Bobby Hurley to take over Sun Devils after 2-year stint at Buffalo

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Bobby Hurley (AP Images) Bobby Hurley (AP Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Bobby Hurley grew up around basketball, playing for a coaching great who just happened to be his father. He was a feisty point guard who led Duke to consecutive national championships and proved his coaching chops by leading Buffalo to the NCAA Tournament during his second season.

With a background like that, he proved to be the perfect choice to take over Arizona State's up-and-down program.

Arizona State hired Hurley to replace Herb Sendek on Thursday, hoping the cerebral-yet-passionate former point guard can lead the Sun Devils to consistent success.

"Bobby is energetic, passionate and tough, and his contagious competitive fire will bring unmatched vigor to our men's basketball program," Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said in a statement. "A teacher, first and foremost, he is a proven winner as both a player and a coach, and understands the steps it takes to be a champion."

Arizona State's program could use a lift.

Though universally respected for his intellect and forthright ways, Sendek could not turn the Sun Devils into consistent winners. Arizona State reached the NCAA Tournament twice during his nine seasons, most recently in 2014, and struggled to gain a foothold in the deep Pac-12.

The Sun Devils labored this season after losing key players from the NCAA Tournament team and Sendek was fired on March 24 after going 155-133 in the desert.

Arizona State had been in serious talks with Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel, but he took his name out of the running earlier this week.

The Sun Devils quickly turned their attention toward Buffalo, where the 43-year-old Hurley turned the Bulls into a winner in a short time.

Buffalo won 19 games in Hurley's first season and had a breakthrough in 2014, winning the program's first Mid-American Conference title while leading the Bulls to their first NCAA Tournament berth.

Buffalo lost to West Virginia in the Round of 64, and Hurley reached an agreement on a contract extension after he became the first coach in school history to win more than 40 games (42) his first two seasons.

"In Bobby Hurley, we have found a top flight coach who will take our basketball program to the next level and a mentor who will foster academic success among all of our student-athletes," Arizona State President Michael Crow said in a statement.

Hurley has a deep basketball history, growing up as the son of Bob Hurley Sr., a successful New Jersey high school coach and member of the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Bobby led St. Anthony High School in Jersey City to four straight state titles and continued his success at Duke, serving as the feisty point guard on a team that reached the Final Four three times and won national titles in 1991-92.

After being named an All-American in 1993, Hurley was selected with the seventh overall pick of the NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings, where he played five seasons.

Hurley nearly had his career cut short after a horrific car accident nearly took his life during his rookie season, but he returned to play four more years before retiring.

Hurley spent time as a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers before becoming an assistant coach under younger brother Dan at Wagner and later Rhode Island.

He was hired to replace Reggie Witherspoon at Buffalo in 2013 after they went 14-20 the season before.

"We conducted an exhaustive search and after numerous discussions with many of basketball's most knowledgeable and respected individuals, one thing became clear: Bobby is the right person to lead this program to new heights," Anderson said.

Hurley released a statement shortly after the news broke:

While it was an extremely difficult decision to move on from my team in Buffalo, this is a tremendous opportunity and I want to thank Mr. Anderson and Dr. Crow for selecting me as the leader of the ASU men's basketball program.

To the 942 Crew: You are pioneers and are truly special, so thank you for changing the way students participate in the game with the Curtain of Distraction. To the fans: Our passion, enthusiasm and energy will breed a culture you will be proud to support. To all of our former players: You are the lifeblood of the program and one of my primary objectives will be to engage you and bring you back home. With our fast-paced and aggressive style of play, we are going to make Sun Devil Basketball a destination for in-state, national, and international basketball talent.

Our purpose is to mold championship-caliber young men on the court, in the classroom and around the community. We are here to set a new standard, to make regular trips to the NCAA Tournament, and regularly compete for conference and national titles.

With the full support of this community there is no doubt in my mind we are going to build something truly special here in Tempe.

ASU athletic director Ray Anderson released the following statement on the hiring of Hurley:

I am thrilled to announce Bobby Hurley as the new head men's basketball coach at Arizona State University.

We conducted an exhaustive search and after numerous discussions with many of basketball's most knowledgeable and respected individuals, one thing became clear: Bobby is the right person to lead this program to new heights.

We have a leader who, along with our university and our community, is committed to helping Sun Devil Basketball thrive. With Bobby at the helm, we will provide the necessary resources to compete within our state, our conference and across the nation. We are intent on becoming an elite men's basketball program.

Bobby is energetic, passionate and tough, and his contagious competitive fire will bring unmatched vigor to our men's basketball program. A teacher, first and foremost, he is a proven winner as both a player and a coach, and understands the steps it takes to be a champion.

Bobby Hurley epitomizes basketball excellence, with a keen knowledge of the game that stems from his lifelong involvement in the sport. His childhood consisted of watching the defining moments of the NCAA Tournament; his high school days included a 115-5 record on the court and four state titles; and his college career, with an excellence exemplified by two national championships and his No. 11 jersey hanging in the rafters at Cameron Indoor.

There are a number of characteristics that define not just great leaders, but also gifted mentors of young people. Bobby's passion for coaching comes from his father, Bob, Sr., a legendary New Jersey high school coach and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The deep appreciation he has for family was reflected in three years working with his brother, Dan, currently the head coach at Rhode Island. His five-year playing career in the National Basketball Association and experience as an NBA scout positions him to help our student-athletes realize what it takes to reach the next level. The high standard he puts on character and academics echoes the dedication we have to furthering our rich history of Pac-12 Scholar-Athletes and Academic All-Americans. And he welcomes the challenge and opportunity that lay ahead in building affinity around our men's basketball program.

Bobby made history in just two seasons as the head coach at the University of Buffalo, where he led the men's basketball program to its first-ever Mid-American Conference Title and NCAA Tournament berth. His 42 wins at Buffalo were themost ever for a head coach through their first two seasons, including a record-tying 23 wins in 2014-15, and he mentored back-to-back MAC Players of the Year and two Associated Press Honorable Mention All-Americans. He was a finalist for the 2015 Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year Award, given to the nation's top Mid-Major Coach, and a finalist for the 2014 Joe B. Hall Award, given to the nation's top first year head coach.

Bobby's resume as a collegiate player is extraordinary. He was the point guard for Duke University from 1989-93, one of the greatest college basketball teams in history, and helped the Blue Devils reach three Final Fours and win consecutive national championships in 1991 and 1992. He was a First-Team All-American, the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and his 1,076 career assists still stand as a NCAA record.

On behalf of our entire community, we welcome Bobby, his wife, Leslie, and their three children, Cameron, Sydney, and Bobby, into the Sun Devil Family.

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