With Bobby Hurley on board, there is genuine excitement around Arizona State basketball

Apr 10, 2015, 2:33 PM | Updated: 4:26 pm
Follow @Vincemarotta...

Just when it looked like the Arizona State men’s basketball head coaching search was headed south, the school announced the hiring of Bobby Hurley Thursday.

The former Duke point guard and Buffalo head coach is a nice Plan B for Ray Anderson and Arizona State.

Anderson was patient with his apparent first choice, Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel. Two full weeks passed between the firing of Herb Sendek and the end of Duke’s season, which ended in a fifth national championship Monday night.

Capel realized he didn’t want to leave Duke and kept ASU hanging for two weeks before sharing that realization.

That’s OK. I like this hiring better.

There are many similarities between Hurley and Capel. They both played under legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. They both have fathers who have been successful head coaches.

But the biggest difference between Hurley and Capel is experience. Although he’s three years younger than Hurley, Capel has nine years of college head coaching experience on his résumé after guiding VCU and Oklahoma to NCAA Tournament bids. Hurley has two years of experience as a head coach and only five years as a college coach total.

Looking at the above paragraph, you’d probably come to the conclusion that Capel would have been a better, safer choice for Anderson. That’s not necessarily the case.

That’s because unlike Capel, Hurley hasn’t failed at the major college level. After his Oklahoma team featuring Blake Griffin reached the Elite Eight in 2009, the Sooners fizzled out the next two years, going 27-36. Capel was fired. Critics cited his failure to reload the roster after Griffin’s departure to the NBA following his sophomore season.

That sounds familiar, doesn’t it ASU fans? There were plenty of critics who attacked former ASU head coach Herb Sendek for the same reason. Yes, Sendek got James Harden to Tempe for two memorable seasons. But once he left for the NBA in 2010, there wasn’t another blue-chip recruit waiting.

Sustainable success has been hard to achieve at ASU, just as it was difficult for Capel to accomplish at Oklahoma.

In 2013, Hurley took over a Buffalo program that had zero history. It had never been to the “Big Dance.” As far as I can tell, it had produced exactly one NBA player — Sam Pellom — and he retired in 1983. In just two years, Hurley guided the Bulls to a MAC championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance.

His career trajectory is heading in the right direction. He’s a big name in the world of college basketball. While 18-year-old recruits don’t have memories of Hurley’s maestro-like point guard play for Duke in the early 90s, their parents sure do. And it’s pretty hard not to notice a guy who’s wearing two championship rings when you shake his hand, isn’t it?

That’s not to say that Hurley’s arrival in the desert will automatically elevate the Sun Devil program to new heights. The reality is, there is a lot of work to be done, especially in the areas of recruiting and marketing. But the 43-year-old seems to be just the type of guy who can roll up his sleeves and get dirty doing what needs to be done.

I’m genuinely excited for the future of Arizona State basketball. It’s the first time I’ve been able to say that in a long time.

Arizona State Basketball

Arizona State guard DJ Horne (0) drives against Oregon during an NCAA college basketball game in Eu...
Kevin Zimmerman

Hurley hopes ASU’s bounceback from WSU loss sparks confidence

Bobby Hurley admits his squad was vulnerable after that losing skid extended to five games with a 51-29 loss to Washington State.
23 hours ago
Arizona State celebrates beating Oregon 69-67 in an NCAA college basketball game in Eugene, Ore., S...
Associated Press

Arizona State hits late 3 in overtime, beats Oregon on road

Jay Heath hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime and Arizona State beat Oregon 69-67 on Sunday night to snap a five-game skid.
2 days ago
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley talks to center Enoch Boakye during the first half of the team's N...
Kellan Olson

Arizona State scores record-low 29 points in loss to Washington State

Arizona State's start to Pac-12 play after a 2-5 start to the season did not provide much optimism for the rest of the season.
7 days ago
Ike Diogu #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils looks on against the UCLA Bruins during their NCAA gam...
Arizona Sports

Ike Diogu’s jersey will be raised in rafters by Arizona State basketball

Ike Diogu will have his jersey number put in the Desert Financial Arena rafters by the Sun Devils when his college team faces Colorado.
7 days ago
In a photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, Arizona State forward Jalen Graham (2) is defended ...
Nicholas Hodell

ASU basketball leaving Bahamas failures behind ahead of first Pac-12 games

The Sun Devils, coming off of three losses in three days, have no time to dwell on their shortcomings with Pac-12 play beginning this week.
8 days ago
Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, left, and Senior Associate Commissioner Teresa Gould speak du...
Associated Press

Pac-12, alliance partners form mental health initiative

The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 launched an initiative Monday to raise awareness of the importance of mental health.
9 days ago
With Bobby Hurley on board, there is genuine excitement around Arizona State basketball