ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

Bobby Hurley, ASU basketball hope to gain rhythm after COVID-19

Jan 13, 2022, 11:10 AM | Updated: 6:34 pm
Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts during the first half of the NCAAB g...
Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts during the first half of the NCAAB game against the Arizona Wildcats at Desert Financial Arena on January 21, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona State Sun Devils just want to hoop.

By the time they’re able to tip off Saturday against Colorado, they’ll have played one game since Dec. 19. Their only game action over what will be a 28-day span was a 24-point loss at California.

And lately, head coach Bobby Hurley’s team hasn’t even had the ability to practice with Hurley joining multiple players in COVID-19 protocols.

“It’s been a rough stretch for sure,” Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday. We had a suspected COVID case going into the Cal game (Jan. 2) but it was a negative at the time that eventually turned positive, which put the rest of the group into contact tracing.

“We had a substantial number of positives, including myself, which was a tough period of time. Had a couple of days where I was really not feeling well. This is my first experience with it. To get a taste with that, I would not recommend it.”

Hurley said that while the majority of his players were asymptomatic with the virus, he wasn’t so fortunate. The head coach was isolated for 10 days and just returned to practice on Wednesday.

It’s now a quick turnaround for players returning to action under their head coach.

“It’s just been pretty tough to put it all together,” Hurley said, who said he hopes his team can find a rhythm starting this week.

Before the string of bad luck, ASU (5-8) had found something.

It won at Oregon, against Grand Canyon in Tempe and then at Creighton before that Dec. 19 loss to San Francisco, which sits at 14-2.

Arizona State canceled a game against Florida A&M on Dec. 21 because of power issues at Desert Financial Arena. A visit to face top-10 squads UCLA and USC on New Year’s weekend got pushed back because of COVID-19 cases within the Los Angeles schools.

And then, a Jan. 5 rescheduled game with the Bruins and a Saturday hosting of rival Arizona were pushed back because of ASU’s case count.

Hurley has tried to remain positive for his players. He’s pointed to the gritty wins at Oregon and Creighton as evidence his team had found something before the near-month of hardly hooping.

Because ASU is not the only team that doesn’t know where it stands in the hierarchy of the Pac-12, it’s not hard to find motivation.

“Clearly, Arizona, UCLA and USC have kind of separated themselves … so there’s a lot up in the air after those three schools,” Hurley said. “So I think there’s a lot to play for. That was kind of the message (to the Sun Devils).

“We know that we can if we defend, we’ve had some signature wins at Creighton and at Oregon. We know we can compete at that level if we play the right way and play together.”

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