Opinion: Bobby Hurley is the right coach to lead ASU to success

The Sun Devils will continue to thrive under Hurley's tutelage

It’s been a rollercoaster season for head coach Bobby Hurley and ASU men’s basketball.

After starting the season unranked and skyrocketing to the No. 3 ranking in the country, the Sun Devils fell down to earth and out of the AP top 25 over the course of January and early February. 

Despite rocky conference play, the team is back in the top 25, and its performance has translated to a well-deserved five-year extension for head coach Hurley that will run his contract through 2023. 

Hurley is the right man for the job, too. 

After leaving the University of Buffalo to take the head coaching job at ASU, Hurley brought with him current ASU senior guard Shannon Evans II, who has played a key role for the Sun Devils this season. He and fellow senior guards Tra Holder and Kodi Justice help run and ignite the ASU offense that has been so electric at times this season.

Bringing Evans II from Buffalo helped Hurley connect with the players. 

“It helped to bring in Shannon Evans II because of their experience at Buffalo,” Anthony Totri, men’s basketball beat reporter at The State Press, said. “(It helped establish) the locker room culture when he wasn’t there. (It shows) how strong and accepting the players are of the culture and mentality Bobby brings on a daily basis.”

Hurley is a very passionate coach. He is known to receive his fair share of technical fouls, although he has been able to keep his emotions in check for most of the current season. 

In one of the more memorable coaching ejections of the 2015-16 basketball season, Hurley was ejected after receiving two different technical fouls in a matter of seconds against UA for arguing calls with the referees. 

“He has a fiery attitude,” Totri said. “You can see it on the court. Unlike any college coach I’ve seen, he’s always complaining about something. He’s willing to fight for his players. He’s not always going to go with the grain, but he’ll always support his players.”

Such intensity makes players that much more likely to play hard for a coach. If they know their coach is going to stand up for them and fight on their behalf, they’ll play with the same fire and intensity said coach displays. 

ASU has responded this season and played much better than they have in the past. 

The team’s 19 wins, as of Feb. 14, are already four more than Hurley’s previous highs in either of the past two seasons, and there are still five regular season games remaining.

Upon the conclusion of this year, ASU will be losing its three senior guards, Evans, Holder and Justice, which will force Hurley to reconfigure his lineups and rotations and make other players step up to fill the voids, but Hurley isn't without options.

Freshman guard Remy Martin appears to be a big part of the Sun Devil program moving forward, and Hurley has done a solid job with recent recruiting. Five-star recruit Taeshon Cherry verbally committed to ASU last month, and two other four-star recruits have already signed. 

ASU’s 12-0 start to the season caught national eyes, and high school players notice things like that. It helps when fan bases help persuade players, as well.

“When the entire fan base is showing up in waves chanting, ‘we want Cherry,’ it’s a pretty nice thing for these (top recruits) to be wanted by a winning program,” Totri said.

It’s unclear how well ASU will perform after this season with so much talent leaving the roster, but Hurley has helped set the program up for success in the very near future. 

“(The extension is) a message to fans and players that we’re winning now and this isn’t a building process anymore,” Totri said. "They can win at a nationally competitive rate.”

With the current talent on the roster and players he has coming in, Hurley is going to do great things for ASU men's basketball over the next five years.


Reach the columnist at Steven.Slobodzian@asu.edu or follow @PSlobodzianASU on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. 

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.