The Arizona State Sun Devils just want to hoop.
By the time they can tip against Colorado on Saturday, they will have played one game since December 19. Their only game action over what will be a 28-day period was a 24 point loss to California.
And lately, head coach Bobby Hurley’s team hasn’t even had the opportunity to practice with Hurley joining multiple players in COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s definitely been a rough time,” Hurley said Bickley & Marotta of Arizona Sports on Thursday. “We had a suspected COVID case in the Cal game (Jan. 2), but it was a negative at the time that eventually turned positive, putting the rest of the group in contact tracing.
“We had a significant number of positives, including myself, which was a difficult period. Had a few days where I really didn’t feel well. This is my first experience with it. To taste that I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Hurley said that while the majority of his players were asymptomatic with the virus, he was not so lucky. The head coach was isolated for 10 days and just returned to training on Wednesday.
It’s now a quick turnaround for players returning to action under their head coach.
“It was just pretty hard to get it all together,” said Hurley, who said he hopes his team can find a rhythm starting this week.
For the series of bad luck, ASU (5-8) had found something.
It won in Oregon, against Grand Canyon in Tempe and then in Creighton before that December 19 loss to San Francisco, which is 14-2.
The state of Arizona canceled a game against Florida A&M on Dec. 21 due to power outages at the Desert Financial Arena. A visit to the top 10 squads UCLA and USC over New Year’s weekend was postponed due to COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles schools.
And then a rescheduled Jan. 5 game with the Bruins and a Saturday hosting of rival Arizona was pushed back due to ASU’s case count.
Hurley has tried to stay positive for his players. He has pointed to the rough wins in Oregon and Creighton as proof that his team had found something before the nearly month of barely hooping.
Since ASU isn’t the only team that doesn’t know where it stands in the Pac-12 hierarchy, it’s not hard to find motivation.
“Obviously, Arizona, UCLA and USC have split a little bit … so there’s a lot in the air after those three schools,” Hurley said. “So I think there’s a lot to play for. That was kind of the message (to the Sun Devils).
“We know we can do that when we defend, we’ve had some signature wins in Creighton and Oregon. We know we can compete at that level if we play the right way and play together.”