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ASU’s Bobby Hurley: Our goal is to become a complete team

EUGENE, OREGON - JANUARY 11: Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils speaks with his team during the first half against the Oregon Ducks at Matthew Knight Arena on January 11, 2020 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

The Arizona State Sun Devils men’s basketball team is less than a week away from tipping off a long-awaited 2020-21 season.

ASU will begin the campaign on Wednesday against Baylor in the Mohegan Sun tournament in Connecticut, followed by either Villanova or Boston College the very next day on Thanksgiving.

And heading into next week’s season tip-off tournament, the Sun Devils find themselves ranked No. 18 in the AP preseason poll, while Baylor is ranked No. 2 and Villanova comes in at No. 3.

In fact, Arizona State was supposed to be playing at Creighton (No. 11 AP preseason poll) on Friday if it weren’t for the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not an ideal situation to right out of the gate play one of the best teams in the country who’s bringing a core of their team back this year,” head coach Bobby Hurley said via Zoom on Friday.

“But it was our only route to getting games like that on our schedule that we needed and we’re making our final preparations now to head out on Monday.”

One of those preparations is ASU’s starting lineup, which the former Duke Blue Devil said is not going to consist of five guards.

Instead, Hurley wants to try to build a combination of players that makes the most of the Sun Devils’ strengths, which the head coach says is the quantity of high-IQ players ASU has on the perimeter.

“We’re going to need production from Jalen Graham, Chris Osten, Taeshon Cherry and Pavlo (Dziuba) as he gets his feet under him,” Hurley said. “So we’re going to need that interior presence, that rebounding, that shot-blocking at the basket and all the things that you talk about in trying to become a complete team. That’s our goal.

“It’s very early and we’ve had a very unusual offseason, but we have to get it in gear and we have to practice better than we have the last couple of days. So there are some alarms going off a little bit about what we’re doing on the practice floor right now and about our maturity level.”

Hurley then equated his current team to that of someone in the early stages of a romantic relationship in which they like to go out to the movies and have a nice dinner — but are they willing to “commit” to each other?

“Are we willing to put the toilet seat down every time? Are we willing to take the garbage out?” Hurley said of his analogy. “We have to do some of the dirty work too. It’s great when you have a lot of talent and a lot of expectations and a lot of guys with a lot of hype.

“But we have to do a lot of the little things that you have to do in a relationship and that’s what we all are. We’re a team that’s like a living, breathing relationship that needs work every day.”


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