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AD Anderson speaks on maturing Hurley, understanding Herman-haters

Arizona State University athletic director Ray Anderson joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 14, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

The brashness that Bobby Hurley coaches with rubs some people the wrong way — certainly officials.

His boss, Arizona State vice president of university athletics Ray Anderson, sees it as his job to help his head basketball coach improve. He communicates with Hurley about his sideline outbursts and, more recently, the head coach’s calling out of Sun Devil fans last week following a home loss to Washington State.

“I have no problem with what Bobby said, particularly as it relates to the students,” Anderson said Thursday while visiting Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I do have a problem with him generally describing the environment as ‘dreadful.’ And we talked about that and, very frankly, he acknowledged that that was a little over-the-top. ‘Cause then you’re not just talking about the students, you’re drawing in the fans and alums and boosters who are there, frankly, all the time.

“That misinterpretation we needed to avoid. In terms of calling out the students and saying, ‘Hey, come fill this arena, we need your energy, we need your support on a night-in and night-out basis,’ I got no problem with Bobby challenging the students to do that.”

A day after ASU was blown out, 91-70, by a struggling WSU squad, Hurley last Friday said his team “played exactly how the crowd performed last night.”

The complaint came after the Sun Devil fans blotted out any red and blue with maroon and gold a week prior in Hurley’s first win over rival Arizona.

Anderson has the relationship to speak with Hurley on honest terms. The athletic director loves the passion of the emotionally-volatile head coach and believes there has been progress in Hurley’s demeanor over his three-plus years leading ASU.

“I personally believe he’s going to end up being an elite college basketball coach,” Anderson said.

“We have actually, no question, talked about the volatility, learning to control the emotions really in times of stress. He’s still growing and learning when to try to control himself and when to calm down.”

Telling the Herm-haters off?

It’s been more than a year since Anderson led ASU into the national spectacle by hiring then-ESPN analyst Herm Edwards to lead his football program.

A buzz-wordy press release and press conference became the story rather than Edwards’ credentials. He had been an NFL head coach, after all.

Edwards’ first season quickly turned the narrative on its head. ASU went 7-6 with a home upset over Michigan State in the nonconference schedule. The defense took major strides forward from the Todd Graham era.

And at minimum, the Sun Devils were competent and competitive. They also took promising steps forward on the recruiting front.

So does Anderson feel like saying, “I told you so”?

“No, I don’t because we had expectations, and very frankly, folks who didn’t know Herman, folks who didn’t know our relationship and how long we’d known each other, you couldn’t expect them to understand the qualities that Herman would bring to the program that I thought would advance the program,” Anderson said, “particularly the ability to recruit.”

“Folks who didn’t know those things about Herman Edwards, you can’t blame them for being skeptical,” he added. “No, I don’t need to say, ‘I told you so.’ All I can say now is those who were skeptical and the naysayers, hopefully they will pause, not immediately jump to being negative and give this program a chance. I think we’ve at least earned that from them.”

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