(Photo: USA Today Sports)
It’s official. As reported by several sources, former Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley will now be at the helm of the Arizona State men’s basketball program.
Since March 24, ASU athletic director Ray Anderson has been searching for a replacement for Herb Sendek, and from the jump, current Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel seemed to be the guy, according to multiple reports.
When Capel announced that he had taken himself out of the running for the job, there were whispers, groans and doubts about Anderson’s handling of the coaching search. Some questioned his ability to find a person to fit the job.
Now, with Hurley hired, new questions have been stirred up.
Most importantly, was Hurley the right guy?
Anderson said he wanted somebody to energize the program. While Hurley isn’t the most experienced of head coaches, he does just that in different ways.
First of all, in his two seasons at Buffalo, he has won. A 42-20 record is nothing to scoff at, and Buffalo earned its berth into the NCAA Tournament following a win in the MAC Tournament. While his track record isn’t much longer than that as a coach, Hurley is one of the most famous and successful college basketball players in the last 25 years.
As a player for Duke from 1989-1993, Hurley went to three consecutive Final Fours, won back-to-back titles, earned the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award in 1992 and was a consensus first-team All-American in 1993.
Hurley also led Duke in one of the more famous wins in coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career when the Blue Devils took down a UNLV Runnin’ Rebels squad that entered the 1992 Final Four as the defending national champions and boasting a 34-0 record.
His name alone should create buzz not only in the local community, but, for the reasons previously stated, also on a national scale.
Ideally, Hurley would also influence sophomore point guard Tra Holder to stay in Tempe. Holder came on strong in the latter half of the Pac-12 season and earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. Going forward, he and junior forward Savon Goodman will be critical in giving Hurley a decent core to work with off the bat.
Recruiting was another critical component of Anderson’s coaching search, and while Hurley didn’t attract a player rated higher than three stars according to ESPN.com, this is also Hurley’s first coaching job in a Power 5 conference. What that means is that he’ll likely bring a drive and energy needed to breathe life into an ASU program that historically hasn’t made much noise on a consistent basis. He may struggle to cement a recruiting presence on the west coast immediately given his mostly upper-eastern roots, so piecing together the right coaching staff around him will be critical.
The right coaching staff is also going to be critical because the 2015-16 season will be Hurley’s third season as the head coach of a Division-I team. Although he is 43, Hurley has only been in the coaching circuit since joining his brother Dan’s staff at Wagner College in 2010.
All things considered, Hurley has a lot to prove. He has statements to make and a coaching reputation to build, and that is why he is the right guy to be in Tempe. Although Capel was ASU’s first option for obvious reasons (more experience, recruiting prowess, redemption from his final seasons at Oklahoma), Hurley is not a bad hire at all.
Did the process take a little longer than anticipated or desired? Yes. However, with the live recruiting period beginning on April 10, ASU salvaged what could have been a disastrous coaching search and came out with a meaningful hire.
That being said, Herb Sendek was considered a ‘steal’ when he arrived in Tempe in 2006.
After nine years of Sendek at the helm, this is now the Bobby Hurley-era of ASU men’s basketball.
You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at email@example.com