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The Bobby Hurley Experiment at Arizona State Needs to End

The Green Bay Packers have scored more than 29 points in four of their games this NFL season. In today’s NFL, scoring 29 points in a game is almost normal for many teams. However, 29 points in a college basketball game is just straight-up embarrassing. Last night, the Arizona State Sun Devils took on Washington State in a college basketball game in Arizona. I won’t get into the ins and outs of the game, but the final score was 51-29 in favor of the visiting squad. Yes, you read that correctly. The Sun Devils only scored 29 points in a 40-minute college basketball game, and one has to ask how much blame head coach Bobby Hurley deserves.

Overall, the game was ugly. Each team turned the ball over 15 times and shot a combined 26% from the field. On top of that, Arizona State was out-rebounded, 53-29. It was a bad game all-around, but it’s not something we’ve come to expect from the legendary Duke guard. However, things have not gone well for the St. Anthony’s product this season.

The Sun Devils are now 2-6 and face a huge test on Sunday at Oregon. Both of the Sun Devils wins this year were against far inferior teams, in Portland and North Florida. So, how did we get here with Bobby Hurley?

Great Start in Buffalo for Bobby Hurley

In 2010, Hurley decided to join the Wagner coaching staff, which was headed by his brother Dan. After that, in 2012, both of the Hurley brothers took jobs with Rhode Island. However, the best move made by Bobby Hurley came in 2013 when he was named the head coach at Buffalo. In his first season in Buffalo, the Bulls went 19-10 and 13-5 in MAC play to earn the third seed in the MAC Tournament. After their automatic bye into the quarterfinals, they lost to Eastern Michigan to take them out of their NCAA Tournament chase.

The next year, in 2014-15, Hurley and Buffalo really started to impress some people in the media. They played tough against the top team in the country, Kentucky, but eventually lost. However, their early-season schedule proved vital, as the Bulls would cruise to a 12-6 record in the MAC and got the first seed in the MAC Tournament. This time around, they won the tournament and clinched a birth to the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, the Bulls lost in the first round to West Virginia. After the season, Hurley would take the job at Arizona State.

bobby hurley arizona state
Credit: Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star

Rocky Start in Tempe

When Hurley took the job in 2015, the Sun Devils would proceed to go 30-35 through his first two seasons. After the season, many around the media were saying he had a thin line to keep his job. However, he seemed to have it all turned around in 2017. That year, Arizona State went 20-12 and earned a birth in the NCAA Tournament. Well, kind of. They were selected to play in the First Four against Syracuse. It was a tightly-contested game, but Syracuse pulled away and got the win.

In 2018-19, he had his best season so far at Arizona State. The team went 23-11 and finished second in the Pac-12. However, all the work they put in during the season did not pay off in the end. They were once again selected to play in the First Four, but this time they beat St. John’s, 74-65. Their run wouldn’t last much longer, however, they would lose in the next game to, ironically enough, Hurley’s old team, Buffalo. From there, things started going downhill.

There was no tournament played in 2020, which was a big blow to Hurley and his team, coming off of another 20-win season. On top of that, Hurley had recruited a nice group of freshmen to play in Tempe. He brought in two ESPN top-100 recruits, in four stars Jaelen House and Jalen Graham. However, the leader and best player on the team was point guard Remy Martin. He struggled through injuries at times, but he still averaged 12.9 points per game that season.

Beginning of the End

Martin had an interesting timeline from the end of the 2019 season until now, as he is now with the Kansas Jayhawks. He declared for the NBA Draft after the disastrous 2020-21 season. The Sun Devils went 11-14 and 7-10 in Pac-12 play. Hurley was pretty much given a pass for last year’s horrible season because of the ongoing COVID pandemic. However, the higher-ups at Arizona State should have taken a better look at the 2020-21 season.

Before the 2020 season, Hurley signed Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley, two five-star recruits. Those two joined Martin in what should have been a very good Arizona State basketball team. They started off the season 4-1, with their only loss coming to third-ranked Villanova. However, after beating Grand Canyon in a non-conference game, the Sun Devils went on to lose six straight, with only one loss coming outside of conference play. They would go 6-5 in their last 11 games and earned the eighth seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. They won their first game, then they lost to Oregon to end their season.

Should Bobby Hurley Be Fired?

Coming into this season, Arizona State was kind of flying under the radar. They had lost Martin, who transferred to Kansas, and seven other players also transferred, which is not a good sign for your program. Bobby Hurley also brought in an underwhelming recruiting class this season. He brought in three four-stars this season, but late in the recruiting process, he picked up a huge commitment from ESPN top-30 recruit, big man Enoch Boakye. However, none of those players have done much to improve the season for the Sun Devils.

After a season-opening win versus Portland, the Sun Devils lost the next game to UC-Riverside, 66-65. However, they would bounce back to beat North Florida in the next game. Since then, they have not won a game. They’ve now lost five straight by an average score of 72-59. Last night was just the cherry on top of what has been a miserable start to the season for Arizona State. Not to mention, Hurley was crushed online by multiple media members.

Now, the question of firing should be an easy one, at least in my opinion. You have to let the guy go. He has only one NBA Draft pick in his time at Arizona State. On top of that, they have never gotten past the first round of the NCAA Tournament under Hurley.

Listen, the Hurley name will always be legendary. I mean, his dad was likely the greatest high school basketball coach of all time. However, now it’s fair to say he’s a bit out of his league and either needs to get another job at a lower level or go back to selling and owning thoroughbreds like he did before he got into coaching. The man had a great college career, albeit at a terrible university, but still, he’s a college basketball icon. However, as we often find out with some of the best players, they just aren’t the best coaches.

Unfortunately for Arizona State and Bobby Hurley himself, the best move for both of these parties is to part ways.


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