Bobby Hurley didn’t anticipate losing to a mid-major in his Arizona State coaching debut. So when the Sun Devils fell to Sacramento State 66-63 in their season opener on Friday, Hurley was admittedly taken aback.
“You go through a range of emotions, you go through shock and anger and then sometimes depression. You have all these things that you feel after a loss, but initially I was more just surprised at how we played,” Hurley told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Wednesday.
But as soon as the initial shock wore off, it was back to work the next day.
“We learned the hard lesson on Friday night, watched a lot of film on Saturday and then had a pretty physically demanding practice,” Hurley said.
Hurley is well aware that his players are still learning his style and a new system, but he didn’t take the loss lightly.
“I’m understanding of that but I think we sent the message on Saturday that it’s really not acceptable, the way we played and the way we lost, so we hopefully learned from it and have moved on,” Hurley said.
If Monday’s game against Belmont was any indication of his team’s response, the Sun Devils’ season opener is behind them. In the 83-74 win over the Bruins, Arizona State showed significant improvement offensively.
The Sun Devils’ field goal percentage improved from 41.8 in the opener to 47.4 in their second game.
Even more impressive, was what the Sun Devils were able to do from 3-point range. ASU was 10-21 from three on Monday – a far cry from the 2-for-17 performance they put together in Friday’s loss.
“The guys bounced back and got a quality win over a Belmont team on Monday that’s had NCAA Tournament experience with the majority of their team returning and they were coming off of a win against Marquette,” Hurley said. “For us to bounce back and get a win and get on track was a good feeling.”
The ASU bench put up 29 points in Monday’s win. Thirteen of those points came from Savon Goodman, who recorded a double-double after also pulling down 12 rebounds. Another 13 came from Kodi Justice, who missed most of last season after fracturing a bone in his foot.
“In our game versus Belmont he made some real key plays for us, particularly on the offensive end of the court with his ability to shoot,” Hurley said. “He’s a legitimate shooting threat and a guy that can also put it on the floor and he’s a good passer. He does a lot of things that I look for in a perimeter player and I’m happy that he had the game that he had versus Belmont coming into our game tonight.”
The Sun Devils host Kennesaw State Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. in the second game of the Legends Classic before heading to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next week for the second half of the tournament.
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