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2015 Pac-12 Men's Basketabll Media Day: Arizona State has a sense of urgency under Bobby Hurley

Oct 15, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — The first year of a new head coaching tenure is as much about establishing a culture and setting a foundation as it is about winning a lot of games. While wins are great, expectations for a ton of ‘em in the first year aren’t that high.

That might be the case for outsiders with respect to Arizona State, which is picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12 by the media and has been to just two NCAA tournaments in the last 12 seasons.

That being said, there’s reason for optimism for Arizona State men’s basketball… now. The Sun Devils return four starters from a team that surprised many by going 9-9 in conference and defeating the defending NCAA champion UCONN Huskies in the first round of the NIT. Combine that with the infused energy of a new coach in Bobby Hurley who likes to really push the pace, and you have a team has reason to believe it can contend for an NCAA berth.

[Related: 2015-16 Arizona State men's basketball schedule]

“You want to create an expectation of winning at a high level as soon as possible, and there are guys that have the urgency in the program to want to see that happen right now, like the guy sitting to my right,” Hurley said at 2015 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day, pointing to senior guard Gerry Blakes. “Several other veteran players … want to experience the NCAA tournament. That’s what we have our sights set on right now.”

To help foster a transition from Herb Sendek to Hurley that will hopefully bring more wins right away in the eyes of Arizona State fans, Blakes has taken on the role of being the coach on the floor for the Sun Devils.

“For me being a senior, the urgency is definitely there,” Blakes said. “I just try to echo some of the things that he says to our players and … also put myself in a position to help our team and be that coach on the court, because someone has to establish that with him being the new guy here, and I wanted to be that.”

The Sun Devils will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins before the turn of the calendar year, as the Sun Devils play NC State in Brooklyn (followed by Marquette or LSU) Texas A&M at home and Kentucky and UNLV on the road in the non-conference portion of their schedule.