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ASU Basketball: Bobby Hurley notebook

Getting close to taking the court

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Tulsa Practice Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Hurley talked to the media on Friday as the Arizona State Sun Devils get close to taking the court in the Empire Classic on November 25. Here are a few takeaways from his press conference.

Tough non-conference opponents

Arizona State enters this season as a top-25 team, and despite the ranking and the issues scheduling with COVID-19 still around, they’re not backing down from facing top teams.

Hurley has always looked for a challenge. It doesn’t get much tougher for ASU by opening with second-ranked Baylor on opening night. Then depending on how things go, the Sun Devils might face No. 3 Villanova as well.

“It’s been our philosophy. We want to try and seek out high-profile games, opportunities for our players to measure ourselves against some of the better teams in the country,” Hurley said. “We’ve done that just about every year I’ve been here and this year, we had some cancellations so we had to shuffle things around a bit. It’s not an ideal situation to right out of the gate play one of the best teams in the country that’s bringing a core of their team back this year, but it was our only route to getting the games like that on our schedule that we needed.”

Becoming a unit

There are a lot of moving parts to Arizona State’s roster this season. Returners, transfers, freshmen, all included in Hurley’s deep core. It’s the part about turning a group of talented individuals into a team that’s been the tough part for Hurley right now.

“We’re going to try and build combinations of players that makes sense that we can take advantage of our strengths, which we have a number of really high-level, I think, players on the perimeter....So we’re going to need that interior presence, that rebounding, that shot-blocking at the basket. And all that the things that you talk about and try to become a complete team. And that’s our goal.

It’s very early and we’ve had a very unusual offseason, but we got to get it in gear. And we got to practice better than we have the last couple of days. So there are some alarms going off a little bit about what we’re doing on the practice floor right now and about our maturity level...We got to do some of the dirty work too. It’s great when you have a lot of talent and a lot of expectations and a lot of guys with a lot of hype, but we got to do a lot to do a lot of the little things that you got to do in a relationship. And that’s who we all are, we’re a team, we’re like a living, breathing relationship that needs work every day.”

Injury updates

Hurley also gave updates on Kimani Lawrence and Ohio State transfer Luther Muhammad. Lawrence, who had missed a few weeks with knee injury, was cleared for live work.

Meanwhile, Muhammad had shoulder surgery from an injury that bothered him back at Ohio State. The recovery time is estimated at 2-3 months.