Dayton dash: Hurley trusts resilient ASU ahead of First Four game

Mar 14, 2023, 10:50 AM

Frankie Colllins and Bobby Hurley...

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley, right, and guard Frankie Collins pause near the team bench during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Southern California in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona State men’s basketball relished what it’s accomplished in the immediate moments it learned of a First Four appointment on Selection Sunday.

Head coach Bobby Hurley didn’t even see where the Sun Devils were playing or who before he cannonballed into the pool during the team’s watch party.

“I think I saw our name pop up on the screen and I just totally lost it. We all did,” he told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta a day before ASU faces Nevada in Dayton on Wednesday. “I didn’t know who we were playing, what region we were in, next opponent. I had no idea.”

ASU will face Nevada as a No. 11 seed, with the winner earning the right to play No. 6 seed TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It was tense,” Hurley said of the Selection Sunday wait. “There was some anxiety but we had felt pretty confident about what we had accomplished late in the season. … Just a tribute to our guys, a testament to their resiliency, because I remember us losing at home to Oregon and needing to go to the Bay Area and winning two games — like must-win.

“I told the team that and they responded. Unfortunately, we lost a game to Colorado and told the guys, ‘Hey, we have Utah, we got to win the game’ and we did.”

Arizona State then pulled off one win against a three-game road stretch against the top-three Pac-12 squads, Desmond Cambridge Jr.’s buzzer-beater from 60 feet against Arizona. And then the Sun Devils beat Oregon State and USC in the conference tournament to boost the resume just enough.

Still, it was a nervous time on Sunday.

And after a brief celebration for getting in the NCAA Tournament door, ASU packed quickly for Dayton.

The Sun Devils flew across the country on Monday, dumped their things at a hotel and went through a light non-contact practice.

“Yesterday was like a blur,” Hurley said. “We had to get out of there early in the morning to fly across the country and then to get off the plane and get hit with the shock of 25-degree weather. We gained a greater appreciation for the Arizona weather yesterday.”

But with all that context, Hurley has confidence in his team. ASU has weathered storms and is feeling good about its play heading into Wednesday.

Hurley has led Arizona State to two prior First Four appearances in Dayton, so there’s comfort in doing it again. Two of his players are transfers — center Warren Washington and Cambridge Jr. — who know Nevada’s roster having played for the Wolfpack last year.

Plus, the Sun Devils are pretty healthy, with freshman guard Austin Nunez close to returning after sitting out since Feb. 18 with concussion symptoms.

“We’re really healthy across the board,” Hurley said. “I think yesterday was Austin’s first day in non-contact work. We didn’t do any live work yesterday because the guys were on the plane for four hours and I didn’t want to get anybody hurt two days before a game. But Austin was a full participant in our workout yesterday and is moving pretty well and didn’t seem to have any side effects. He’s getting closer.

“I won’t know for sure if he’s going to be available tomorrow but certainly the way he looked yesterday, I would anticipate he would be available next week.”


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona State Basketball

Jamiya Neal, Sun Devils...

Vincent DeAngelis

Arizona State basketball looking for redemption in rematch with Arizona

Ahead of a rematch on Wednesday, the 45-point loss to No. 6 Arizona less than two weeks ago is fresh on the minds of Arizona State.

22 hours ago

Keshad Johnson of Arizona drives against Washington...

Arizona Sports

Arizona gets dinged in college basketball rankings, Arizona State earns votes

The Arizona Wildcats dipped two spots in The Associated Press college basketball rankings after splitting against the Washington schools.

2 days ago

Washington State guard Myles Rice (2) struggles to get around Arizona State guard Frankie Collins (...

Vincent DeAngelis

Arizona State upsets No. 21 Washington State with a defensive masterclass

Arizona State defeated No. 21 ranked Washington State to snap their two-game losing streak after dominant defensive performance.

4 days ago

Jamiya Neal #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrates with Braelon Green #2 during the second h...

Damon Allred

Frankie Collins, Jamiya Neal lead Arizona State to inspiring start in win over Washington State

ASU came out much more intentionally on Saturday against No. 21 Washington State following two losses, earning a 36-29 halftime lead.

4 days ago

Head coach Bobby Hurley of the Arizona State Sun Devils. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)...

Damon Allred

Arizona State searching for answers after near-comeback against Washington

ASU fell to Washington 84-82 in Tempe on Thursday, nearly accomplishing a historic comeback on an already historic night.

6 days ago

Bobby Hurley...

Arizona Sports

Arizona State erases 25-point deficit to force OT against Washington

Arizona climbs out of a 25-point deficit to force overtime against Washington but comes up just short in overtime.

6 days ago

Dayton dash: Hurley trusts resilient ASU ahead of First Four game