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Coaching search profile: Bobby Hurley

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The supposed top choice for the AD, Bobby Hurley comes with experience and some local cachet

Syracuse v Arizona State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Name: Bobby Hurley

Age: 47 (48 in June)

Current job: Head Coach Arizona State

Previous jobs: Head Coach Buffalo, Associate Head Coach Rhode Island (under Dan Hurley), Assistant Coach Wagner (under Dan Hurley)

Career head coaching record (conference record): 73-58 (32-40)

NCAA Tournament Appearances (record): 3 (1-3)

Evidence of recruiting skills: Last season, Hurley brought in a pair of top-50 players — the powerful Luguentz Dort and Taeshon Cherry. He also has brought in a number of international players. He has brought in other top-100 players — Sam Cunliffe, Remy Martin. At Buffalo he brought in solid players from the midwest with the help of now-Alabama coach Nate Oats.

Items of interest: NCAA all-time assists leader, two-time NCAA Champion with Duke, All-American, McDonald’s All-American, #11 retired by Duke, Seventh pick in NBA draft, five years in NBA. His father, Coach Bob Hurley Sr., is a Hall of Fame basketball coach who dominated the high school levels at St. Anthony’s in New Jersey.

On court: A constant for Hurley’s teams is that they play fast-paced basketball on offense and defense. He lets his players create on the floor instead of calling plays on every possession.

Generally guard-heavy, Bobby Hurley’s teams have been good at holding on to the ball. The Sun Devils have turned a corner and have gone to the line a lot in the past two seasons.

On the other hand, the teams often don’t stylistically stand out besides pace.

The defenses, overall, have not been elite over the course of the season. Defensive rebounding has been an issue (not as extreme as under Mullin, however).

Assist numbers are low on offense, as players attack off the dribble with freedom; and high on defense, as opponents are able to get to spots and makes successful passes for scores, especially threes.

Why he’d be a good fit: Hurley’s name has been mentioned as a possibility for months, even before Chris Mullin’s Red Storm squad limped into the NCAA Tournament.

He is desired here.

Hurley’s connections and ability to hire solid assistants should pay dividends in bringing in some high-level players locally and even internationally. His style will make for exciting games at the Garden, an NBA-paced style that lets athletes run.

For those who like their head coach to be a show on the sideline, Hurley is demonstrative, even picking up a technical during the NCAA game against St. John’s.

The local media loves him even more than they loved Chris Mullin. The story of the local man who comes home to resurrect the local program is good. Fans have wanted him on the St. John’s sidelines for many years, a proven winner with passion who can get the job done.

Perhaps he is the savior. He is experienced, will have a lot of people to call on to get better coaching results. He’s brought in high level players recently, including Luguentz Dort, who recently declared for the NBA Draft.

St. John’s v Arizona State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Why it wouldn’t work: It will work on some level. They will get solid recruits and win games for as long as he’s here.

(Let’s assume that at some point in the next 7-10 years, all of the Duke-related basketball coaches will get together for a Hunger Games-like outing, and the survivor gets to succeed Coach K when he retires.)

Can Hurley win games in March? After four years in Tempe, he has made the NCAA Tournament twice, both times via the First Four, for the last teams in the Tournament. Both seasons, his ASU teams were ranked (last year, as high as #3).

The mid-season swoons hurt his team ceilings, as does the sometimes-undisciplined style.

But after six years in, if his last name were not “Hurley”, a reasonable person could say that he is figuring out how to meld a player-friendly style with consistency. St. John’s is a place where it’s possible to get that done, but will the fanbase turn on him, expecting immediate championships?

What’s getting in the way: As with all coaching searches, one has to assume that St. John’s has the money to satisfy Hurley, who makes well over 2 million at Arizona State, in an area with cheaper cost of living. Maybe the desert air and never seeing sleet are appealing to him and his family. Maybe this is a ploy to squeeze more money out of the Sun Devils. Maybe Hurley really doesn’t want to compete against his brother Dan for recruits. (ed. note: Really? Suck it up, the brothers already compete for recruits.)


Final word: With the support he will have in place, the floor is high even if the ceiling may be unknown. Hurley has been thought to have great potential as a coach, given his relationships and deep knowledge at the highest levels of the sport under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. His penchant for emotions may temper over time.

Could St. John’s be the place to fully unlock that potential?

Likelihood: High