The ASU men’s basketball season is around the corner as the Sun Devils start to prepare for their trip to China in a months time. Head coach Bobby Hurley and junior guard Remy Martin each answered questions about what they believe are things the team has practiced so far in the preseason.
This team is Bobby Hurley’s most experienced at ASU
Bobby Hurley mentioned how the core of the team has been with him for a few years now. Some of those players are junior forwards Kimani Lawerence, Romello White and Martin.
As a new season comes along, there are always new players that enter the program and Hurley has added new pieces to the roster. Three junior college transfers and five freshmen entering the program has made Hurley excited to see how the team turns out.
“We have been together now since basically the beginning of June, this isn’t like we just started this past weekend,” Hurley said. “It’s been exciting to see some of the new guys, like it always is, that’s part of the beauty of college basketball for me, is just to get a chance to see what the team is going to look like and when you lose key players and you have to hope that your key players are making jumps and the new guys.”
ASU playing Pac-12 foe Colorado in China on November 8
The Sun Devil practices have been scrunched by a week as they take a few days to adjust to being overseas in a place like China. Hurley knows that the experience will be unique, but the team is losing time to practice.
“This is probably the shortest preseason that I have had and we have done a great job getting off to a fast start the last two years,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we are getting better everyday. We are kind of losing a week just with the trip and it’s going to be a great experience for our team to go to China and have that experience. But at the same time, from a coaching standpoint, you are a little bit short-handed with the time to get the team ready.
Hurley also mentioned that ASU wants to play as many top-50 caliber teams, and he believes that Colorado is one of those teams.
“Certainly we want to play in games versus teams that we project to be in the top-50,” Hurley said. “I would think with the team that Colorado has coming back, they will be in that category. It’s a really great neutral site game. They are very experienced. It’s kind of early for me to want to think about them. It’s more concentrating now on developing the right habits and seeing how we are going to have to play and just going to figure ourselves out right now.”
Growth of Romello White and Kimani Lawrence
The two junior forwards took steps back last year as future NBA players Luguentz Dort and Zylan Cheatham took over the team. Now, Hurley knows that Lawrence and White have a chance to expand their games. Hurley had this to say about White:
“Romello White has been the best that he looks since he’s been here. He was just an animal out there in our practice today. If he continues to practice and play the way he’s playing, he’s sitting on a really great year.”
Hurley mentioned that White should be grabbing more rebounds this year, as he has taken care of his body since the end of last season.
“Melo has the potential to boost his numbers in that regard because he’s down about 10 pounds and he’s in elite shape for any time that he has been here. He’s getting more of those rebounds,” Hurley said.
A player that had a year in the shadows with Dort and Cheatham playing a lot was Lawrence. Hurley expects another big year for the junior forward as he has a chance to be a problem on both sides of the court.
“He attacked the offseason and I’m just very impressed with how he took care of his body and he’s moving more fluidly,” Hurley said. “I think there are certain areas that we need help in that i think he can provide that help if he really locks into that and we have discussed that.
“Just using all his tools: his size, movement, length to be one of our better perimeter defenders. A lot of those assignments went to Lu and Zylan and we kind of got to replace the defensive standpoint and rebounding standpoint and I think Kimani will be somebody that can do some of those things.”
To close out his presser, Hurley gave the media an update on the players who weren’t practicing today.
Freshman Caleb Christopher is dealing with a wrist injury but that isn’t of any cause for concern with Hurley. Freshman Jalen Graham rolled his ankle two weeks ago, and needs two more weeks, but Hurley mentioned that he wants the freshman to come back and earn reps for the season. The biggest injury is senior forward Mickey Mitchell. Mitchell has been out indefinitely with a back injury.
“This is as optimistic as I’ve been about how he’s feeling and how he’s looking and what he’s said to me,” Hurley said. “He’s not in our short term going to be in our practices but he is making good progress.”
Junior guard Remy Martin on the new season and being a leader
With the Sun Devils making the tournament the last two years, Martin knows that is the past. Now, he wants to lead by example.
“I’m continuing to push my guys and get the best out of them,” Martin said. “I got to lead by example and cant tell certain guys to do certain things if I’m not doing it as well.”
Martin acknowledged that it’s starting to get real that he is an upperclassman and it’s a big year for the team.
Martin agreed with senior guard Rob Edwards with the fact that the backcourt duo is looking to play with more pace this season. However, Martin knows that won't happen without defensive stops and it goes back to being a pest on defense and picking up full court.
Lawerence and White’s growth in the eyes of the point guard
The trio is expected to be the leaders of the team in Coach Hurley’s eyes and Martin knows that Lawerence and White are going to take another big step this upcoming year and fans should be ready.
Martin on Lawrence: “The jump that he has made, I cant wait for people to see, especially us being a little small,” Lawrence said. “Him getting more defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds and just being all over and being a full basketball player. He’s been working on his game, his dribbling, everything is polished up and he looks really good.
“Every time i kick it to him in the corner or in the wing, I feel like it's going in and he’s just been working on his game and his jump shot and i think he’s going to have a very big year that people kind of expect from him but he expects more from himself.”
Martin on White: “Melo is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had honestly,” Martin said. The way you can pass to Melo in the post and really fee lie you are going to get it back if his shot isn’t there is incredible.
“There’s not a big man out there that can really pass out the post like he does and if he doesn’t pass out the post he can really finish. His field goal percentage should be 100 to me. Every time I pass it to Melo in the post, we either get an open shot out of it or he gets a great sho of it and makes it. Melo’s going to have a great year as well.”
Unfinished business from last year
Martin has been apart of the Sun Devils teams that have made it to the NCAA Tournament but he wants more. Martin wants to win.
“I’m still here. Im still trying to do things that we haven’t done here even though we have a good amount, I'm still not satisfied, I still want to make it further,” Martin said.
“I still want the Pac-12 championship at the end of the day I really do want to win. That’s a serious goal of mine to always win but for those guys that left, they did great hear but we are here now and we got to figure out how to win.”
How he wants to be remembered as a Sun Devil
Martin shaved his beard because he was being compared to James Harden, which isn’t bad at all, but he wants to be remembered his own way (outside of his hair).
“I want to leave my own legacy here and it’s time for me to go back to the basics: shaving my beard when I was a freshman, picking up full court,” Martin said. I want to go back to the fundamentals.
“It’s just a mental thing for me but it’s just kind of fun because I can play with that and grown a beard. Looking at myself in the mirror and saying this is it, i’m an upperclassman, I’ve got two more years what am I going to do with it, it’s my journey.”