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Bobby Hurley: Winning 5 games in Pac-12 last year ‘something we’re not happy about’

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley yell instructions to his players from the sidelines during the first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against California in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, March. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
LISTEN: Bobby Hurley, ASU basketball coach

Bobby Hurley is entering his second year as Arizona State’s head basketball coach, and with the season opener on Friday against Portland State, he hopes it’ll be the start of something much improved.

After finishing 15-17 (5-13 in Pac-12) in 2015-16, Hurley knows his team has to play better and there is a sense of optimism. He joined Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming campaign and what his hopes are for the future of the program.

“Our philosophy is to challenge ourselves, to try and get some positive attention to the program, playing in some high profile games,” Hurley said. “It gives our players the opportunity to get some great travel, to play Kentucky in a neutral site in the Bahamas , and obviously to play at Madison Square Garden is going to be a big thrill for our players and play Purdue.”

A main focus for Hurley and his team though, will be to improve their conference record. The only school that did worse in the Pac-12 than ASU were the egregious 9-22 (1-17 in Pac-12) Washington State Cougars.

“I was really happy about our nonconference (games) when we went 10-3, but we had a very hard nonconference schedule,” Hurley said. “We didn’t play as well as I hoped we would play, we didn’t coach as well as I hoped we would coach in league play, and to win only five in the league is not something that we’re real happy about. Then again it was a great year for the Pac-12, it was a very competitive year with seven NCAA Tournament teams, so not a lot of wins out there to be had.”

The Pac-12 indeed had its fair-share of high-caliber teams last season.

The only schools that didn’t make the tournament from the Pac-12 were ASU, Washington State, UCLA, Stanford and Washington. USC (21-12, 9-9 in Pac-12) made the tournament with a .500 mark in conference play, and that might have been the discrepancy that kept ASU out of the Big Dance.

The 25-year anniversary of Hurley’s MVP award with Duke for his play in the 1992 Final Four, where the Blue Devils ended up beating Michigan 71-51 in the championship game and earning their second-consecutive title, is coming up.

When reflecting on that, and the season where Hurley took Buffalo to the tournament as their coach, he hopes to share similar memories as the head coach of ASU.

“It is exciting, and I’m obviously proud of those days and those accomplishments, and that year at Buffalo where we got to the tournament was a good of a feeling that I’ve had as a player or a coach,” Hurley said. “So that’s what it’s all about, those moments, and I hope to coach many games here at ASU and in the NCAA Tournament real soon.”

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