Bobby Hurley: “We’re gonna compete for championships”

TEMPE, Ariz. – Bobby Hurley is ready to hit the ground running, now that he’s the man leading the Arizona State men’s basketball program.

“The objective is pretty clear: We have a lot of work to do and it gets done behind closed doors when there aren’t cameras in front of you,” Hurley said. “We’re gonna do it at a very high level here. The vision is clear: We want to bring in kids with high character, that are gonna work hard, that are gonna develop in our program, and that are gonna get their education and we’re gonna compete for championships. Pac-12 championships and we want to go to Final Fours.”

As head coach of the Buffalo Bulls, Hurley and his players got a chance to face two Final Four teams – Kentucky and Wisconsin – along with taking his team to their first ever NCAA Tournament, where they lost to West Virginia in the first round.

It’s hard to face bigger challenges than that as a head coach, but Hurley is ready for his new challenge as head coach of the Sun Devils.

“When I was playing in those types of games, the feeling that I had to be in those games and compete against those teams was something that really drove me,” Hurley said. “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 will forever go down in NCAA basketball history as being one of the best point guards to ever play the game. He’s the NCAA’s all-time leader in assists, and he won back-to-back national titles with the Duke Blue Devils. No one ever questioned Hurley’s heart and desire to win when he played. Hurley says he’s bringing that same blue collar mentality to Tempe, Ariz.

“I have a blue collar background with my upbringing. Nothing has really ever come easy to me. People have always doubted my career as a player. They never expected me to take it as far as I took it,” Hurley said. “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.”

“My expectations and what other people’s expectations are are a little different,” Hurley said. “Hopefully we’ll get on the same page with the guys and get that done.”

Hurley is planning on bringing that tough-nosed approach to Arizona State, and instill that in his players. He’s looking for toughness on defense and for his guys to be unselfish on the offensive end.

“A lot of it is a combination really of my experiences playing at Duke and how we played, and also the influences of my brother [head coach Dan Hurley] at Rhode Island,” Hurley said. “It’s a very aggressive style of man defense. 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.”

“In addition, everyone has to play unselfishly on offense. That’s one of the things that we preach and talk about,” Hurley said. “I think it’s a fun style to watch [that] people would enjoy watching. I think our fans in Buffalo enjoyed how we played. We’ll work with the guys to play in a similar way.”

Going along with those questions and doubts about Hurley and his level of coaching experience is his ability to recruit on the West Coast, being that he’s an East Coast guy at heart, born and raised in New Jersey. One of the things that will help him in his recruiting in Arizona and California is retaining assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Stan Johnson, which Hurley announced that he’s doing.

“Stan [Johnson] has great connections, great ties, great relationships with the players,” Hurley said. “Had several great conversations with him. I feel very comfortable with him. I think he’s going to do a great job for the program.”

Hurley’s well aware of his name and the status that it brings when he gets on the phone and makes calls, or when he goes to a recruit’s home and meets with him and his parents. Even with the last name Hurley, and what he did at Duke on his side, along with the legendary status of his father Bob Hurley, Sr., people wondered if he could recruit the Midwest when he was at Buffalo, with all his East Coast ties. Evidently he did a good job because he led the Bulls to their first ever MAC Conference title and the NCAA Tournament last season.

That’s all well and good for the fine people of Buffalo, N.Y., but the fine people in Tempe, Ariz., want to see Hurley do the same and more with their basketball team.

“It’s gonna take hard work and a lot of phone calls and just having a great staff,” Hurley said. “I had a tremendous staff at Buffalo with Levi Watkins, and Nate Oats, and Ben Wood, and we all worked terrific together, and those guys did a phenomenal job and we’ll continue to build it out here.”

“We’re gonna recruit nationally as well. We’re not gonna just limit ourselves to any areas of the country,” Hurley said.

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