TEMPLE, Ariz. — If Bobby Hurley’s looking for a leader, he’s got a certain player in mind.
Sometimes he finds them, sometimes he doesn’t. But the Arizona head coach knows exactly what he wants – almost to the point of being too specific.
Hurley wants the opposite of himself.
Yes, Duke’s legendary four-year-old national championship-winning coach Mike Krzyszewski was voted one of the four most notable players in the final, and the all-American, who still leads the NCAA in attendance and is rightly considered one of the greatest players in the history of student basketball – in addition to being an NBA lottery winner – doesn’t want to have another version of himself.
Hurley somehow understands what this looks like.
I think I’m looking for a man a little different from me, Hurley. You think I’m gonna try to find myself. But I’m looking for someone a little more explosive, a little more athletic, and then we can teach a little? Can we get a little clarity by watching the movie, the way we train and play?
So I’m looking for a man with a little more guts than me. I maximize my talent, so to speak, and I try to find a slightly more dynamic leader.
Talk about expectations.
Hurley doesn’t want to practice for herself. He wants to raise someone better than he does. So imagine what it’s like to be Hurley’s point guard.
In fact, it’s not what you might think, say his former players.
If you’re thinking of playing for someone who is probably the best playmaker, someone on the outside may think it’s a lot of pressure, but Hurley was a great player coach and he gave us a lot of freedom to create on the pitch, said Tre Holder, who played for Hurley at ASU from 2015 to 2018.
In eight years as a head coach, two in Buffalo and the last six in Arizona, Hurley has been a crash course in unconventional but applicable and necessary skills. It was a first-class courtroom seat, an opportunity to meet Hurley once in a while – to personally experience the intensity of his signature on the floor – and a chance to win the freedom to commit crimes that are not common in college.
The latter is a direct result of Hurley’s experience as a player under Krzyzewski, the most collegial game maker.
He had high expectations, high standards for our work, training and preparation, but when the lights came on, he let me play the game, Hurley said.
Fault! The file name is not specified. All-American candidate Remy Martin states that his freedom to tackle Bobby Hurley’s attack is hard won. Joe Camporeale-USA Today Sports
Today, Hurley does the same for his jokers, giving them extraordinary responsibility, freedom and discretion.
Hurley believes that if he gets the kind of strings he needs for his cadence-up system, he will walk through most of the attack, which means they will have a significant impact on the end result.
If you want to be here and play in this position, you’ll have that chance, Hurley said.
Holder, who was recruited to ASU by former San Devil coach Herb Sendeck, was almost transferred when Sendeck was fired after the 2014-15 season, but he continued to play for Hurley. It wasn’t until he finished his training and started observing the other teams that he realized how much freedom Hurley gave his guards.
Shannon Evans, who played for Hurley in Buffalo before moving to Arizona when the Sun Devils drew Hurley in 2015, never felt the need to worry about what Hurley thought or what the coach might do if he was wrong.
There’s a common feeling among all Hurley’s Point Guards, and that faith has given them confidence, Evans said.
It’s amazing how much he believes in you, he said. Playing for him was very easy because I felt I didn’t have to look over his shoulder. For example, if you play for someone at a very high level and you make a mistake, especially when you are young, you look over your shoulder and think: Soon I’ll be out when I turn the ball? and everything, but it always gives me confidence and makes me believe in myself.
Hurley doesn’t believe in micromanagement.
According to Lugwantz Dort, a former AGU guard who now works with the Oklahoma City Thunderbolt, he is not the kind of man who can overtrain. Now Hurley thinks he understands the lack of training: Handcuffs to the player’s potential.
I let the game breathe, Hurley. I let my boys make the decisions.
But this independence from a crime is not just passed on. He had it on his mind. And when that happens, Hurley will let her jokers do their thing.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Bobby Hurley coaches his players the same way he coaches them during the AP Photo/Jeff Chiu game, record
It gives me good freedom, says Remy Martin, the first American pre-season team. Over the years we’ve had a great relationship and of course I had to fight for her and for freedom… He just lets me do whatever I want.
