SHAY MURPHY: “NEVER COUNT YOUR EGGS BEFORE THEY HATCH”
Jorge Méndez had a big trouble at his team backcourt when after last season Armintie Price, who had a big contribution to the team, said she won’t be back next season because of her wedding, but Mendez’s moves couldn’t be better nor faster since he took to his team last season MVP, Shay Murphy, who in her first year in Spain had a breakout season with Miguel Ángel Estrada’s team, León, right before it folded.
After the necessary adjustment period Shay has grown confident in her chances and also her teammates and she’s working at full capacity – her last two games she had 31 and 33 pts - being “The player” in Joventut Mariana’s offense and being the “go to” player when the ball starts burning, demonstrating that last season wasn’t just by accident.
A member of last WNBA runners up, Indiana Fever, Shay didn’t contribute as much as she’s have desired for Lin Dunn last Seaton but the L.A. native guard is confident that the lifting spirit she has after a big season in Spain will help her out to join the Fever again and maybe finally have a breakout year in WNBA.
We talked a little bit of something with Shay Murphy…
Q: I’ll begin asking you about how are you feeling in Sóller? Since you’re from a big city like L.A., last year you played in Indiana…
Shay: Sóller is very different from the States and L.A. because Sóller is a really small town, but I like everything in Sóller. It’s really quite, people are great and nice…
Q: Last year you did a great season in León. Unfortunately the team folded so you couldn’t play there again, What brought you to Sóller?, What decided you to come here instead other places?
Shay: Playing in León last year was very cold and Mallorca is a beautiful island, I really liked the players, the team from last year, so I thought that I could play for this team and help out, and I really like the coaches, and just the atmosphere.
I think they’re a good organization.
I think the difference is that besides playing basketball, there’s a life. You can see Sóller, you can see Mallorca, I can play basketball, take Spanish classes, and visit. You know? Have a life besides basketball, like dealing, going to the port and have a coffee… a lot of things.
Q: Personally how’s been the season for you so far?
Shay: In the beginning of this season I wasn’t playing very well. I wasn’t very comfortable playing, but I think the more time passed I feel more comfortable playing, I have more confidence in my teammates, and my coach. Overall the balance is, in the beginning bad, now, in the end, feeling better and better, feeling more comfortable.
Q: What do you think about the team’s play?
Shay: I think each game we play better and more together but I think we’ve potential to be really good and play well. I think each game we’re gaining confidence and we’re getting used to each other, understanding how to play with each other. We still have problems but we’re learning everyday in practice and getting better.
Q: WNBA players tend to use their off-season in Europe to improve their games, How’s improved your game this off-season?
Shay: Exactly! This season I think my pull-up jumpshot it’s better, I’m getting more confidence with it and I continue to score more consistently from outside, so getting more confidence with shooting. I think there is a lot of things to improve, the most of all is confidence and getting more comfortable everyday.
Q: What about the Spanish league level? Did it help you to improve?
Shay: Definitely! I think Spain is one of the top countries in the world for competition. Each game you’re playing against good girls, athletic teams like Ros Casares, Salamanca, Rivas… each team has foreigners and Spanish players that are really good and that compete. Every game I have hard defense everyday, two defenders… I like the competition in Spain, I like the play and getting challenge.
Q: The Spanish league is coming to its end and then time will come for you to come back to the States and playing the WNBA. Are you looking forward to prepare WNBA season?
Shay: Yes. WNBA is very tough, it’s a challenge each year, and it’s getting harder and harder for players to make a team, make a roster. I’m going have maybe a week or so to go back to L.A. and prepare mentally and physically for Training Camp.
To play in the WNBA is such a great honor for me, I hope I make the team and play for Indiana this year. I’m excited; it’s another challenge, a lot of hard work. The Spanish season ends and WNBA season begins. I enjoy working hard, getting better, playing against the best…
Q: Curiously in Spain you’re one of the top scorers, last year you were Seaton MVP, but when you come back to the States seems like it doesn´t count and you have to fight to get some playing time, one chance. Last year was even especially hard since teammates in your position were Katie Douglas, Tamecka Dixon or Tamika Catchings, How does it feel about it?
Shay: To me what I do in Spain, or what I do anywhere, is never enough, it doesn’t matter. That’s there, the States are the States and it matters what you do right now. For me I never look: “Oh, last game I made 30 points” it doesn’t matter, for me it’s a new game, a new season, a new team, a new practice, a new week… so I never think about what I’ve done, I think about right now and maybe when I’m playing behind some of the greatest players in the world like Katie Douglas or Tamika Catchings, of course I’m not better than them, I can only learn from them and hope to help when I get a chance.
They don’t look about it like: “You’re gonna be on a team, you’re gonna play 20 minutes because you scored 20 pts in Europe.” That doesn’t matter, let’s see what you against Americans, the best… That’s all that matters in the summer, it doesn’t matter what you do in Turkey or in Spain, it’s what you do in the States against the best.
Q: Doesn’t it make you feel kind of underestimated?
