Improved mindset and confidence paying dividends for Iowa men’s basketball player Kris Murray

The junior said he developed his new mentality of leaving the past in the past this offseason.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa forward Kris Murray sits for a timeout during a men’s basketball game between Iowa and Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 93-82.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa men’s basketball forward Kris Murray spent last season playing second fiddle to his twin brother Keegan, who is now an NBA rookie starter for the Sacramento Kings.

Coming into the 2022-23 season, Kris Murray’s production without his brother in Iowa City was a question for the Hawkeye men’s basketball community.

Murray averaged just under 10 points per game in less than 18 minutes per contest as a sophomore, but he was expected to produce with all eyes on him.

And he’s stepped up to the challenge. As a junior, Kris Murray has started all 18 games he’s played in — he missed four contests in December with a leg injury — and doubled both his scoring output and floor time.

He’s led the Hawkeyes in scoring and playing time with an average of 20.6 points and over 34 minutes a game. Keegan Murray averaged 23.5 points last season.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said that Kris Murray is excelling offensively because of the versatility of his game.

“[Kris] makes threes, drives the ball, offensive rebound put-backs, scores from different locations on the floor, so you can’t really scheme your defense because [he’s] never in one place,” McCaffery said on Jan. 19.

The Big Ten’s second-leading scorer has contributed double-digit points in all but one game this season, poured in 20 or more on nine occasions, and eclipsed the 30-point mark four times. Kris Murray needs one more 30-point outing to tie his brother’s five 30 pieces from a season ago.

Kris Murray said this offseason was pivotal in his improvement. He worked out with NBA scouts and attended a camp run by the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard.

“I’m playing with a lot more confidence this year,” Kris Murray said on Jan. 19. “Just going through pre-[NBA Draft] last year, going to Damian Lillard’s camp in August, I think, gave me a lot of confidence in myself, just knowing how good of a player I can be.”

Kris Murray said the confidence he gained in the offseason has also helped him become a leader on this year’s Hawkeye team.

While working through pre-NBA Draft activities, scouts may have been the boost he needed to understand he has all the on-court skills to be great. Kris Murray’s mentality has also influenced his ascension.

McCaffery said Kris Murray’s improved mindset of playing in the present and not dwelling on missed shots or bad plays has made him a completely different person compared to last season.

 “I just knew that I had the skillset and that it would come with who I was working with over the summer, that my skillset would get better,” Kris Murray said. “But it’s more the mental side that I worked on, just being able to just shrug off shots that I don’t make and not put my head down and just kind of pick my head up knowing that the next one’s going in.”

Kris Murray’s forward-looking attitude was more evident in Iowa’s 81-67 victory over Maryland on Jan. 15. After he made just one of four shots in the first half, the Cedar Rapids product tallied 17 of his 19 points in the second half on 7-of-11 shooting, including a 3-pointer and two free throws.

“I knew that I needed to make an impact on that game,” Kris Murray said. “I knew that kind of with the matchups that I had, I knew that I was in really good shape, that I’d be able to just kind of wear down the defense eventually. When my name was called, I knew they’d just keep going back to me, that I get a good look every single time. It was a lot of confidence in myself to bring that one home.”

And Kris Murray couldn’t help but take a shot at his brother when a reporter asked if he would’ve been able to take over a game in that manner in 2021-22.

“I don’t think so, with Keegan on the court,” Kris said sarcastically. “I don’t think so a year ago. I would’ve been a person that would’ve maybe scored on a couple plays, and then just kind of let someone else take over. I think that’s kind of where I’ve come along in the last year.”