Dan River promotes Kenny Murphy to boys basketball coach
Oct 14, 2012 (Menafn - Danville Register & Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --There are the attributes on the sidelines that stood out to why Jacob Gruse was successful with his teams at Dan River -- passion, dedication and sweating as much on the bench as his players were on the floor. His theatrics sometimes were more entertaining than the games themselves, but it worked in motivating his players.
What sometimes was overlooked by the general public is the behind-the-scenes work that Gruse and his staff did in preparing the Wildcats for their opponents. And each assistant coach played his part of making sure everything worked.
In promoting Kenny Murphy from assistant to head coach, Dan River got a coach who brought the same fire and intensity on the bench -- while not as theatrical as Gruse -- and who exhibited the same work ethic in the preparation stages.
"It's an honor and a privilege. I know I have my work cut out," Murphy said. "One thing that we're going to emphasize this year is getting better. ... Jacob left us in good hands."
Murphy served as an assistant on the varsity level the past three seasons under Gruse and this is his first head coaching position at the high school level.
What allowed Murphy to become the front-runner in the search was his time on the bench during the greatest four-year run in Dan River history.
Gruse guided the Wildcats to a 106-59 record over his seven seasons in Ringgold, which was highlighted by a spectacular four-year run that saw Dan River emerge as one of the top powers in Group A, Division 2.
Dan River went 83-19 over that stretch, claiming three Dogwood District regular-season titles (2009, 2011 and 2012), two district tournament titles (2009 and 2012), two Danville Register & Bee Holiday Shootout titles (2011-12), one Region B, Division 2, championship (2012) and four straight appearances in the state tournament (2009-12).
The Wildcats advanced to the Group A, Division 2, state championship game in 2009 before falling to Radford.
"I've very excited; the kids are excited as well," Murphy said. "They know we missed out on some opportunities."
Murphy said leading up to the first coaches' meeting Monday that the previous coaching staff will remain in place with assistants Ben Elliott, Anthony Thomas and Burt Sparks.
And once the staff is set, whether it remain at its current size or expanded down the line, the coaches will get to work on getting the Wildcats better than last year's 25-1 record.
"This group needs to get better at man-to-man defense," Murphy said, citing the team's rotation on defense and putting themselves in better position to get defensive rebounds. ... We do have some size coming back and we're trying to out score our opponents with points in the paint."
Murphy said the team's ultimate goal is claiming the Group A, Division 2, state championship that has eluded the Wildcats the past four seasons. In order to get there first, he said the team has two goals to achieve first -- get Murphy his first win as coach and win the Dogwood District regular-season title to guarantee Dan River a berth in the Region B, Division 2, tournament.
"You've got to take your small goals first to get to the big one," Murphy said.
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