Shay: No. For me the most biggest Challenge is playing in the States. I mean, you practice with Tamika Catchings everyday, here you’d play against Tamika Catchings once a week or once a month, there’s everyday. Everyday there’s a Katie Douglas, everyday there’s a Diana Taurasi. Everyday there’s someone good, someone amazing, big names. It’s like if you’re playing against Amaya Valdemoro everyday, I don’t do that. It’s those big names, they’re the best in what they do and for me playing against them I can only get better and hope one day I’m as good as them.
Q: Then… what would it take to you to have a breakout year?
Shay: I really want I breakout year. I need I breakout year in the WNBA. I think just having confidence in myself and having a coach that trusts me and say: “You’re good, gonna stub you in for four minutes and give Kate a break!” and let me play and do my thing. I need a coach that trust me, because here I can score 20 pts a game because my coach trusts me, my teammates trust me, it’s ok if I miss. There’s a difference, you do it or you don’t or you’re out, you don’t get a chance to play and develop confidence.
Q: You’re right now in the Eastern Conference Champion team from last year, and eventually runner up in the competition, How did you feel in the playoffs?
Shay: There’s positive and negatives. The fact that I even got to play in the playoffs number one was Amazing. The fact that we won the Eastern Championship was awesome, you bet Detroit, you beat whomever to get there and that’s something that organization’s never done. Indiana’s never beat them, and to go five games against Phoenix Mercury that has two WNBA Titles already, they have the experience, it’s amazing. Now I think that we know what it takes to win in the end, we’re happy we got there but it’s not enough, we want to win it, you’re not satisfied. It’s a great experience, a great opportunity, and I think most of us know now how hard you have to play until the end to win it. I mean, we lost by eight in game five at Phoenix, one free throw there, one call there, one three pointer missed there and that’s the game. It’s just a great experience, a great opportunity and I think we’re only going build on that.
Q: Talking about the league, here happened to León last year, but in WNBA has happen some times more, I mean teams folding. This year’s been Sacramento, last year Houston, Tulsa acquired Detroit’s franchise… Is there any particular reason?
Shay: Like anywhere in the World there’s a crisis in the economy so of course people are losing their jobs, teams are folding, there’s budget cuts… that’s normal when there’re economic problems. And in the States WNBA is not as popular as NBA or NFL, we’ve lot of Sports. Here’s not the same, there’s a lot of Sports, a lot of entertainment for the people to follow and it’s hard to come with money and keep people interested with an economic crisis. That’s basically.
Q: How do a player feels when her team folds? What’s coming to your head?
Shay: Those thoughts are normal, of course, we’re scared, “It’s gonna fold! It’s my team, maybe it’s your team next… maybe it’s my job” Of course you think that and that’s why each moment you have to appreciate playing and opportunity, because it’s not going last forever. It’s not guaranteed.
Q: What’s your goal for next year?
Shay: My goal is to come off and have a breakout year. Be a consistent player, a consistent scorer and play consistently. I need a chance and I want to be a consistent player, whether that’s ten minutes a game and 6-8 pts a game, I want to just be a consistent player, like I want a breakout year. I mean, in three years in Europe I’ve been the top scorer, I’ve played EuroCup two years in a row, I’m leading scoring in Spain, I can do that potentially, now it’s time to do it in the States, so that’s just my goal.
Q: Tamecka Dixon announced her retirement, could be that a chance to make it again with Indy and maybe have a breakout year?
Shay: Yes. Tamecka is a great player, a legendary player in the WNBA. I believe her retiring gives me a better chance and opportunity to play more minutes and be a constant contributor. But one day at a time and one practice at a time to see how things go
Q: Did you enjoy playing EuroCup?
Shay: I love playing EuroCup, or EuroLeague, because you travel to other countries, you get to see other cultures, and yet you get to play against other players, good players. For me it’s a great experience because I love playing basketball and I love playing games, so you get two games a week, EuroCup and Spanish league, and it gives you a chance to compete with other countries, I enjoy playing EuroCup, I think it’s tough for most teams because it costs a lot of money. They have to pay for the travels, the hotels… and it makes the player tired, but for me it’s worth it. The two years I’ve played EuroCup I loved it.
Q: What about the level?
Shay: The competition is good. There are good teams, if the level of the countries wouldn’t be good they won’t be in EuroCup. It’s great, you compete against Austria or Hungary…
Q: Before joining WNBA family you spent your collegiate years at USC where you got your degree in Sociology, How was your collegiate experience?, What was the best you got from it?
Shay: Sociology and Communications. College is a great opportunity. You live on Campus, you got to get pride for your university, you wear the shirt, the hat… Everything’s great.
Basketball is different from high school to college and you’ve got to adjust to it. I think my junior and senior years I became “The player”, I became a scorer, an important piece to my college team, and that was great for me, to be recognized on the team, and even nationally with awards, along with top players like Noelle Quinn or Nikki Blue; players with big names. Towards the end of my junior and senior years that’s when I became more confident, and tried to working hard, changing my body, physically and mentally to be a basketball players.
