Victory in Corvallis: Coach Hurley played Jedi Master, Leading young Sun Devils to Win #20
By Peter Bouloukos,
March 5, 2019 3:29 PM

Perhaps it is a modicum of timeless wisdom best immortalized by Yoda in Star Wars, who bestowed upon an impressionable young Luke Skywalker, and by extension, the rest of us fanatics:  “Do or do not, there is no try. That message triggered something extraordinary in Luke, of course, empowering him to harness “The Force” and master his own powerful, talented, and immense internal resources.  

Most of us have yet to realize how relevant and enduring this lesson is in our own lives. But imagine how important it is in application for a young Luguentz Dort, Remy Martin, Romello White, Kimani Lawrence, Taeshon Cherry, and Coach Hurley’s entire Sun Devil team!

Yoda’s Bohemian nomenclature notwithstanding, the message here is clear:  The Sun Devils ability to achieve any singular goal hinges quite mightily upon the belief we “can,” and our tenacious determination that we “will.”  You either decide to do something and immediately begin doing it, or you don’t. No excuses. Moving forward we simply can’t let up.  We have to let go, take risks, and do so within game plans created by Coach Hurley.  

We love saying “we’ll try,” as a way of implying we are agreeing to work on something. But I think, far too often, that’s a cop-out. “Try” is a state of effort without complete intention and commitment!  Generally “trying” turns out to be little more than a weigh station on the highway to inconsistency, erratic play, and ultimate failure.  

Arizona State is far beyond the “try” stage of the season.  The foundation is set. Each unique game plan of Coach Hurley must be mulishly executed upon.  ASU did this on Sunday Night against Oregon State. But in the previous two games against California and Oregon, Arizona State just seemed to show up and do enough to get by.  Going through the motions failed them against the Ducks. Doing the bare minimum does not foster a culture of winning.

When something hasn’t worked immediately, it’s my observation the young Sun Devil guards abandon the plan.  Arizona State defaults to standing around watching their guards pound the rock without purpose. In hoop lore, standing around on offense is called “watching the paint dry.”  

So why do many of us stubbornly attach to toiling away in the “try” state? I suspect part of it is fear of failure and the unknown. Learning how to win is not easy! Taking risks is scary! Frankly, it feels a whole lot safer and more comfortable on the side of our excuses.  We have heard a few of the same excuses in nine Sun Devil Post-Game Press Conferences this campaign.


Sun Devil Squad (Photo, Sun Devil Athletics)


Arizona State University Men’s Basketball Coach Bobby Hurley said he can’t remember the last time his team didn’t watch game film, most specifically after an embarrassing loss to Oregon.  Hurley, who at times has engaged creative strategies to guide his team after each loss, absolutely hit the nail on the head by not dwelling upon the rearview mirror here.

After the Oregon State victory, Coach Hurley said, “Sometimes watching film can be more destructive than constructive doing more damage than good (referring to the loss to the Ducks.)  I thought this might have been one of those cases, so we didn’t.”

Coach Hurley knew Oregon State was going to employ a long Zone Defense.  The Duck game had nothing to do with Sunday night’s match-up in Beaverville.   


Here is How it Went Down:

“Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Jeet Kune Do Master Bruce Lee would tell his young student, NBA Hall of Famer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, to simply “flow like water.”  Now, learning flow or allowing the game to come to him, Luguentz Dort has steadily been breaking down opposing defenses like a Jedi. Luguentz “Lu Skywalker” has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

Flowing like water, Lu was 4-6 from beyond the arc finishing with a team-high 20 points against the Oregon State Beavers.  But here is another very important statistic, Dort got to the free-throw line 12 times connecting on eight of them. His potential is limitless.  



Arizona State faced a tough obstacle against the Oregon State Beavers.  To add to this resistance, the Sun Devils were on the wrong side of a few horrible calls.  ESPNU even went to the “Hurley Cam” to follow the coach as I suggested two months ago.  I want my residuals! Hurley was slapped with a Technical in the second half, and in this case, Coach Bobby absolutely did the right thing.

Sophomore Remy Martin (Photo, Sun Devil Athletics)

Senior Forward De’Quon Lake was called for his fourth foul with 12:26 left to play.  Lake was called for two blocks on a “charging” Tres Tinkle. The second one at 8:28 to go was a blatant offensive charge, and I give Coach Hurley a ton of credit for not blowing his lid.  His young Sun Devils needed Jedi-Master Hurley for 40 minutes tonight. Sophomore Center Romello White also had some tough calls against him and was saddled with four fouls late.

With his lightning quickness, Remy Martin was pressuring OSU Guards constantly. Instinctively in response, the Beavers extended elbows protecting the ball. Remy was called for two quick fouls, one good, one awful.  Coach Hurley had to pick and choose Remy’s spots down the stretch, and he did so like a Kung Fu Sensei. He called timeouts, designed effective offensive sets, and balanced his young squad.

