Hurley ready to get started at ASU

Bobby Hurley has set high expectations for Arizona State as he takes over the program with a goal of remaking it in his image.

At the Friday morning press conference announcing his hire as Arizona State's men's basketball coach, Bobby Hurley said he knows this task won't be easy, but nothing in his basketball career has been to this point.

"It's a blue collar mentality," said Hurley, a legendary former Duke point guard who takes over at ASU after two years as the head coach at Buffalo. "I have a blue collar background with my upbringing, and nothing ever, nothing has really ever come easy to me. People have really always doubted my career. As a player, they never expected I would take it as far as I took it. There were questions about my experience coming into Buffalo, and in two years, we won a conference title for the first time in school history. That's with a team that was projected to finish fourth in its division last year.

"My expectations and what other people's expectations are, are a little different, and hopefully we'll get on the same page with the guys and get that done."

Hurley, 43, led Buffalo 23-10 (12-6) record and NCAA Tournament appearance after a 2014-15 Mid-American Conference championship. He went 42-20 in two seasons at the school -- his first head coaching job -- and won the East Division championship in each year and the conference tournament title in 2015.

Though the Bills were set to return four of five starters and be a favorite to win the league and potentially a preseason Top-25 team, Hurley said he couldn't pass up the opportunity to coach the Sun Devils.

"When this opportunity opened up, it was clear to me that this was the place that I wanted to be, just with everything that this university offers: the campus, the practice facility, the conference, it's big-time athletics," Hurley said. "And the objective, it's pretty clear. I mean, we have a lot of work to do, and it gets done behind closed doors when there aren't cameras in front of you, and we are going to do it at a very high level here.

"And the vision is clear: We want to bring in kids with high character that are going to work hard and that are going to develop in our program and that are going to get their education, and that we are going to compete for championships; Pac-12 Championships and we want to go to Final Fours. This is a destination job for me, a place that I want to spend a lot of time and to be a fixture in the community and to be a big part of the success of this whole athletic department."

Hurley's college playing pedigree is almost unmatched in recent decades. Despite being undersized, at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds and relatively unathletic compared with his peers, Hurley captained Duke to consecutive NCAA Tournament titles in 1991 and 1992 and was named Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 1992. Hurley reached the Final Four in three of four seasons, is the NCAA career assist leader with 1,076, and was named a consensus All-American in 1993. Later that year he was taken No. 7 overall in the NBA Draft and had a six year career that was limited following a near-fatal car accident as a rookie.

As a coach, Hurley is much more of an unknown still despite his age due to a late start in the profession. He became an assistant coach under his brother Danny Hurley in 2010 at Wagner and was the associate head coach at Rhode Island in 2012-13 before taking the head job at Buffalo.

"I think I've been exposed to some great things in my basketball life with my experiences at Duke, my time in the NBA, the three great years I spent with my brother, Dan, at Wagner College in Rhode Island," Hurley said. " Everything I've seen has prepared me to provide these guys I think with a great structure to work and develop as basketball players and people."

Hurley has been groomed to play the game from as early as he can remember. His father Bob Sr., who attended the press conference Friday along with Hurley's mother, wife, three kids, brother and other family members, is one of the most legendary high school coaches of all time, with 27 state titles at St. Anthony's in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"It's a very aggressive style man defense," Hurley said, when asked of his basketball philosophy. " I want to put pressure on our opponent but do it in a disciplined way. I'm not the type of coach that typically runs around and traps and then gives up easy baskets. I want defensively our guys to lock down, to force difficult shots, to create some turnovers because teams are just tired of dealing with us at that end of the floor.

"On the flipside, I give my players freedom. We spend a ton of time on skill development and developing guys' games, and I want to put guys in great positions to make plays. You know, this year, we were in the Top-25 in pace of play. It's a style that our players enjoy playing. We led our conference in scoring in conference play this year, and that's because we are going to play fast. I think that style fits in very well in this league. We've got to be in great shape to do it and we've got to work on our games at a high level. I don't know if we got a shot clock violation last year. That's not the type of coach I am. I don't micromanage every dribble, every pass. I like to put my players in great positions on the floor so that they could showcase their creativity."

"In addition, I am the all-time assist leader, so everyone has to play unselfishly on offense. It's one much the things that we preach and talk about, last year's team -- not this past year, but my first year, that team led our league in assists, and was I think in the Top-30 nationally in assists. I think it's a fun style to watch, what people enjoy watching. I think our fans in Buffalo enjoyed how we played, and a lot of that had to do with the players that we brought in the program. Those guys were really good and we'll work with the guys here to play in a similar way."

Notes

  • Hurley announced he would retain Stan Johnson as a holdover assistant from previous coach Herb Sendek's ASU staff. Johnson will be joined on Hurley's staff along with Levi Watkins, who will be coming with Hurley from Buffalo. Watkins was recruited by Sendek to N.C. State in the early 2000s and played in four NCAA Tournaments under Sendek at the school. The third assistant job is unfilled, with Buffalo assistant Nate Oats a leading candidate unless he is given the head coaching job at Buffalo.

  • ASU freshman point guard Tra Holder told SunDevilSource.com he will return to ASU next year to play for ASU and Hurley.

    "He just said he has much to offer me and is going to teach me things to become a better point guard and I'm just ready to get things going and I'm excited that he's our head coach," Holder said. "I got a chance to play for a great coach, in Herb Sendek, and how I get a chance to play for a great coach, in Bobby Hurley."

  • ASU freshman guard Kodi Justice said he's looking forward to playing for Hurley, and is about one month away from being cleared to do be more athletically active as he recovers from surgery to fix a broken bone in his foot suffered during the season.


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