ARIZONA STATE BASKETBALL

Next few weeks could determine Bobby Hurley’s future leading ASU

Feb 24, 2023, 12:11 PM

Three regular-season games against the three teams ahead of the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 standings remain for Arizona State.

Even with relative success against those top-50 teams in the net rankings, ASU probably needs to add a win or two in the Pac-12 Tournament to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.

The backdrop to the team’s performance is that head coach Bobby Hurley does not have a contract that goes beyond the 2023-24 season. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello provided the additional nugget in a hot-seat guide for men’s college basketball that contract extension negotiations have been had between the head coach and ASU.

The assumption even without that knowledge is that Arizona State’s close to 2022-23 could dictate whether an agreement is reached before next season starts.

Hurley understands the stakes of this season are tied to his future.

“I feel like we’re contenders in our league,” he told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “Right now, we’re sitting in fourth place, in the top-tier of the conference. Certainly have some work to do with these games. I think that will determine where we finish.

“I’m not as much looking at my future as I am just trying to do the best I can for my kids. We had a packed house on senior day, there’s a lot of guys who want to play in the NCAA Tournament and it’s going to be hinged on how we finish the next few weeks. That’s all I’m thinking about.”

If not for a COVID-19 postseason cancellation, Hurley likely would have made three March Madness appearances in a row, a rare accomplishment for the ASU program. After two down seasons in the last two years, 2022-23 has lent evidence Hurley has learned how to navigate the transfer portal for good, putting together arguably his best defensive roster and certainly his most versatile.

The offense has just lagged, a change from past Hurley clubs.

The Sun Devils rank 251st in offensive rating (Sports-Reference) and 123rd in KenPom’s adjusted offense. Meanwhile, ASU is 45th in defensive rating and 33rd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive statistic.

A little more pop and more of the same type of defense on the road against Arizona (10th in net ranking) on Saturday, and then UCLA (3rd) and USC (49th) next week could go a long way in securing an NCAA Tournament bid for Arizona State.

And thus, locking in Hurley’s place leading the program.

“I love it here. I’ve said that,” Hurley said. “I’ve had two kids who go to ASU. Arizona feels like home to me even though I’m from the East Coast. I’ve built a life out here. I can’t say what the long-term future looks like.

“I have a ton of energy and passion for what I’m doing. I’m 51 years old, so I think I’m kind of in my prime in terms of my coaching years. I’ve dealt with the transfer portal a couple years now, and NIL, so I have an understanding of it moreso than when it all first played out. I think I’m positioned well to handle all the things that are being thrown at coaches in this new world of college basketball.”

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