Bobby Hurley and methods to play level guard for school basketball’s most embellished level guard ever

TEMPE, Ariz. — When Bobby Hurley hits the recruiting path searching for a degree guard, he has a selected participant in thoughts.

Generally he finds him; generally he does not. However the Arizona State head coach is aware of precisely what he needs — nearly to the purpose of being too particular.

Hurley needs the alternative of himself.

Sure, the previous four-year starter for legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski who gained back-to-back nationwide championships, who was named a Closing 4 Most Excellent Participant and an All-American, who nonetheless leads the NCAA in assists and who’s extensively thought of to be among the finest level guards within the historical past of faculty basketball — along with being an NBA lottery decide — does not need one other model of himself.

Hurley understands how that sounds “to a level.”

“I feel that I search for a man that is slightly totally different than me,” Hurley stated. “You’d assume that I’d attempt to discover myself once more. However I type of search for somebody that is a bit more explosive, has slightly extra athleticism, after which can we educate slightly bit? Can we refine slightly bit by way of watching movie, simply by way of how we drill and the way we play?

“So, I type of search for a man that has slightly extra upside than I had. I, type of, perhaps maxed out my expertise and I attempt to discover slightly bit extra of a dynamic level guard.”

Discuss expectations.

Hurley does not need to coach himself. He needs to teach somebody higher than himself. So think about what it should be wish to be a degree guard for Hurley.

It is really nothing like what you may assume, his former level guards say.

“When you consider enjoying for somebody who’s arguably the perfect level guard ever, somebody from an out of doors perspective might imagine it is lots of strain, however Hurley, he was very a lot a gamers’ coach and gave us lots of freedom to have the ability to create on the ground,” stated Tra Holder, who performed for Hurley at ASU from 2015 to 2018.

In Hurley’s eight years as a head coach, two at Buffalo and the previous six at Arizona State, being a degree guard for him has been a crash course in unconventional however relevant and essential expertise. It has been a front-row seat in a classroom of courtroom imaginative and prescient, a possibility to often face Hurley — expertise his trademark on-floor depth in particular person — and an opportunity to be given the liberty to run an offense not usually seen within the faculty ranks.

The latter is a direct results of Hurley’s expertise enjoying underneath Krzyzewski, himself a collegiate level guard.

“He had excessive expectations, excessive requirements of how we work and the way we practice, how we put together, however when the lights had been on, he allowed me to specific myself enjoying the sport,” Hurley stated.

Now Hurley does the identical for his level guards, giving them a unprecedented quantity of duty, freedom and leeway.

Hurley believes if he will get the kinds of level guards he needs to execute his up-tempo system, then he’ll run the offense by way of them “to a big diploma,” that means they’ll have a major influence on the top outcome.

“If you wish to be right here and play right here at that place, then you are going to have that chance,” Hurley stated.

Holder, who was recruited to ASU by former Solar Devils coach Herb Sendek, almost transferred when Sendek was fired after the 2014-15 season, however he caught round to play for Hurley. It wasn’t till after he graduated and began watching different groups that he realized simply how a lot freedom Hurley gave his guards.

Shannon Evans, who performed for Hurley at Buffalo earlier than transferring to Arizona State when the Solar Devils employed Hurley in 2015, by no means felt like he needed to fear about what Hurley was considering or what the coach may do if he tousled.

It is a shared feeling amongst all of Hurley’s level guards, and that perception in them instilled a degree of “final confidence,” Evans stated.

“It is unbelievable how a lot he believes in you,” he stated. “It was very easy to play for him as a result of I felt like I did not must look over my shoulder. Like, if you happen to’re enjoying for someone that is actual excessive standing and each time you make a mistake, particularly as a younger man, you are going to look over your shoulder and assume, ‘Am I about to return out if I flip the ball over?’ and issues like that, however he at all times instill[ed] confidence and made me consider in myself.”

Hurley is not a believer in micromanaging.

He is not one to overcoach, stated Luguentz Dort, the previous ASU guard now with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dort believes that Hurley understands the draw back to overcoaching: handcuffing a participant’s potential.

“I let the play breathe,” Hurley stated. “I let my guys make choices.”

However that independence to run the offense is not simply handed over. It is earned. And when it’s, then Hurley lets his level guards do their factor.

“He offers me quantity of freedom,” stated Remy Martin, a preseason first-team All-American. “All through the years, we have developed a terrific relationship and, clearly, I needed to work for that and for the liberty … He simply permits me to do what I have to do.”

With that a lot freedom, nonetheless, come excessive expectations, Hurley stated.

As Monte Bearden, who ran the purpose for Hurley at Buffalo, put it, each coach is wanting over their level guard’s shoulders to a level as a result of “their program is in your fingers.”

