ASU’s Bobby Hurley: We’re still searching, trying to find an identity
With the opening week of the 2020-21 college basketball season almost in the books, the No. 25 Arizona State Sun Devils find themselves with a 2-1 record.
ASU opened the campaign with a 94-88 win over Rhode Island in the Empire Classic before losing to Villanova 83-74 in the tournament’s championship game.
The Sun Devils then returned home to Tempe for their first contest at Desert Financial Arena, a 100-77 victory over Houston Baptist.
“I think from the standpoint of giving our new players an opportunity to compete against some high-level competition very early, get their feet under them, it was successful,” Hurley said of the Empire Classic on Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday.
“Of course when you have a chance to play one of the better teams in the country in a high-profile game, you’re trying to get a victory, we just didn’t do enough things against a team of that quality within that game to have the outcome that we were looking for.”
Hurley added that he didn’t feel like there was a huge difference between Arizona State and Villanova player-for-player.
However, the head coach did mention the Wildcats’ cohesiveness as a team as a causing factor in the Sun Devils’ only loss on the season.
“[Villanova] felt like a well-oiled machine in that game,” Hurley said. “Whereas we’re still searching a little bit, still trying to find an identity, still learning to play together.”
The head coach also pointed out ASU’s poor defense and rebounding in the following film session, which Hurley says is almost like therapy after a loss.
“As you go through a loss and you’re kind of in the mourning process of losing, you have to get it out of your system,” Hurley said. “We confront everything and look at the mistakes that were made.”
Leading the Sun Devils on the court is senior point guard Remy Martin, who draws a lot of similarities to his head coach during his playing days.
Hurley — who won back-to-back national championships with Duke in 1991-92 — also stayed all four years in college as an undersized point guard.
The former Blue Devil played with the likes of Christian Laettner, who was arguably the face of Duke basketball at the time.
And not to compare Laettner to freshmen Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley, but Martin — just as his head coach did with the former 1992 Olympic Dream Team member — has had no trouble getting the new guys involved in the offense right out of the gate.
“He’s not threatened by the success of others and you can see it in by how he’s playing. He’s really focused on distributing the basketball and getting his teammates involved,” Hurley said of Martin.
“Down the stretch, he’s proven that he can make plays in big games and close teams out. I think he’s got a really good approach to what he’s doing right now. He’s told the team that he’s not about statistics and scoring. He’s already been one of the top scorers in the Pac-12, he doesn’t have to prove that again. He just wants to win and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win.”