Hurley, Sun Devils Embracing High Expectations

Arizona Sports News online

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Bobby Hurley has never been one to back down from a challenge.

So, when asked during a Zoom session with the media Thursday afternoon what he thought of the other Pac-12 coaches believing Arizona State had the most talent in the conference this season, he answered like a coach who knows this group is special.

“I’m not going to run from expectations.” Hurley said. “The ceiling is limitless this year.”

“Certainly as a coach I don’t know if I’ve had more enthusiasm or been more hopeful…just got a ton of confidence of what I’ve been watching and how the team is coming together,” he said referencing ASU’s off-season workouts. “The fact that I am this optimistic right now I think says a lot.”

There certainly is a lot to be excited about considering the return of star guards Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge, veteran forwards Kimani Lawrence, Jalen Graham and Taeshon Cherry – as well as highly touted incoming freshmen in Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley.

Oh, did we forget to mention a taller, stronger Jaelen House and Ukranian freshman Pavlo Dziuba who is expected to join the squad soon?

“From my standout, what I’m seeing” Hurley continued. “It’s given me every indication that it could be my most talented team, team with the most potential…we want to play the best. We want to be around late in the year playing the best teams and trying to play for a championship, whether it’s Pac-12 or NCAA Championship.”

“Those are things that are on our radar,” he explained. “Those are long-term goals.”

Some of those long-term goals could be accomplished sooner than later if Christopher delivers as advertised.

The early returns have been positive.    

“As advertised,” Hurley said without hesitation of his five-star addition. “His competitive drive is unbelievable. He’s got an amazing skill set offensively. Real charismatic guy. He’s had some really good moments already…he’s a special, special talent. [He] wants to win desperately…he’s the whole package.”

Hurley noted the competitiveness in teams drills when Christopher and Verge have matched up. He’s noticed “a little rivalry there” when the duo have guarded one another.   

As of now, the Sun Devils’ non-conference schedule “is still a blank canvas” according to their head coach but he’s hopeful ASU will participate in the Mohegan Sun to start the season and could face annual heavyweights Baylor and Villanova.

The Devils do have two players missing time due to injury. Sophomore guard Caleb Christopher recently had thumb surgery and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. Also, Lawrence is rehabbing a knee issue which will likely keep him sidelined for three more weeks. 

ASU’s first official practice is scheduled for October 14th.