New faces, roles make ASU basketball offense a ‘work in progress’
Even with the influx of new players, Arizona State men’s basketball head coach Bobby Hurley was surprised at how much his team struggled in its 62-59 win over Tarleton State in the season opener.
ASU lost its share of ugly games last season, so coming away with a victory was a nice first step for the program. That said, the team shot 33.9%, had 21 turnovers and four players committed at least four fouls.
Even in victory, Hurley wasn’t thrilled with his roster’s togetherness.
“Maybe that’s the world we’re facing now, with so many new players, the transfer portal and the impact that has on programs,” Hurley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday. “I thought that we were going to be a little more together as a group in the first game. I didn’t anticipate us struggling the way we did.”
There was certainly an element of surprise to the Sun Devil lineup, as well as the offensive attack. Transfer point guard Frankie Collins made himself at home in Tempe, making more threes on Monday (four) than he made all of last season (three). He also played a career-high 37 minutes, only four fewer than his total through his first four games last season.
ASU’s new point guard wasn’t the only one operating from a new role in Monday’s win. Fifth-year transfer guard Desmond Cambridge came off the bench for the third time in 114 collegiate games. Center Alonzo Gaffney, who started 24 of 30 games a season ago, was pushed to the bench for 7-footer Warren Washington. D.J. Horne had to settle for more off-ball duties.
“We’re still a work in progress, especially on the offensive end,” Hurley said. “I do like like how we competed defensively overall in the game, though.”
Sophomore guard Marcus Bagley returned to regular season action on Monday and, at times, showed his rust. However, he finished with 13 points, had a sequence of consecutive threes in the first half and had what became the game-winner with 15 seconds left.
“It was his first game, really, in a little over a year,” Hurley said. “I anticipate big things from Marcus … As the year progresses and he gets comfortable, his stats will get better and I think he’s a terrific talent.”
ASU is back in action Thursday at 7 p.m. at Desert Financial Arena in Tempe against Northern Arizona. Tune to Arizona Sports 98.7, the Arizona Sports app or ArizonaSports.com to listen.