Column: Bobby Hurley's pregame antics provide perfect storm for Arizona and ASU rivalry
ASU's head coach Bobby Hurley encourages the crowd to make noise while an Arizona player does free throws during the game on Thursday, Jan. 31 at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona lost to ASU in overtime 95-88.
ASU head coach Bobby Hurley was so sick of losing to Arizona, he did something he’s never done before in order to break his six-game losing streak against the Wildcats.
Before the team’s pre-shootaround session, Hurley threw a curveball in their routine, and instead of watching film like normal, he brought the Sun Devils to the court.
“I’m like ‘What are we doing? We’re not dressed, what’s going on?” ASU forward Zylan Cheatham recalled.
The muddled confusion soon turned into ecstatic motivation as Hurley made his team read the game scores between Arizona and ASU since his arrival in 2015.
“For every point differential, he ran a [length of the court]. So the year we lost by 38, he ran 38 lines,” Cheatham said. In total, Hurley ran 94 feet a total of 79 times, or 7,426 feet. A marathon by basketball standards.
“[Hurley] said, ‘the suffering is over… it stops tonight,’” Cheatham said of his coach’s message.
The suffering did stop, for now, as the Sun Devils bested the Wildcats in overtime behind Cheatham’s monstrous 22 rebounds and Remy Martin’s 31 points. However, Arizona deserves credit for hanging in there as many thought the ‘Cats would fold coming off back-to-back loses by over 20 points and missing Brandon Williams with a knee injury.
Against a depleted Arizona team lacking in confidence, it was a game ASU should have won, and it did.
While Arizona lost its third-consecutive game, it’s also the third-consecutive classic down-to-the-wire finish between the two rivals. College basketball in the state of Arizona has always been run by the Wildcats, but Hurley and Co. have slowly narrowed the margin over the last few years. UA’s chokehold on ASU doesn’t go unnoticed by the Sun Devils.
“There’s no other way to say it, the dominance that U of A has had over our program,” Cheatham said.
Martin added, “It’s personal. It ups the level of intensity. Me loving Hurley, me loving the ASU community and seeing what’s it’s been through against U of A, something that the team and I took it upon ourselves to say ‘Hey, why not take another turn in history and keep it like that?'”
Hurley knows of Arizona’s dominance, the players know it, and now they showed they’re ready to make each rivalry game a fight to the death. It'll be up to Arizona next time to prove Thursday's outcome was a fluke.
Hurley's arrival has sparked a roaring flame in the Arizona/ASU rivalry. His raw emotion after every foul call, his ability to find ways to inspire his team and his relentless pursuit of trying to win each game have all boosted the intensity in the desert.
Heck, Hurley even took a deflected ball off the face and bounced right back up. Bobby ******* Hurley, indeed.
The ‘Cats will get their chance for revenge in the last game of the regular season in Tucson when Pac-12 Tournament seeding will be on the line. Hurley and the Sun Devils got their moment. Now, can they make it stick?
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