ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

Non-conference games allow Hurley, ASU to get better look at themselves

Dec 15, 2020, 1:13 PM | Updated: 1:17 pm
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, right, gestures while talking with an official during the second ...

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, right, gestures while talking with an official during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against California in Berkeley, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

One of Arizona State men’s basketball head coach Bobby Hurley’s goals is to always help his players develop, grow and keep working toward becoming a better team.

That’s why, when creating season schedules, the coach looks for non-conference games against high-quality opponents to challenge the Sun Devils in different ways.

“You try and create these good non-conference matchups to kind of simulate what its like to play an NCAA tournament team early in the year and also it shows you where you’re at,” Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Doug and Wolf on Tuesday.

ASU (4-2) got a taste of that challenge this past week, with an 80-68 loss to now-No. 18 San Diego State and a narrow 71-70 win over Grand Canyon University.

“You get exposed if you’re not good at a particular thing when you’re playing against a quality opponent like that,” Hurley said. “That’s been our philosophy with scheduling.”

Against San Diego, what was exposed to Hurley was the need for the team to trust the offense.

“At times certainly we have tremendous team speed and quickness to get out in the open court and score quickly and we’ve shown that we can turn teams over. … But if we’re in a half court game, we have to run offense,” he said. “We can’t break the offense and take a quick shot or have a poor turnover so that’s effected us the last two games. I don’t think we’ve played up to our potential.”

ASU hoops is 8-2 in non-conference road games under Hurley, and star Remy Martin’s most career points in a game have come against a non-conference opponent: 33 points against Princeton in November 2019.

But why play a mid-range school like GCU when looking for a high-powered matchup? Hurley said not to underestimate what can be learned in games like that one.

“GCU has been a program that has been surging,” he said. “They get tremendous support for their men’s basketball program. We thought it was a cool thing to begin locally and getting some of the political stuff out of the way, kind of paved the way for this beginning to happen.

“We’ve had a track record for wanting to play mid-major programs. Last year we went to Princeton to play and this year was GCU. So we hope to give more of the mid-majors a chance and not only limit ourselves to playing high-major programs.”

No matter the outcome, every game is a learning experience. After the crushing loss to San Diego, the team spent three hours watching film and understand how to better their game.

“We challenge our guys, we confront them on all these things and hope that we make the necessary adjustments,” Hurley said.

ASU’s next non-conference matchup comes at home Wednesday against University of Texas-El Paso. Catch all the action live on ESPN 620 AM. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

Arizona State Basketball

Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats high fives Azuolas Tubelis #10 after a three-point sh...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Wildcats just outside AP preseason men’s basketball poll

The Arizona Wildcats garnered 26 points in the preseason men's basketball Associated Press poll for 2021-22.
9 days ago
Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin, left, speaks next to Azuolas Tubelis during Pac-12 Conference men's N...
Nicholas Hodell

CBS’s Norlander ranks Arizona basketball in top 30, ASU in top 100

CBS Sports senior writer Matt Norlander is higher than most on Arizona basketball, putting the Wildcats in 29th in his preseason rankings.
11 days ago
Arizona guard Dalen Terry (4) drives between Arizona State's Josh Christopher (13), Jalen Graham (2...
Arizona Sports

Arizona picked in top 5, ASU No. 7 in Pac-12 preseason hoops poll

In the Pac-12 preseason basketball poll, Arizona was picked tied for fourth while Arizona State was picked to finish No. 7.
15 days ago
Arizona State forward Marcus Bagley celebrates during the second half of the team's NCAA college ba...
Nicholas Hodell

ASU basketball fresh faces bring effort, communication alongside returning vets

New faces, extra effort and teamwide communication has Arizona State men's basketball looking for a fresh start.
22 days ago
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley talks to Marcus Bagley during the first half of the team's NCAA co...
Arizona Sports

Arizona State-Arizona featured in Pac-12 men’s hoops TV schedule

The Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats will be featured in the Pac-12's national TV slate for the 2021-22 men's basketball season.
29 days ago
Follow @AZSports...
Arizona Sports

Pac-12 and SWAC form 1st basketball series between Power 5, HBCUs

The Pac-12 and the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) are forming a basketball educational and scheduling partnership.
1 month ago
Non-conference games allow Hurley, ASU to get better look at themselves