Column: Murray’s scoring ability is key to Aztecs’ success


Raymond Gorospe

Sophomore guard Naje Murray drives into the lane during the Aztecs 69-60 loss to Arizona on Dec. 2 at Viejas Arena.

by Daniel Farr, Staff Writer

Before the season, San Diego State women’s basketball’s Najé Murray said she’ll do whatever it takes to win.

If it’s rebounding, taking charges, diving on loose balls or getting her teammates involved, the sophomore guard will do it, but Murray must score first and foremost for her team to be successful.

Murray has an incredibly beautiful shot, especially from three-point range. It’s obvious she has a natural feel for the game of basketball. She is a cerebral player who is very aware of what’s going on around her.

But sometimes Murray needs to say “screw it” and simply take over just like her favorite athlete who played 20 years in Southern California – Kobe Bryant.

“I am obsessed with Kobe Bryant. I study him, I read his books, I watch his videos, I try to eat his diet, I try to embody him,” she said.

Murray, whose season-high is only 17 points, needs to take advantage of her God-given gift of scoring. When she heats up, she scores effortlessly.

In the 69-60 loss to Arizona on Sunday, Murray scored 10 points in the first quarter and the Wildcats could not stop her. As the game progressed, she became less aggressive on offense, hovering around the three-point line and ended up scoring only 16 points.

Murray said her focus is more than just scoring.

“It’s never about scoring, if I have 20 in the first and zero the rest of the game it doesn’t matter because there is other things I have to do,” Murray said.

Murray is being a humble, team-first player, but her team relies on her scoring and she must stay aggressive and demand shots in crunch time.

Not saying she needs to jack up ill-advised shots, but Murray must demand the ball more and try to create more shots for herself. That will result in the floor opening up more for her teammates.

Head coach Stacie Terry said Murray’s scoring is a vital part of the Aztecs’ offense.

“I need to give her some looks, draw up some plays where we can get her some easy looks because she is such a good shooter,” Terry said. “We do rely on her to score for us to be successful.”

Most of Murray’s shots are threes. On the year, she has made 24 out of 66 threes at 36 percent.

Shooting at that volume of threes and being able to maintain such an impressive percentage is quite rare.

Murray could use her deadly three point shot as a decoy to open up her teammates’ looks, try to get into the paint or pump fake and get the opposition in foul trouble.

If Murray can get her average up to 20 points per game and score into the paint more often, SDSU will be a tough cover for any team in the nation.