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Opinion: It’s not all Bobby Hurley's fault

Men's basketball head coach Bobby Hurley deserves some blame for the team's struggles, but COVID-19 plays a huge factor too


ASU men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley expresses his frustrations towards the referees during his team's game against the Portland Pilots at Desert Financial Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. ASU won 76-60.

This season has definitely not lived up to the hype for ASU men's basketball. Currently, the Sun Devils are 6-12 and sit in ninth place in the Pac 12. 

Many people look to Bobby Hurley as the sole problem of this team when in reality, that's not really the case. Should Hurley take some blame for this lackluster season? Absolutely. Should he be looked at as the only problem? Absolutely not. 

COVID-19 has impacted everybody, but it had a very specific effect on the Sun Devil basketball team.

The Sun Devils looked like they were finding a rhythm in early December 2021 when they beat Oregon in overtime, then the  GCU team, and finally Creighton. 

But the Sun Devils soon after lost to San Francisco's team by only one point. From then on, I don't necessarily put the blame on Hurley.

The team's next three games were canceled due to circumstances outside of any team's control. Specifically, ASU's two meetings with USC and UCLA were postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. 

After their trip to face Cal, where they ultimately lost by 24 points, ASU traveled back to Tempe, where mayhem broke loose. 

According to Coach Hurley in a press conference on Jan. 14, "the whole program basically was shut down from Monday till Friday in a quarantine situation. We tested the whole program on Thursday and that's where we had a number of positive cases." 

The Sun Devils went an entire month only playing one game. This is where I place the blame, not on Hurley.

According to Frank LoVecchio, a current COVID-19 researcher and former emergency medicine physician, the virus spreading among a team seems inevitable because of the nature of virus — in that it can spread by just breathing someone else's air.

"If (we) are close together, (we're) playing basketball, we're covering each other, we're gonna be breathing harder and exchanging air or catching something that was in your air," LoVecchio said. "So it's almost inevitable that for people in small quarters, people on a team, that it's gonna spread through the team pretty quickly. I mean what else could you have done?"

Hurley and his players were decimated by COVID-19. In his press conference before the Jan. 15 Colorado game, he said he was, "able to gradually feel better and each day I'm feeling better and have more energy, but it definitely, definitely hit me pretty good."

Hurley is in a constant state of limbo as to who is on his roster whenever he is making his starting lineup.  

Hurley had a chance to get the Sun Devils to the NCAA tournament in 2020 before the tournament was put on hold, and after that, life as we know it has changed for all of us. 

Give Bobby Hurley until the end of the season, and if he can battle through the injuries and illness, he should be back next season. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @JeffreyHinkle_ on Twitter. 

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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.

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