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ASU Basketball: Competitive practices fuel Sun Devils before Europe trip

An influx of talent and three years under Hurley has lit a fire under the Devils. It’s on display at practice.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Arizona State David Kadlubowski-USA TODAY Sports

Intensity, passion and competition were on full display on the basketball court for ASU’s last practice before they headed Barcelona and Rome on July 31 for three exhibition games.

The Sun Devils partook in several fast-paced, high-tempo intrasquad scrimmages, and it was obvious these athletes were pushing themselves to their limits.

“There have been days where you don’t want to stop the practice because the way the guys are competing and going after each other,” Hurley said. “It’s just harder to stand out in our gym now. It was easier for guys like Shannon (Evans) and Tra (Holder) last year to be more dominant, but now there’s a high volume of elite-level players.”

This influx of talent and Hurley’s vivid passion for the game has created an atmosphere in the gym where not just a few, but a variety of members of the squad stand out each practice, creating a competitive feel.

“We have the teams pretty well balanced and there’s not a lot separating either team,” Hurley said. “The desire to win is strong in our segments we’re doing and these guys have pride and they’re good players and they’re competing and they’re making each other better out there.”

While this competitive nature may not exactly express a game-like feel, it enhances the younger players growth, which is something senior guard Kodi Justice believes is happening.

“It’s good for us right now because we’re getting prepared to play against professional teams,” Justice said. “So they’re going to be out there executing and they’ve been together for a while so we got to be able to use our athleticism and play fast. Our intense practices are getting us prepared for that.”

In Hurley’s third year, it seems like the team continues to grow each day while he looks to find the best way to use the pieces on his board to win games.

Whether it’s playing small ball with their four guards, attacking the paint with their new big men freshman Romello White or junior transfer Carlton Bragg, or experimenting with the lineup, this trip to Europe will give the Sun Devils an understanding of where they are and these practices are a way for them to attain that level of competition to help them win games.