As the Bakersfield College players were getting dressed in the locker room at the Allan Hancock Holiday Tournament, head coach Rich Hughes was surprised when he saw point guard Johnathan Murray’s assist total on the box score.
“Dang, you had 18 assists,” Hughes told Murray.
The sophomore didn’t believe his coach and checked the piece of paper himself.
“Eighteen? Shoot. That’s crazy,” Murray said.
It broke the team record in Hughes’ 13-year tenure and is most likely an all-time school record, Hughes said.
Murray is the facilitator for BC’s offense and the glue that holds the team together. On a squad that features players like Jamar Hammonds, Tucker Eenigenburg and Jaylunn English, who can all go off for more than 20 points on any given night, Hughes calls Murray the “unsung hero.”
The point guard leads the state with 7.4 assists per game this season and is tied for seventh with a 3.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. His and BC’s next challenge will be a home game against El Camino on Friday at 5 p.m. in the Gil Bishop Sports Center.
“He makes the right play and as a coach you should see it,” Hughes said. “It’s just a basic play, but he does a lot of the basic things and that’s why he’s so good.”
Seven games into the year, Murray put up 12 assists against Cerro Coso. Hughes told Murray he was getting close to leading the state in assists and breaking the team record for assists in a game. Murray took both as a challenge and pulled off the 18 five games later.
Like that day, even Hughes doesn’t always realize how many passes for baskets Murray makes in a game. Murray takes advantage of driving and passing either inside to English or outside to Eenigenburg. He’s also quick to push the ball in transition, where Hammonds is a big benefactor.
“It’s not a flashy pass,” Hughes said. “Some guys, they average a lot of assists and it’s these throwing it through guys’ legs and this type of thing. He’s not like that. He’s more solid, making simple plays.”
Murray has the benefit of being in his second year playing with Hammonds, Eenigenburg, English and others. He knows where they’ll be and has gotten better at keeping all the shooters on the team happy.
Because Murray only takes about four shots per game, his teammates know he’s not neglecting a pass to them for selfish reasons.
“They make my point guard stuff real easy because they can really score and make shots,” Murray said.
“His most important role for us is to just to keep us together as a group and keep us level headed,” Hughes said. “That’s a tough job.”
Murray also has to manage his own ego because he does get upset when his teammates miss shots they should make.
Murray tries not to pay attention to the statistics so he doesn’t let that affect his play, but Hughes does and the coach is considering his next challenge for Murray as the team heads into conference play.
“Maybe the next one is, ‘Hey, get 20 (assists),’” Hughes said.