One of Arizona State’s more accurate long-range shooters, Taeshon Cherry, took a Luguentz Dort shoe to the face in the first half and visibly had a tire-mark across his right cheek.  A few minutes later, Taeshon came off the bench to drain a tough 3-pointer, but you could tell his eye was going to swell. Taeshon was in the locker room for the entire second half.

The score was 37-30 after 20 minutes but tonight the Sun Devil swagger was unique.  The statistics might not show it, but Coach Hurley directed his young Arizona State Men’s Basketball team to “share the sugar.”  The Devil’s moved the ball consistently via pass and attacked the middle of the Oregon State defense. The “eye test” at half-time revealed Arizona State was not going to default to bad habits nor allow the Beavers to win.

Oregon State Forward, Tres Tinkle scored 24 points on 7-15 shooting with 6 rebounds. Ethan Thompson narrowly missed a triple-double with 20 points, a career-high 13 rebounds, and 9 assists.  The Beavers had 13 Offensive Rebounds making this two out of three games where a young athletic opposing guard swallowed up a ton of boards against ASU.

The Sun Devils quickly erased a seven-point halftime deficit.  ASU made 6-11 three-point field goals in the second half, shooting 56 percent from the field down the stretch.

Zylan Cheatham had another double-double scoring 12 on an efficient 6-10 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds.  Zylan only registered two assists, but the ASU offense consistently ran through the post and the Senior Sun Devil made great passes ultimately resulting in scores.  Cheatham went strong at 255 lb. 6’11” Gligorije Rakocevic and Junior 7’ Center Kylor Kelly at the right times…flowing like water himself!

The Sun Devils denied Oregon State on Senior Night in Corvallis (Photo, Sun Devil Athletics)


If Luguentz was “Lu Skywalker,” then Remy Martin was “Bruce Lee.”  The numbers can’t possibly describe Remy’s Jeet Kune Do story, but the Sophomore Guard had 13 points on 4-9 shooting.  He hit a clutch 3 pointer with four fouls and finished with 4 assists on 0 turnovers. Just like Cheatham above, Remy’s decision making led to plenty of dribble drives, layups, dunks, and free throw opportunities not visible on the final stat sheet.

In the second half, Arizona State remained poised on offense. Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils truly took care of the ball. They became even more physical on defense.  The Sun Devils turned back Oregon State 74-71 on Gill Coliseums’ Ralph Miller Court. The win secured ASU (20-9, 11-6) the No. 2 seed in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament to be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada beginning March 13, 2019.  

Speaking of Vegas, underdog Arizona State began the day +1 vs Oregon State, but by tip-off, the Sun Devils were +4.5.  Makes you wonder about some of those calls, doesn’t it?

ASU 74 – Oregon State 71

Up next for Arizona State (20-9; 11-6) is a visit with the Wildcats (17-13; 8-9) in Tucson next Saturday, March 9th, 2 pm MST.


The Sun Devils secured Win #20 at Oregon State (Photo, Sun Devil Athletics)


An interesting “Bubble Watch” fact

The Arizona State Sun Devils are the only team in the “Lock,” “Should be in,” and “Work to do” categories while losing games in all four NCAA Quadrants.  As I have said before, “if you don’t feel like you have something to prove, you will never improve or grow as a team.”    

Currently, Arizona State’s NCAA Tournament NET ranking is 68.  We are the last team in the tournament and would have to “play into” the field of 64 like we did last year resulting in a loss to Syracuse.

To put this into perspective, a streaking Oregon has a NET ranking now of 64!  All of the Bracket Pundits were watching ASU play OSU on ESPNU, it was the last game of the night in NCAA Basketball.  

My Advice

Chalk up what worked in the Oregon State victory.  Feel the success, then set another, slightly bigger goal against the Wildcats. Keep in mind both the feeling of winning and the feeling of losing are contagious. Don’t make the mistake of tolerating negative thoughts about the Oregon Ducks!  Don’t dwell on the 68 NET ranking either. Simply stated, sweep the Wildcats and move onto the Pac-12 Tournament and win again! The only statistic that matters in March is winning games.

Remember, half-hearted “trying” no longer exists in the vocabulary of Sun Devil Men’s Basketball!  Instead, take Yoda’s advice and simply decide to “do.” We have talked about realizing potential all season long, and I think Coach Hurley will channel lessons like a Jedi Master to his young Padawan Learners harvesting fantastic results.  

ASU needs to win in Tucson, and any DieHard Devil fan knows we can!  After all, it is March Madness time, and the Force is Strong with this Sun Devil Men’s Basketball team.


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