Hello: Bobby Hurley
As we detailed a few weeks ago, Arizona State is not a particularly desirable major conference job. So: Will Bobby Hurley be able to do for the Sun Devils what nobody else has been able to do? Is it even possible to build a regular contender in the desert without hiring a big money, name brand coach?
Well, if you're going by his resume, the obvious reply is 'answer hazy, check back later.' Bobby Hurley has only been an assistant coach for 5 seasons and a head coach for 2. His career is simply too short to say with any certainty that he does or does not have what it takes to succeed at the major conference level.
I will grant that Hurley's two years at Buffalo are reasonably impressive. He took over a team that had been solidly decent in the MAC for a number of years, and got them to the NCAA tournament with their best performance in about a decade. Even more encouragingly, most of the key players on the roster were recruited by Hurley, a good sign for his skills as a talent evaluator and recruiter.
That said, if Hurley was just another random coach without the Duke 'pedigree,' does anybody really think that Arizona State hires him to come cross country? The same coach Hurley replaced led Buffalo to a similar season 10 years ago, except that season ended with a 1 point overtime loss in the MAC championship game. The reality is that Hurley's 2015 season isn't meaningfully different than a handful of other coaches that led their mid-major to a good season. ASU is banking on Hurley's name and coaching lineage to open doors and build confidence that he can make their program more than is has been in the past.
The numbers indicate that Hurley's offenses are ahead of his defenses, and that he prefers an up-tempo style of basketball. If this small sample is accurate, the Pac-12 will be adding another coach who prefers to push tempo, which means that a fast league will be getting just a bit faster.
Goodbye: Transfers and Draft Declarations
Gone early to the wasters of the NBA: Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, & Kevon Looney
None of these departures are particularly surprising. Ashley and Hollis-Jefferson have both proven themselves many times over at Arizona on both sides of the ball. Looney could perhaps benefit from another year of college ball but has already proven that he's a monster rebounder with more offensive versatility than you would expect from a 6'9'' freshman.
UCLA is likely going to be hit harder by those losses than Arizona, in part because Arizona has a stronger class coming in, and in part because I just trust Sean Miller more than Steve Alford to deal with early NBA departures more smoothly.
Still waiting on: Stanley Johnson, Kaleb Tarczewski, Tyrone Wallace, and any other hypothetical surprise departures.
Transfers: Nigel Williams-Goss
Here's the first huge surprise of the off-season. Washington was already undergoing a massive personnel shift, but the departure of Williams-Goss makes it almost 100%. Andrew Andrews will be the only significant contributor returning for next year's Huskies. True, maybe low-minute, low-usage guys like Jernard Jarreau or Donaven Dorsey will make developmental leaps, but it's also possible that everybody on the roster will be passed up by a highly regarding class of incoming freshmen.
The loss of Williams-Goss really hurts, precisely because he was supposed to be that rock that the other freshmen could hypothetically play around. Now the reins will be handed to, presumably, David Crisp. Freshmen point guards can be great, freshmen point guards can torpedo a season. The Huskies will be interesting next year, if nothing else.
Next Week: RECRUITAGEDDON
The spring signing period begins April 15th, and while recruits can wait well into May before actually sending in their letters of intent, I would anticipate that most players will make decisions in April. We'll have a pretty good sense which teams got which players by next week, and what it means for next year.