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Bobby Hurley, Arizona State still searching for team’s identity

TULSA, OKLAHOMA - MARCH 22: Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils speaks to Remy Martin #1 during the first half of the first round game of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Buffalo Bulls at BOK Center on March 22, 2019 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Bobby Hurley answered questions from the media about the Arizona State men’s basketball team on Tuesday at Pac-12 media day in San Francisco.

The ASU head coach is confident in his team’s ability to score points and win a lot of games this upcoming season, yet he said the Sun Devils are still in the process of determining their identity.

“We do have a strong core of returning players that have now been at consecutive NCAA tournaments, so there’s a good expectation of winning a lot of basketball games,” said the fifth year ASU coach. “So that’s a good feeling for a coach to bring back players like Rob Edwards, Remy Martin, Kimani Lawrence, Romello White, who looks fantastic, and Taeshon Cherry, and then we’ve added some solid guys, as well.”

Although the team has size with guys like veteran forward White, Hurley thinks this year’s team more closely resembles his roster from two seasons ago, especially since they lost Zylan Cheatham and Luguentz Dort to the NBA.

“I think we had a little more physical, dominant way about how we could rebound and defend,” he said. “Losing Zylan Cheatham and Lu Dort, we’ve added some different guys that I think will make us a little bit more guard oriented, a more dangerous team in terms of being able to score the ball in a variety of ways and just have some positional versatility with our roster and some big wings, also, to go along with the smaller guards.

“And again, Romello White has had a great offseason. I expect him to have a big year.”

Hurley, a former guard himself is also expecting big things from guys new to the program including junior guard Alonzo Verge and freshman Jaelen House.

“Players that have come in, new guys, Alonzo Verge is making a strong impression on everybody in our workouts,” Hurley said. “There were days in our gym where he might have been the best guard I’ve had since I’ve been at ASU, just watching how much he got done in a session, just for how talented he was and the variety of ways he could create and make shots and create plays for his teammates. So I just have high hopes for Alonzo Verge.”

He also believes a healthy Edwards will have a strong 2019-20 campaign after battling back problems the last couple of seasons.

With all of the players who are expected to perform exceptionally, Hurley said this isn’t any one player’s team, rather a collective effort.

“I don’t get into like whose team it is,” he said. “I’m not like that type of coach where I declare someone is in charge of the team. It’s more a group effort, collaborative effort. I think the best teams I’ve had have been dangerous at multiple positions.

“I think Remy certainly has earned the right to have a strong voice in the locker room because of what he’s accomplished on our team and being a guy that’s projected to be an all-league player coming in. He set a good tone in our offseason training program for how hard he’s worked, and it’s a good example coming into the program about how we operate.”

Last season Martin set career highs in points per game (13.0), assists per game (5.1) and total minutes (771) despite playing in nine less games than the season prior.

The Sun Devils are set to play Colorado in Shanghai, China on November 8, before officially opening their season at home against Central Connecticut State.

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