ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

ASU coach Bobby Hurley explains ‘whirlwind’ of replacing Baylor game

Nov 24, 2020, 9:42 AM | Updated: 10:00 am
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley applauds the team's lead against UCLA during the second half of an...

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley applauds the team's lead against UCLA during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley thought his Sunday practice and preparation to open the season against the No. 2 Baylor Bears went well.

But later Sunday, news of Baylor coach Scott Drew testing positive for coronavirus led to what the ASU coach called a “whirlwind” over the next 24-plus hours.

“It was a tough Zoom call (with players) because we had a really good practice on Sunday,” Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday. “We were working on things in practice to go against Baylor … that basically hit the scrap heap. I thought my toughest decision on Sunday afternoon was whether I was going to wear a suit on Wednesday or wear a polo and slacks.”

Upon news of Drew’s positive test, Hurley engaged in hours of phone calls with ASU administration and doctors. Those led the Sun Devils to thinking that a Wednesday opener as part of the 2K Empire Classic in Connecticut wouldn’t happen.

“We were not planning on going,” Hurley said. “Within a few minutes, the tournament director proposed another scenario where we would play two games and potentially play Virginia (which lost a game at the same arena when Florida pulled out due to COVID-19 positives). When we got on the plane (Monday), that’s where my mind was at and my thoughts were at.”

Upon further communication with the other two teams in the Empire Classic, Villanova and Boston College, Arizona State found it wasn’t alone. Those teams did not want to face Baylor — or ASU had the Sun Devils played the Bears first.

Ultimately, that’s what pushed Baylor not to travel to Uncasville, Conn.

“It was a really horrible situation,” Hurley said. “I feel for all parties involved. But again, when you look at how the Big 12 is testing right now and how we’re testing, we can’t take that risk and put our student-athletes in jeopardy, potentially. It basically came down to that.”

With that, a second scenario presented itself for the Empire Classic to fill Baylor’s spot and continue with something close to the original plan.

Later Monday, the Sun Devils had a replacement game locked in. Rhode Island had already scheduled games against Stephen F. Austin and Towson and in the same venue, Mohegan Sun Arena.

ASU will now play Rhode Island at 5 p.m. Wednesday and either Boston College or Villanova on Thursday. Winners of the two games will face off, as will the losers.

Arizona State arrived in Connecticut around 8 p.m. Monday night before being tested for COVID-19, Hurley said. As of speaking with Doug & Wolf, the team remained in quarantine awaiting those test results.

Hurley said he’s attempted to remain positive with his players but is focused on keep his players’ urgency alive when it comes to taking preventative measures to steer clear of catching coronavirus.

“It’s just, ‘What’s around the corner?'” he said. “Trying to get away from all the distractions, shelter your team as much as possible and keep them focused.”

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ASU coach Bobby Hurley explains ‘whirlwind’ of replacing Baylor game