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Hurley’s past breathes new life into ASU men’s basketball

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TEMPE – Two-time national champion. NCAA all-time assist leader. Former consensus All-American.

That’s the playing resume of new Arizona State men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley, who was introduced by the school at a Friday morning press conference.

Success as a player doesn’t always translate to success as a coach, but Hurley’s basketball pedigree extends far beyond his four years on the court at Duke.

Coaching is in his blood, from his father, Bob Hurley Sr., who leads one of the top high school programs in the country at St Anthony High School in Hurley’s home state of New Jersey, to his brother Dan, who is the head coach at the University of Rhode Island.

It’s that history that molded the former Blue Devils star into a skillful sideline architect.

“First of all, it’s what I saw growing up. My dad was a coach that cared about his kids a tremendous amount and was very loyal to his program at St. Anthony’s and his community,” Hurley said. “The players at St. Anthony’s were almost like an extended family. So that’s what I saw and that’s what I’ve taken with me too.”

Hurley fielded a barrage of questions during Friday’s press conference about how he can transform an ASU program not known as a basketball powerhouse. His answers had a similar theme: an homage to his roots and lineage.

“It’s a blue collar mentality. I have a blue-collar background with my upbringing. Nothing has really ever come easy to me,” Hurley said. “People have really always doubted my career. As a player, they never expected I would take it as far as I took it.”

Being an East Coast guy, Hurley is embarking on a big change by moving to Arizona. He spent the last two seasons as the head coach at Buffalo, going a combined 42-20 and leading his team to the NCAA Tournament this year.

“When this opportunity opened up,” Hurley said, “it was clear to me that this was the place that I wanted to be, just with everything that this university offers: the campus, the practice facility, the conference – it’s big-time athletics.”

Now on the big stage, Hurley said he is ready for the tough task ahead of him.

“I’m looking forward to this challenge. I had a chance this year to compete against Kentucky and Wisconsin, and West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament,” Hurley said. “The feeling that I had to be in those games and compete against those teams was something that really drove me.”

Hurley met with his new players as a group briefly before Friday’s press conference, but he plans to spend more time meeting with them individually to get them ready for the work ahead.

“It’s hard for them. This is not easy when there’s a coaching change and they are in a transition,” Hurley said. “They are important to me right now just to make sure they are in a good place and that they are comfortable with me, and now we just begin the process of building relationships with these guys.”

With all the talk about upbringing, family and basketball, Hurley nervously forgot to mention two very important people in his life: his parents.

“Can I make a comment?” asked Ray Anderson, Arizona State’s vice president of university athletics. “Would you like to introduce your parents before they spank you?”

“Wow. That’s bad. It’s an overwhelming day, as you might imagine,” Hurley said, laughing. “Mom and Dad, really sorry. This has like SportsCenter “Not Top 10″ written all over it maybe.”