explains Trevor Williams, Murphy’s head coach at Dawson. “We were averaging about 3 to 5 wins a year. Her first year, not only were we in double figures in the W column but we also won the provincial title. We were the best team in the province. And she was a major factor in achieving that feat.”
Despite the Hofstra women’s basketball team compiling a 13-16 overall record last season, Murphy’s competitive spirit on the court indicates that the team will only get better. Murphy finished the 2004-05 campaign with third team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and CAA All-Academic Team honoree. She was the only player in the CAA to average a double-double and ranked 15th in rebounding in the whole of Division One. Her consistent effort was evident in the CAA statistical leaders, as she was 13th in scoring, first in rebounding and fifth in field goal percentage. “My mentality is that I have to go out and get things done, and when I don’t, I think someone else is out there getting better and working harder than me,” says Murphy. “That eventually motivates me to push myself harder and harder.”
Not only is she an excellent athlete, she is also impressively dependable. She played in and started in all 29 games for the Pride last season, and she comes into the 2005-06 season having played 53 consecutive games and made 34 straight starts. This past summer,Murphy’s aim was to improve her ball-handling skills. Her abilities as a rising star were acknowledged when she was selected to join Canada’s Women’s National Development Team that represented Canada at the 2005 Summer Universiade Games in Izmir, Turkey.
In spite of Lizanne’s hectic summer schedule, this aspiring medical student has only one goal in mind heading into her junior year, to lead the Hofstra Pride to win the CAA championships and put an exclamation mark on her amateur credentials.