But with such freedom, Mr. Hurley said, expectations are high.
Like Monte Birden chasing Hurley in Buffalo, in simple terms: Every coach looks over his or her leader’s shoulder, because his or her program is in your hands.
If they play badly, there will be consequences, and that can get a little hot, Hurley said.
Hurley said he wouldn’t hide anything and just pretend it didn’t happen. If we have to do something, we’ll do it. And that usually means that the guards come out of the underground so that Hurley can talk to them about their problems, Dort said.
But one of Hurley’s expectations of his guards was relatively simple, said Jarod Oldham, a former buffalo herder: Don’t turn the ball around.
He hadn’t arrested anyone, Oldham said. Just like the Playboys, he wasn’t really trying to control you in that aspect of the shoot. It was more of a demonstration of your talent, whatever your strength, hold on to it.
Hurley is one of ten former Krzyzewski players or employees who are now Head Coach of the first division, and his experience as a playmaker has given him the unique opportunity to become Head Coach.
Your role, your responsibility as a joker, it’s like orchestrating everything, Hurley said. Not only do you need to know where you stand, but you also need to know what everyone has to do to get there, on the ground. And so, the cliché that the playmaker is the quarterback or the extension of the ground coach, we find that… it’s part of the playmaker’s responsibility.
As a coach, Hurley now draws from that experience and a rare understanding of what a player has to endure to coach his defenders, both on and off the field.
Former AGU security guard Cody Justice said that Hurley had removed his guards for quick interviews, which sometimes proves that he is able to see things before they happen.
That’s him: If someone’s attacking, why were you attacking like that? If you went that way, that guy would help you and he would open up, Justice said.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Bobby Hurley pays tribute to Duke Mike Krzyszewski for his influence on his training style. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Pictures
Hurley’s famous vision as a player on the field blossomed as coach, especially when Hurley went after the Dorta to find open teammates in the bends behind the aeroplane.
Says Hurley: When I notice something right away, it’s just a trifle, so the guys adjust, and next time they might be looking for something else they haven’t necessarily seen in this game.
Hurley’s intensity was what all his guards had in common.
He’s screaming and shouting. He demands. He’s strong.
He was just trying to do the right thing, Dort said. I have to say he really pushed us down that road. It was me and Rémy – you know, Rémy Martin [2018-19] – and he told us with such intensity that we have to do the right thing because he knows we can.
Since his time in Buffalo, Hurley has been content to ask his guards for advice on the next opponent, sometimes even during the shooting of the day. They want to know what they see, what they feel, or what they perceive as areas or coincidences they can exploit.
Hurley’s had an open door policy for a long time. Martin estimates that he spends 80% of his time with Hurley talking about things other than basketball, like what Hurley’s been cooking lately. He understands if a player just has to leave.
In the 2017-18 season, Evans Sr. lost a straight game at U.S. State University when the Arizona Wildcats and Colorado Buffalo entered the Pac 12 season. In this section ASU was third in the country with 12-0. Evans remembers that awful week and says he didn’t play well in any of the losses – he finished the game with 7 points and 5 assists against Arizona and 11 points and 2 assists against Colorado. For the next training session after the Colorado game, Hurley told Evans to sit back and relax. He hasn’t practiced. He needed a little distraction from basketball.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Remy Martin and Bobby Hurley have a good relationship, in which Hurley Martin gives Martin more freedom in the field. Joe Camporeale-USA Today Sports
In the next game Evans had 22 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks – a victory over ASU.
Hurley has taught Martin, who is starting his third season as a playmaker, to take a moment, be present and take the game by the hand.
The feeling of the moment… Hey, we need a point, we need you now, we need to stop, make a flight, make a big game, Martin said. I know something, but… He gives me his energy, he gives me his sense of intensity. It just fills me a little more, and it makes me want to play the right game and hit the shot that just changes the momentum of the game.
Then Hurley’s on the set.
He doesn’t just work on the basic skills his guards need. It teaches the skills and movements they need in real game situations, such as stacking a hand and a leg, running on floats, shooting at the intersection of the course and the fairway.