“If they don’t seem to be enjoying the suitable approach, then there’s going to be penalties and it might get slightly heated,” Hurley stated.

Hurley added that he will not “sugarcoat something or faux issues aren’t taking place. If we’ve got to deal with one thing, we do it.” And that normally means the guards get subbed out so Hurley can discuss them by way of their points, Dort stated.

However one in every of Hurley’s expectations of his guards was comparatively easy, stated former Buffalo guard Jarod Oldham: Do not flip the ball over.

“He did not maintain anyone again,” Oldham stated. “Like playcalls, shot choice, he wasn’t actually massive on making an attempt to regulate you in that facet. It was extra so, like, show your expertise, no matter your power is, keep on with these.”

Hurley is one in every of 10 former Krzyzewski gamers or employees members who at the moment are Division I head coaches, and his expertise as a degree guard has given him a “distinctive perception” to being a head coach.

“Your position, your duty as a degree guard is to type of orchestrate every thing,” Hurley stated. “You bought to know not solely your place, however what everybody else ought to be doing so you possibly can direct on the market on the ground. And, so, the cliché that ‘the purpose guard is the quarterback’ or ‘the extension of the coach on the ground,’ you are feeling that approach … that is a part of the duty of being a degree guard.”

Now, as a coach, Hurley depends on that have and the uncommon understanding of what a participant goes by way of to teach his guards, each on and off the courtroom.

Former ASU guard Kodi Justice stated Hurley would pull his guards apart for fast conversations, generally displaying off his capability to see issues earlier than they occurred.

“He is like, ‘When someone assaults, why did you assault that approach? In case you would’ve went this fashion, this man would’ve helped and this is able to’ve opened up,'” Justice stated.

Hurley’s famend courtroom imaginative and prescient as a participant has come by way of as a coach, particularly within the occasions when Hurley harped on Dort about discovering open teammates within the corners off a display screen on the wing.

Stated Hurley: “If I discover one thing instantly, it simply turns into a fast aspect dialog in order that the blokes will modify and the following time perhaps search for one thing totally different that they did not perhaps essentially see on that one play.”

One widespread thread that has linked all his guards has been Hurley’s depth.

He is a yeller and a screamer. He is demanding. He is powerful.

“He is simply so intense on doing the suitable factor,” Dort stated. “I have to say that he actually pushed us [to make] a degree. It was me and Remy — you already know, Remy Martin [in 2018-19] — and he was simply telling us, with a lot depth, to do the suitable factor, as a result of he is aware of that we will do it.”

Going again to his days at Buffalo, Hurley likes to hunt out the opinions of his guards on their subsequent opponent, generally doing it throughout game-day shootarounds. He needs to know what they’re seeing, how they’re feeling or what they really feel are areas or matchups they’ll benefit from.

Hurley has lengthy had an open-door coverage. Martin estimates 80% of his time spent with Hurley is spent speaking about issues aside from basketball — like what Hurley has been cooking recently. He understands when a participant simply must get away.

In the course of the 2017-18 season, when Evans was a senior, ASU misplaced back-to-back video games on the street to the Arizona Wildcats and Colorado Buffaloes to start out its Pac-12 season. Heading into that stretch, ASU was 12-0 and ranked third within the nation. Evans remembered having a “horrible week” and stated he did not play effectively in both loss — he completed with simply seven factors and 5 assists towards Arizona and 11 factors and two assists towards Colorado. Earlier than the following apply after the Colorado recreation, Hurley instructed Evans to sit down down and chill out. He wasn’t practising. He wanted to get his thoughts off basketball for slightly bit.

Evans had 22 factors, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a couple of blocks within the subsequent recreation, an ASU victory.

Hurley taught Martin, who’s starting his third season as Hurley’s start line guard, how to absorb the second, be current and “take the sport by the hand.”

“The sense of second — ‘Hey, we’d like a degree right here, we’d like you proper now, we have to get a cease, get a steal, make a giant play,'” Martin stated. “One thing that I do know, however … he offers me his vitality, he offers me his sense of depth. He simply fills me up slightly bit extra and it makes me need to make the suitable play and hit the shot that simply modifications the momentum of the sport.”

Then there’s Hurley on the courtroom.

He does not simply work on the essentially sound expertise his guards will want. He teaches expertise and strikes they will want in real-game conditions, similar to same-hand and same-foot layups, working floaters, capturing whereas coming throughout the lane and fadeaways.

Bearden benefited from the best of classes from Hurley: The best way to throw the suitable bounce move. It helped Bearden neutralize the size and velocity of faculty basketball as a freshman at Buffalo.

