ASU Basketball: Arizona State and Hurley’s Approach to the Coronavirus, Uncertainty for the Season
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to linger in the United States, there is still a lot of uncertainty of how the 2020-2021 college basketball season will look. This off-season already has a very different look than the Sun Devils, and Coach Bobby Hurley are used to. He has a challenging stretch ahead of him, as he will have to approach his workouts and practices differently in order to reflect COVID-19 protocols, as his main priority will be the safety of the players and staff.
When players and coaches were granted access back into the gym, Hurley wanted his guys to feel comfortable returning. “It was certainly up to each individual and their families to decide if they wanted to take advantage of it,” Hurley said in Wednesday’s press conference.
Arizona State Men’s Basketball has been doing everything in its power to limit the spread of the virus. All of the coaches, players and staff have been wearing masks during the workouts, hand sanitizer is at every corner, and social distancing is encouraged wherever possible. ”We’re operating in very small groups right now that only consist of consistent pods of guys, so we’re not getting cross-contamination of the entire program at one time on the court,” said Hurley.
The Sun Devils have predominantly been focusing on drills involving skill work, shooting and dribbling. Hurley said the team has yet to partake in any contact drills or scrimmages. “I’m just trying to get back in the flow, get back into a routine with them and just give them the structure they’ve been craving.”
Conditioning has been another concern for the Devils. The team has operated under the assumption that players haven’t had the opportunity to train consistently due to COVID-19, which has reflected the conservative practices and added rest time in between drills up to this point.
About half of the players have been at voluntary workouts regularly, but other key players, including top recruit Josh Christopher, have yet to report. This will be the first time that Hurley has not had all of his talent together by this time in the year. This puts him in unfamiliar territory as he tries to balance the 7th-best recruiting class with veteran star players. “We would usually bring the guys back at the end of June for a five-week program with our full hours… but with COVID, we haven’t had that chance.”
The good news for the Sun Devils is that they haven’t had any setbacks. Over the next couple of weeks, Hurley is expecting a blend of guys to come in. To add, all the players seem to be excited and ready for the season. Hurley said, “I have not had players that have come to me personally or to our staff and say like look, this is something I’m really concerned about, and I’m not sure I want to participate.”
Overall, Hurley knows there is still a lot of uncertainty ahead for the Sun Devils. He doesn’t know exactly how ASU’s practice schedule is going to look like in September, or if the team is going to play non-conference games or go to a conference-only schedule, similar to how college football conferences are approaching their season. “I know we have a lot of smart people in the NCAA and the PAC-12 that behind the scenes are planning for everything right now knowing that again, this is a very fluid situation,” said Hurley.
Although there has not been any word on whether or not the 2020-21 college basketball season will be held, Hurley has a lot of optimism around basketball returning, “I think with our sport being a winter sport, that gives me a lot more hope. I do have a lot of confidence that there will be a season.”