Kansas Wesleyan basketball coach Anthony Monson didn’t have to look far for a new full-time assistant. The best and most logical candidate sat next to him on the Coyotes’ bench the last two years.
Jordan Murdock, who most recently served at KWU as a graduate assistant and was an All-America player at Friends, has been promoted and will be Monson’s top aide during the 2022-23 season.
“He’s just a guy who understands basketball really well and he relates very, very well to players. That’s a good combination,” Monson said. “A lot of times coaches have one or the other – they’re really good at Xs and Os and have a really good feel for the game but the players don’t see the game the way they do.”
Murdock joined Monson’s staff in 2020 after his career at Friends ended and played a key role last winter in helping the Coyotes compile a 23-11 record (15-9 in the Kansas Conference) and gain an at-large bid to the NAIA national tournament – the program’s first since the 2006-07 season. KWU defeated Indiana-South Bend at Hartman Arena in the first round in March.
Murdock’s attributes go beyond game strategy.
“The other thing that makes him very good is the fact that he’s very humble,” Monson said. “When you’ve got a guy who’s humble, understands the game and has the ability to relate to players you’re in some pretty good company as far as getting your coaching career started. He’s very blessed to have all three.”
Murdock said his new role will allow him to take on additional administrative responsibilities.
“I’ll help coach out with a lot of things off the court,” he said, “Basically lightening his load with the administration part as well as amplifying what I do with the kids on a daily basis. I have office hours and have to stay on top of making sure that they stand on top of their grades and things like that.”
Murdock got an abrupt trial run as the head man last season when he was told he would coach the team against York on January 14 inside Mabee Arena after Monson became ill and departed during the women’s game.
The Coyotes rallied for an 89-86 victory.
“Coach made sure I was prepared,” Murdock said. “I didn’t do anything differently with the guys, most of it was the same as when he was here. I didn’t want to break them of their routine and they understood the task that we had coming up.”
“I think any of my assistants I’ve had in the past would have done a good a really job too but that’s because we allow them to do so much to prepare them for that,” Monson said. “Then when the time comes for it, they’ve done enough work where it’s very natural for them.”
Murdock, a former standout at Wichita Southeast High School, has been especially effective as a recruiter since arriving at KWU.
“I just try to relate with (recruits),” he said. “I think I’ve done a good job of communicating with them, letting them know what our campus has to offer and what our town has to offer.”
He said the job gets easier when recruits come to Salina for a visit.
“As soon as they step on campus, we have a good chance of getting them to come just because we have such a nice campus, such nice facilities and we make that the forefront of what we have to offer along with this being a great school with great academics and things like that,” he said.
Murdock’s ability to relate and empathize with athletes of all skill levels is another a strength, according to Monson.
“I think a lot of times really good players struggle being good coaches because it was easy for them and they can’t understand why others can’t do it like they did,” he said. “In Jordan’s case he was able to naturally flip that switch and understands that the people he coaches aren’t going to be as naturally talented as he is. He was able to focus on more of the things that players can’t control.
“Jordan talks to them about your effort, your attitude and your body language. He does that more so than even talking Xs and Os.”
Murdock says the Coyotes still have plenty of work to do even after last season’s successes.
“One of the things that coach and I talked about is that yeah, we got to the national tournament and we won that game but we were also fifth in the league,” he said. “We don’t want that to happen, we want to win the league, we want to be the best team in the league. We’ve got some tough teams in our league, there’s no way to get around that. We’ve got to keep going forward and keep getting better.”
Murdock said he’s looking forward to the ’22-23 season.
“I feel like with the young core that we have returning next year and the addition of a couple of new guys we should be very, very competitive,” he said. “We’re looking forward to next season. We want to win.”