Clifton Murry is a talker.
He admits that—at least three times during a 30-minute interview.
Murry wants people to be talking about UW Whitewater-Rock County men’s basketball.
And not what they were talking about last season.
Murry—who has coached a boys CYO team, the Beloit Memorial girls freshman team, and a Beloit girls traveling team—is an energetic 1989 Beloit Memorial graduate who wants to fill the stands for Rattlers games.
“It’s free,’’ Murry says of the games at the Kellogg Avenue campus in the Cultural Center gym.
Murry, who has lived in Janesville the past 20 years, appears to be the perfect choice to lead the program. He plans to man booths at high schools from Beloit to Janesville to Milton to Stoughton, recruiting students to attend the Rock County campus for two years before transferring to a four-year school—such as UW-Whitewater.
After all, after the state mandate that matched WIAC schools with nearby two-year colleges to save money, UW-Whitewater Rock County students can stay in dorms at UW-Whitewater and shuttle each way to the Janesville campus for classes.
“I love basketball,” Murry says. “I’ve coached it for over 20 years.”
Janesville parents that had children play over that time probably know Murry. He began coaching youth programs at the Janesville YMCA, then started a traveling team—the Janesville Wolverines.
He also coached in the Janesville CYO league.
For the past three years, the former social worker has taught special education and English at Beloit Memorial, and coached the Purple Knights girls freshman squad.
Two seasons ago, his freshman team lost just four games. You have to realize that the Beloit varsity girls team is in the midst of a four-year 3-88 stretch, so Murry was proud of his team’s four-loss season.
“But guess who heard about it?” Murry said, his voice growing louder. “NO ONE!”
He hopes that people will start to hear about the Rattlers program. Murry loves to press and run a UW-like cutting offense.
In practices, Murry is right there with his players, running laps and doing drills.
“How can I expect them to make a free throw if I can’t make a free throw?” he asks.
And he stresses team attitude.
“High-five each other whether you messed up or not,” he tells his teams.
And then there’s this point of emphasis.
“If a ref makes a bad call, get back on the defense,” he said. “It’s over, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
“You can be angry if you lose, but channel it.”
That was not the case last season, and that is the reason the Rattlers’ job opened for Murry. In a late-season game in Waukesha, the former Rattlers coach and his non-staff son were accused of beating up an official after the game had ended.
The upbeat Murry is a 180-degree turn from that.
Other changes include purple uniforms in the color scheme of UW-Whitewater. The gymnasium in the Cultural Center on the campus in the 2900 block of Kellogg Avenue will be repainted in Warhawks colors next month.
There is no women’s team this season because of lack of players. Murry plans to have one next season, and has a Rock County Christian School player that has committed already.
UW-Whitewater Rock County opens its 17-game season Saturday at 2:45 p.m. at home against Marathon County.
The program appears to be in good hands, and Murry is prepared to back up his talk.
“This is my ship,” Murry said. “I’m captain of the ship.”