Hurley’s easiest lessons were good for beards: How to throw the right pass on the rebound. He helped Bearden neutralize the length and speed of varsity basketball as a newcomer to Buffalo.
Justice recalls that he tried to preserve the fundamental characteristics of his skills when he first played for Hurley in 2015, but Hurley pushed him to think more inventive.
His talent broke our guards like I’ve never seen anything like it, the judge said. We’ve been working on what only NBA boys do.
Sayid Oldham: You don’t expect the coach to let you work. It’s something unorthodox. Most coaches are quite traditional. In a manner of speaking: That’s what we’re gonna do. But he is: No, man, we’re gonna work on everything.
In the beginning it was difficult to work with only one hand, with only one leg, Dort said. It goes against everything every basketball player has ever learned.
But it worked.
It was worth it, Mr. Dort said. Sometimes the protector doesn’t believe you do, and you do. And if you work on it, you’ll get better at it.
And sometimes Hurley’s a defense attorney.
Usually it starts with Hurley showing his guards the skills or exercises they need to perform.
He doesn’t seem to be able to do anything with the bullet.
Then he turns into Hurley, who defends his guards in a live exercise or plays the role of the attacker in a defensive exercise – and he doesn’t drive at half speed. He’s done better at Buffalo than ASU, but he’s still trying to protect his players, who are about 30 years younger. Oldham doesn’t believe that Hurley can sit on the sidelines and watch other people play basketball without interfering.
And when that happens, it’s time to enjoy the moment, Martin said.
Fault! The file name is not specified. – set
Arizona state defender Remy Martin gets the ball well over the arch, but he stops anyway and scores 3 points.
You can understand why he was like that, Martin said.
But Hurley’s at work.
He’s gonna sue us, the judge said. He’ll keep us. He’s gonna show us: Okay, I love it, but now you keep playing your game and I’m gonna try to stop it. So he’s just a competitor.
When Hurley takes the field, he has only one intention: to show his players that he has invested as much in them as in himself. And he’s always trying to find out more about his protests.
I watched them to see if I could find out anything about their preferences or help them dribble on me, Hurley said. If I could stay ahead of them regularly, I knew it was a big problem. The way I’m standing in front of you isn’t a good sign, so we have to keep working on the pen.
In pre-season training, Martin and ASU’s young guards, including Alonzo Verge Jr. and Josh Christopher, had no problem taking care of Hurley.
Still, Hurley won’t let anyone pass when he’s off the set. Everything is heated. Words were exchanged. The balloons have been released. And Hurley was talking about his share of the garbage.
They’re trying to make a move, and he’s doing it: No, I’m not going to this or that stop you missed, he says.
Then there were times when Hurley talked to himself on the set.
He’d be like Good D, Bobby Dort added.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Lugentz It was believed that Bobby Hurley never wanted to break a player’s potential. Jim Brown U.S.A. Sports
While the Hurley’s Guards are on the field seeing a version of their head coach from the late 1940s, there are times when they see a version rooted in the memories of college basketball fans. Hurley sometimes brings his old highlights to the surface, usually after a bad match or encounter.
I’ll remind him: Look what I’ve done here. Maybe you should try to do a little better, Hurley said. You shouldn’t look at it, because there are decent clips, but I can put it that way: Do you want to win the championship? Do you want to take it to the next level? Then you know we have to change things. That’s why I rarely take them off.
In the minds of his guards, Hurley has achieved everything they want.
He went to every Cadillac school. He came to the last square. He won the national championship. He was in the top ten. He spent some time in the NBA.
The players, some of whom grew up with Duke T-shirts and most, if not all, grew up dreaming of doing one of Hurley’s tricks. It may seem daunting to some, but Hurley’s guards soon realized that the resumes, the screams and the intensity were just a façade. Is she behind this? A coach who wanted to let his players play, show them the movements they were actually going to use and keep them at the same level of expectation as he ever had.
After all, Hurley thinks he did it.
The evidence is in the relationship. His first jokers always see him as a friend, someone who just called.
Holder said it’s not hard for him to play because we all look down on him.
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