The Hunt for a Tourney Bid: Sun Devil Basketball Enters Final 9 Games Tonight Against Wazzu
By Peter Bouloukos,
February 7, 2019 2:40 PM

Right now, Washington and Arizona State are the only two Pac-12 teams predicted to qualify for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Arizona State is one of the “top eight” teams on the bubble along with Ohio State, University of Central Florida, Indiana, Alabama, St. John’s, Florida and Virginia Commonwealth University. Sun Devil Basketball is one of the Top 64 according to current predictions by the experts. Anything could happen!  


Nine regular-season games remain on the schedule for ASU


Creighton, Butler, Seton Hall, San Francisco, Temple, Utah State, St. Mary’s and the University of Arizona are the first eight completely out in no specific order.  All are very capable teams!   

The Bottom line is simple, there is a lot to prove and a ton of basketball yet to play for Bobby Hurley’s squad. Sun Devil Basketball is currently slated as a 10 seed and according to the models would get The University of Cincinnati Bearcats, the 1st place team in the American Conference. 

The 25th ranked Bearcats have some big wins at 19-3 and beat a well-coached Danny Hurley University of Connecticut team in overtime last month and have won seven in a row. With that being said, in the second round, the Arizona State Sun Devils could possibly meet a hot North Carolina Tarheel team. UNC is 12-2 in their last fourteen with only 1 loss in conference play (Louisville). The Tarheels (18-4) are ranked 8th in the nation in the current NCAA poll. 


Luguentz Dort – Photo, Sun Devil Athletics


But that’s looking way ahead. Right now, Bobby Hurley has to guide his team minute by minute, game by game. 

The Washington State Cougars have only beat California in Pac-12 competition this season. They have too many ugly losses to cover here, but that doesn’t mean Arizona State looks past 6’9” 225-pound Cougar Forward Robert Franks and his ability to score. The Cougar senior forward is averaging 21.4 points per game on 51 percent shooting. He can get hot from three-point range as well as score in the post. Ernie Kent, Washington State’s coach, will run different looks at Arizona State and probably use 10 players in various situations on Thursday night. 

Sun Devil Basketball should win this by 20 points based off of our potential and the “eye test.” My prediction is 88-64 ASU. 

What’s next isn’t exactly easy for the Sun Devils (15-6). 

Sun Devil C Romello White

Washington, Utah, Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona all present a minefield of challenges for Bobby Hurley and his ASU squad. I skipped Colorado which waxed Sun Devil Basketball in the Pac-12 tournament last year, and a surging Oregon State Beaver “colony” which the Sun Devils were lucky to dam up in Tempe late last month. Right now, the computers have OSU beating the Sun Devils by the way!


“The highest level of achievement is attained by the teams with the best-conditioned players” – Dr. Jack Ramsay  

I hate to be cliché, but the game of basketball honors toughness. Bobby Hurley ran 1.63 miles of sprints to make a point prior to shoot-around last Thursday! The Sun Devil’s responded with an overtime victory against U of A later that night.

His Sun Devils are all heart, as is Coach Hurley. You have to earn the right to win by playing together with forty minutes of great effort. Listen, nobody in NCAA basketball wants Dort or Remy Martin chasing them 3/4 court for 40 minutes of play. ASU’s defense is tenacious, and Bobby’s team is in top physical shape. But Bobby Hurley’s team is human, and fatigue has cost the Sun Devils games over his tenure.  

The bottom line for Sun Devil Basketball’s post-season rests upon Hurley playing the right guys in the right situations, strong defense and continued solid free-throw shooting. But we can’t count on five guys to swallow up 30 minutes or more during this treacherous stretch in the Pac-12. Cherry, Lawrence, Lake, Shibel, and Valtonen (this kid can play) need to swallow up minutes big or small to spell the starters.

“Over-coaching is the worst thing you can do to a player.” – Dean Smith

Hurley will have to go “X” and “O” in some tight situations throughout the duration of this Sun Devil Men’s Basketball campaign.  I am not suggesting he attempts to control the creative process. The geometry of the game presents a plethora of angles and open spaces a savvy veteran like #11 Bobby Hurley might exploit in any given moment. 


But his young point guards in Luguentz Dort and Remy Martin don’t always see this geometry nor should they.  It takes years of being around great coaches for kids to grasp “geometry” is everything in attack. Sun Devil Coach Bobby Hurley had his father, Bob Hurley Senior, a man who won over 1000 games as a high school coach (and 26 State Championships at St. Anthony’s in New Jersey).

Bobby Hurley attended Duke University where he was under the tutelage of Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski (1,047 career wins to date). Coach K is easily the most respected man in Basketball be it the NCAA or NBA. Coach Robert Hurley Sr. is not far behind having produced over 150 NBA players himself!  

Drawing up plays or working on them in practice will provide the foundation for his young guards to use their inherent gifts, best efforts, and on-time decision making. Attacking the middle of the zone, back screens, pick and rolls, and back cuts along the baseline are all great options that will work against the remaining Pac-12 defenses. Running the offense inside to White and Cheatham, and then back out to an Edwards, Cherry, or Martin for three by simple statistical analysis is smart too! We simply don’t have the consistent shooting to allow the kids to just play as they might, especially at 15-6 in what is considered a weak Pac-12 Conference by pundits.

This Sun Devil Fan is holding on tight down this stretch! Please comment with your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. Make a prediction of where they land!


Sneak peek: Tonight’s Sun Devil Basketball uniforms are 🔥  

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