Rice: Pandemic aside, where has it gone wrong for ASU?

Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils haven't performed up to their own expectations this season

Posted on January 31, 2021

Wills Rice
  By Wills Rice of Dash Sports TV for SportsPac12

Bobby Hurley has been one of the best things to happen to Arizona State Basketball since maybe James Harden. He made the team relevant again, with the Sun Devils competing for NCAA appearances.


The problem is that he has set such a high standard, he could end up failing to meet his own expectations.

Bobby Hurley | Ted S. Warren/AP via arizonasports.com

I would not say Bobby Hurley is any danger of losing his job after this season, given the debilitating effect of the pandemic. The team faced a three-week break in the middle of the season that undoubtedly played a hand in the losing streak.

The Devils lost five in a row, and six of the last seven, before defeating Cal and Stanford last week, which together, represent 100% of ASU’s Conference victories this season. Moreover, ASU  is a late Remy Martin three-pointer against in-state rival Grand Canyon (who did not become a D1 school until 2012) away from losing seven in a row.

That would have made matters considerably worse for Hurley, but the question remains: Where has it all gone wrong?

For starters, Hurley’s team has been terrible out of timeouts. A perfect example is the ending of the Oregon State game. The Sun Devils had a one point lead with :10 seconds to go. The Beavers worked the ball around for 5 seconds, resulting in a wide open dunk with still :04 to go.

The Beavers drew up a play out of a timeout to win the game, seemingly leaving Hurley with nothing to do but ask his players where they wanted to eat after the game. The defense and set plays out of timeouts have been horrid, and are much in need of improvement.

The second biggest issue has been the lack of energy needed to get up for some of these games. Yes, this year has been crazy for students, especially some of these freshmen who had never yet lived the college experience. Granted, it’s a tough ask to build chemistry when two of the Devils best players are freshmen, especially after a three-week break.


But is energy that hard to ask of 19-year-olds?

After suffering a heartbreaking loss to Arizona on their home court, the Sun Devils were blessed with a rematch opportunity the next game. ASU got outscored 40-18 in the first half of the rematch, and losing by just 13 points—do not be deceived—the game was never close.

A rivalry game that had “revenge” written all over it, yet ASU could not muster the energy. That falls on the coaches.


The biggest personnel issue has been Remy Martin. Whether it is coaching or something internal, the star guard has not been playing to his own standards. This may sound cruel, as Martin currently ranks fourth in the Conference in scoring and fifth in assists. But for someone with aspirations of being the best point guard in the country this year,he has been nothing but disappointing.

It is important to note that Martin did declare for the draft last year and returned to the Sun Devils for one last year. Is his head in the right place?


ASU’s expectations were sky high due to two star freshmen, Josh Chrisptoher and Marcus Bagley. Although these players have played well, Christopher likely hasn’t played his way into the lottery of the NBA Draft, as expected in preseason. Christopher was the highest recruit for the Devils since James Harden, and was gifted the #13 by the Beard himself.

If the Sun Devils hope to make a run, and ultimately make the tournament for a 4th year in a row, Christopher and Martin need to make more of a difference.


Lastly, although Jalen Graham has played great as of late, people forget this team had a dominant center last year in Romello White. The center transferred to Ole Miss and has left a huge whole in the defense and rebounding. Many fans have forgotten about the big man, and he could very well be the difference between this team and one that would have found itself in the top 25.

You can watch Rice’s Devil Dash Sports Talk Show on Dash Sports TV, and read his other sports stories and columns at Cronkite Sports.

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