By Kevin Wilson, Freedom Newspapers
Greyhound assistant basketball coach Mark Murdock is going north.
Following five years as the top assistant to Shawn Scanlan, Murdock has accepted the head coach position at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo.
He replaces Larry Mortenson, who moved full-time into the college’s athletic director position following a Mountain Athletic Conference West Division championship season.
“We are thrilled to have Mark and his family become a part of the Adams State family,” Mortensen said. “Most importantly, he is excited for the opportunity to be here.”
Extremely excited, Murdock said Wednesday night.
“My five years at Eastern were exactly what I needed. Working for Shawn, I needed that. You can’t believe my level of enthusiasm.”
Athletics officials were sad to see his departure, but happy he gets another chance as a head coach.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for Mark,” Athletic Director Mike Maguire said. “He’s done very well at Eastern … and we wish him the best.”
Scanlan said they knew about Mortenson’s intention to vacate the position for quite some time, and Murdock was chosen from three finalists — the other two were Division I assistants who pursued other endeavors.
“He was ready,” Scanlan said. “I told him he was ready last year. There’s a time in your field when you know somebody’s ready. He was looking, but he was looking for jobs he had a reasonable chance to get.”
It will be the second head coaching opportunity for Murdock, 39, who coached for four years at Division III Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, before coming to ENMU in 2002.
Scanlan led the Greyhounds to back-to-back Lone Star Conference titles in Murdock’s first two seasons as an assistant. The team has gone 73-65 with Murdock as an assistant.
Scanlan said replacing Murdock is not the first priority right now, as Wednesday was national signing day. However, he said he’s already got a few people scoped as Murdock’s replacement.
Murdock led Eastfield to a back-to-back 20 win seasons, a 2001 Metro Athletic Conference title and a sweet 16 appearance in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Division III Tournament.
He came to be an assistant at ENMU because he felt he needed more experience.
“I thought my last two years (at Eastfield), I underacheived,” Murdock said. “We should have gotten a lot farther. I think I got a great benefit from being under two completely different guys (Scanlan and former Eastfield coach Bob Flickner).”
With the Grizzlies reaching the NCAA Division II Tournament, Murdock thought the timing was perfect.
“The iron is hot here, it’s blazing,” Murdock said. “You’ve got excitement from the NCAA tournament appearance. People are excited. They’ve had a taste of what the tournament’s all about … and they want more of it.”