Hurley, Sun Devils ready for start of new era
TEMPE, Ariz. — When Arizona State hosts Sacramento State Friday for its season opener, new head coach Bobby Hurley will be trying to impress one particular fan.
"I’m trying to get a win for my dad, who’s 0-for-2 when he comes to watch me play," Hurley said. "I’ll try not to look at him during the game, because I would always feel like he might be evaluating me, even as the game is going on because of what he’s accomplished as a coach."
Hurley’s father, Bob Hurley Sr., is the legendary high school coach at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, New Jersey. Hurley Sr. was only the third high school coach to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and has won over 1,000 games.
"Hopefully, I don’t lock in on where he is," Hurley joked. "I can just maybe talk (with him) after the game on some decisions I made during the game that I can improve on as a coach."
The Sun Devils are coming off a 102-34 dismantling of Western New Mexico in an exhibition game Saturday.
"I like the fact that it was a dress rehearsal for Friday," Hurley said. "We worked on our game preparation. We got to play in front of a crowd with officials and in a real game atmosphere. I think that that in some ways can limit the nerves that the players might feel on Friday with the first game."
Junior forward Savon Goodman missed the exhibition game due to a stress reaction in his right foot. Goodman is one of the team’s top returners. He averaged 11.2 points and 7.6 rebounds last season.
"Savon looked very good (on Sunday). We didn’t go extremely long coming off of the exhibition game, but he got good reps. He was moving very well and pain free," Hurley said. "He should be ready to roll."
The Sun Devils also return three other starters in guards Tra Holder and Gerry Blakes and center Eric Jacobsen.
"A lot of work has been put in since July in the gym with the guys," Hurley said. "(I’m) excited about where the season could take us, and just very optimistic."
Holder made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team last season and Hurley said he likes what he’s seen from him so far.
"Tra’s got a really good demeanor out there right now. He’s running the team. I have a lot of confidence when the ball is in his hands," Hurley said. "He’s showing his creativity. He’s getting in the lane and making plays."
Jacobsen has been with the team longer than anyone else. Hurley said the 6-foot-10 senior has developed into a leader for the younger guys.
"He’s got great maturity about him," Hurley said. "He’s worked as hard as any guy in the program since I got here, in terms of just changing his body and leaning out a little more – understanding that we’re looking to try and play a little quicker."
One of the newcomers that has impressed Hurley the most is junior college transfer Andre Spight.
"He’s playing more on instinct, and that’s why he’s been so good for us like the last 10 days," Hurley said. "With his efficiency, his shot making, and his ability to create, he’s a definite threat when he’s out here."
Hurley did not mince words when asked about his team’s potential. He said this team has what it takes to make a postseason run.
"Based on what I know about basketball and what I’ve seen in college basketball and what I’ve coached, I think this is a team that could be in contention for (the) postseason," Hurley said.