Justice remembered making an attempt to maintain his ability strikes primary when he first began enjoying for Hurley in 2015, however Hurley inspired him to be extra imaginative.

“His ability breakdowns for us guards, like I’ve by no means seen something prefer it,” Justice stated. “We had been engaged on belongings you solely see NBA guys do.”

Stated Oldham: “You do not anticipate a coach to have you ever work on that. That is one thing unorthodox. Most coaches are extra so, like, conventional. Like, ‘We will do it like this.’ However he was like, ‘Nah, man, we’re gonna work on every thing.'”

At first, engaged on same-hand, same-foot layups was arduous, Dort stated. It goes towards every thing each basketball participant discovered.

However it labored.

“It was price it,” Dort stated. “Generally the defender’s not going to assume you are going to try this and also you do it. And if you happen to work on it, you simply get higher at it.”

And generally, Hurley is the defender.

It normally begins with Hurley displaying his guards a ability or drill he needs them to run.

“It isn’t like he cannot nonetheless do some issues with the ball,” Justice stated.

Then it turns into Hurley defending his guards in reside drills or enjoying the position of the offense in defensive drills — and he is not going half-speed. He did it extra at Buffalo than at ASU, however he nonetheless tries to defend his gamers, some 30 years youthful than him. Oldham does not assume Hurley can simply sit on the sideline and watch different folks play basketball with out getting in on the motion.

And when it occurs, Martin stated, it is time to soak within the second.



Arizona State guard Remy Martin will get the ball effectively behind the arc however pulls up anyway and splashes the 3-pointer.

“You can see why he was who he was,” Martin stated.

However Hurley is on the courtroom to work.

“He’ll go at us,” Justice stated. “He’ll guard us. He’ll present us, ‘OK, that is how I prefer it, however now go forward, play your recreation and I will attempt to cease it.’ So, he is only a competitor.”

When Hurley takes the courtroom, he has an underlying intention: to indicate his gamers that he is as invested in them as they’re in him. And he’s at all times making an attempt to be taught extra about his prices.

“I used to be guarding them, seeing if I might decide up one thing a couple of tendency or one thing that I might assist them with of their dribble strikes at me,” Hurley stated. “If I used to be capable of repeatedly keep in entrance of them, I knew that was a giant drawback. It was nearly as if I am staying in entrance of you, that is not signal, so we bought to maintain engaged on our deal with then.”

Throughout preseason practices, Martin and ASU’s youthful guards, together with Alonzo Verge Jr. and Josh Christopher, had no drawback getting by Hurley.

Nevertheless, Hurley will not let simply anybody get by him when he steps on the courtroom. Issues have gotten heated. Phrases have been exchanged. Balls have been kicked. And Hurley has talked his justifiable share of trash.

“You are going to attempt to do a transfer and he was like, ‘No, I am not going for that,’ or ‘That is a cease,’ ‘You missed a shot,'” Dort stated.

Then there have been occasions when Hurley talked to himself on the courtroom.

“He could be like, ‘Good D, Bobby,'” Dort added.

Whereas Hurley’s guards see the late-40s model of their head coach on the courtroom, there are occasions after they get a glimpse of the model ingrained in faculty basketball followers’ reminiscences. Hurley breaks out his previous highlights occasionally, normally after dangerous video games or a stretch of poor play.

“I remind them, like, ‘Look what I used to be doing right here, so perhaps you guys ought to attempt to do some higher,'” Hurley stated. “They should not be pressured to look at that as a result of, I imply, there are some respectable clips, but it surely’s a approach for me to type of say, ‘Hey, you need to win championships? You need to get to the very best degree? Then you already know we bought to alter some issues right here.’ So, I hardly ever carry these out.”

Within the minds of his guards, Hurley has achieved every thing they need to.

He went to the Cadillac of all Cadillac faculties. He went to Closing Fours. He gained nationwide championships. He was a top-10 draft decide. He hung out within the NBA.

That carries some critical gravitas along with his gamers, a few of whom grew up carrying Duke jerseys and most of whom, if not all, grew up dreaming of carrying out any of the feats that Hurley did. That would come off as intimidating to some, however Hurley’s guards rapidly discovered that the résumé, the yelling and the depth had been only a façade. Behind all that? A coach who wished to let his level guards play, present them strikes they might really use and maintain them to the identical degree of expectations he had been held to as soon as.

On the finish of the day, Hurley thinks he has achieved that.

The proof is within the relationships. His first level guards nonetheless think about him a pal, somebody who’s only a telephone name away.

“It wasn’t actually arduous to play for him,” Holder stated, “as a result of all of us appeared as much as him, principally.”

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