Q: What was the difference between your two first college years (freshman and sophomore) from the last two in which you blossomed as a player?
Shay: Yeah! Because you can stay mediocre. My first two years, in the summers, I didn’t work, I was resting but after that I thought “Ok, if I want to be good I’ve got to work, if I want to get better I got to work” If you want to take that 15 shots a game you got to proof you teammates and your coaches why you should take that 15 shots a game, and it was because everyday while people were resting, or going to the movies, or partying I was shooting 500 shots, or I was running, or lifting, or swimming, or doing footwork to get better, so therefore you earn the respect, you earn to shoot, to play 25 minutes a game, you earn that because you worked in the summer.
Q: What was the best thing you took from your collegiate experience?
Shay: I think the best was being able (to make) that your teammates depend on you. I wasn’t a leader vocally but by example. By working hard, by coming and shooting, by staying extra, by… just wanting to play all the time. I just wanted to play. Just having that and the confidence from my coach. You know confidence can make a player great, like, if you believe in her everything’s going to be ok.
I learned a lot of things: I learn mentally how to keep playing when things don’t go your way, when you don’t play well, or you don’t get a call, don’t yell at the refs, keep playing; if your jump shots are not going in just do a different thing, help the team by rebounding, help the team by defense, help the team by free throws, or cheering… I’ve learned all that in college and that’s why in WNBA, you know I’m not playing 30 minutes, but you won’t see me on bench crying, I’m going to be cheering my teammates. I learned all that in College.
Q: And why Communications-Sociology?
Shay: Because the States had their issues like racism, equality, civil rights, women didn’t have rights, women couldn’t vote, African American people couldn’t vote… It’s just crazy to study where we came from in the past and where are we going…
Now we have an African American president, five years ago we’d never had it. It’s interesting to me to know the history and know where we come from. And for Communications that’s because I really enjoy talking and the entertainment industry. I really enjoy meeting new people when communicating.
Q: Would you pursue Sociology professionally, or something related to that, in the future?
Shay: No, I would not like to pursue Sociology as a profession. I would like to pursue the Entertainment Industry.
Q: Changing the subject. Coming back to Spain and out of the court you've been enjoying your spare time going to concerts and sightseeing. Let's get on the music topic. For what I've read you happen to be a very musical person and you even compose your own music, may I guess R & B??
Shay: I haven't composed any R&B music... I have written a few songs here and there that could be classified under the Pop/Rock genre.... But I enjoy writing music and singing songs. It's my 2nd love
Q: Did you ever publish some music or written music to somebody else?
Shay: I am in the process of hopefully publishing some songs and lyrics.. Hopefully one day, I can write famous songs for artists all around the world.
Q: What are your influences in the musical scene?
Shay: I am inspired and influenced by all types of singers and genre of music. I enjoy listening to James Morrison, Jason Mraz, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Leona Lewis, Adele, Daughtry, all types of genre I enjoy.
Q: You’re also a huge fan of Janet Jackson did you get to know her?
Shay: I have always grown up listening to Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey music... I have met Janet Jackson a couple of times and have gotten autographs. I also have met Mariah Carey two times and have taken photos with her. They both were really nice.
Q: Yet in the entertainment industry, at least here in Spain, Did you finally got to see a bullfight? Why would you like to see it?
Shay: I have not seen a Bull Fight in Spain yet. I just assumed that watching a bull fight is very typical of Spain and that would be something I would have to do playing two seasons here.
Q: We've talked about music influences, back to hoops, what are your influences or players you watch to improve or imitate?
Shay: I enjoy watching Kobe Bryant play. I think he is an amazing player and his ability to score and create shots for himself and teammates is incredible... I also like players such as Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas, Nicole Powell, Deanna Nolan... each of those players have different types of game and skills that I’d like to add to my game. I would like to take certain skills from each player and add them to my game and create the most amazing player ever. hahahaha
Q: We’re reaching the end of this talk and I’m going to ask you about the future. People have already began talking about next season, Would you like to repeat in Sóller?
Shay: Yes I would love to play in Sóller again. I love the Island Life and the town is very diverse with a lot of tourists. I love Sóller and my teammates and coaches and the fans, but I also not like to think ahead or much into the future. I always take it one day at a time. "Never count your eggs before that hatch".... That is a famous phrase in English. I like to worry and focus about this season and winning games in Sóller and getting better each week as a player and as a team. After this season, my next focus and concerned is playing in the WNBA and trying to make the team during Training camp.
Q: Well, let me tell you we’d not just love it, but it would be such a great honor having such a quality player and great person as you are back in Sóller next season. But you say well: “Never count your eggs before that hatch”…
Shay, it’s been a big privilege for us to share these minutes with you, and being able to know a little more the big person behind the player. We sincerely wish you have a breakout year in WNBA and then be back in Spain.
Thanks a lot.
Photos Credit: Miquel Bordoy