Sparked by Murdock’s Aggressive Backcourt Play, Majeski Foundation Wins Summer Hoops Crown
SOLID FOUNDATION: Eric Murdock, Jr. of Majeski Foundation, left, passes the ball last Friday at Community Park in game two of the best-of-three championship series in the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League. Murdock scored a game-high 19 points to help Majeski to a 62-55 win over King’s Pizzarama as it swept the series 2-0 to earn the title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
After missing the opening game of the Princeton Recreation Department Summer Men’s Basketball League championship series, Eric Murdock was determined to make an impact when he hit the court for Majeski Foundation in game two last Friday.
With first-seeded Majeski, which is comprised of players from The College of New Jersey men’s hoops squad, having defeated third-seeded King’s Pizzarama 62-58 in the opener on Wednesday and needing one more win to clinch the title in the best-of-three series, speedy guard Murdock showed a sense of urgency from the start, repeatedly slashing to the basket at the Community Park courts.
“The whole time, I just wanted to be aggressive, attack the basket, and try to get everyone involved,” said Murdock, a 6’3, 175-pound guard who was named as an All-New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) first-team performer last winter when he averaged 19.1 points and 6.4 assists a game in his sophomore season for TCNJ.
“That has been the game all last season, playing for TCNJ. I just wanted to keep working on my game with strong finishing and making the right plays at all times.”
Murdock scored six points as top-seeded Majeski built a 31-14 halftime lead over King’s, seemingly on its way to a rout.
But on the verge of elimination. King’s rallied, starting the second half with a 26-10 run to narrow the gap to 41-40.
Murdock and his teammates, though, weren’t fazed, outscoring King’s 21-15 over the last nine minutes of the contest to earn a 62-55 win and the title.
“We just stepped away from our game; we were letting them come up the court and no one was getting back,” said Murdock, the son of former Providence College and NBA player Eric Murdock.
“After a while, we adjusted, making sure people were getting back and stopping the ball. We started hitting shots again towards the end and we got our lead back a little bit.”
In reflecting on the team’s 12-1 campaign, Murdock cited balance and unselfish play as keys to its success.
“Everyone wants to move the ball and work together and that is what this team has been about all summer season,” said Murdock, who scored a game-high 19 points on Friday with Jordan Glover adding 14 and Eric Klacik chipping in 11.
“Every game someone else was leading the way; it wasn’t even by a lot, maybe the leading scorer had a four or five point differential. It was a group of unselfish guys. We just have one goal at hand and that is to win. I am very fortunate to be on this team. It is a group of selfless guys and all we want to do is win championships.”
Klacik, for his part, saw an intensity from his teammates as they went after their goal of a title.
“Guys are definitely committed; we are not just
showing up here and playing two times a week,” said Klacik. “Everyone is working out the other five days. It is showing this summer, guys are definitely improving.”
Putting in extra work over the summer puts the squad ahead of its NJAC foes.
“To us, it is serious basketball even though it is a summer league,” added Klacik, pointing out that the team advanced to the summer league semis last year and the title series in 2014.
“This gives us momentum. We leave from school and a lot of teams may not see each other or whatever. Seeing each other two times a week and playing together is big advantage for us.”
For Glover, being on the court in June and July helps deepen the team’s already strong bonds.
“We are a brotherhood; we are not from the same kin but on the court we are all brothers,” said Glover. “This is helping us because next season we have to come in dialed in.”
Glover was dialed in down the stretch this summer, earning the Foreal Wooten Playoff MVP award, totaling a team-high 46 points in Majeski’s four postseason contests.
“I was honestly surprised; I like to be humble,” said Glover, reflecting on winning the award. “I like to feel that I am coming in and learning. I don’t like to bring anyone down; I like to keep everyone together.”
In Murdock’s view, coming up with the summer league championship could lay the foundation for a title run by TCNJ in its 2016-17 campaign.
“We just have to play together; it is not individual basketball, it is working with all five and even everyone on the bench,” said Murdock, noting that the Lions advanced to the NJAC title game this past March.
“If people on the bench aren’t screaming and getting everyone encouraged, we are going to have a slow start to the year. If everyone buys into the system and we focus on that one goal, we are going to be a good team this coming winter.”