Going 9-0 to start the season is never an easy thing to do. It is even more impressive when two of those wins come by a dominating victory against a really talented Xavier team and a win in one of the hardest environments in the country against one of the best teams in the country, the Kansas Jayhawks. The Arizona State Sun Devils have done just that and have established themselves as one of the best teams in the country. This early success is no fluke however, as this team has depth, athletic skills and are led by a mastermind in Bobby Hurley. Hurley was hired in 2015 to coach the Sun Devils, and has completely turned the program on its head and has them competing at an elite level. Hurley’s fiery passion and exuberant coaching style has caught the nation by storm. His coaching style comes as no surprise though. When Hurley was at Duke, his playing style represented a passion that was handed down to him from his father, the legendary Bob Hurley. The Hurley family is the ultimate definition of a basketball family and are no stranger to experiencing success. As far as the team goes, the Sun Devils are loaded with talent. They are led by their Senior Guard, Tra Holder who is averaging 22 PPG this season along with 5 assists and 5 boards per contest. Holder most recently dropped 29 in Allen Field-house in a win against Kansas and showed the country that he can compete with the best players in the nation.
If holder can remain healthy and continue his dominance that he has already shown he is capable of, I truly believe that Arizona State is a legit contender to run the table and win the National Championship this year. Holder will not have to do it all by himself however. He is complemented in the back court by senior guard, Kodi Justice who is averaging 15 points a game. The combination between these two senior guards, makes the Sun Devils back court one of the most dangerous in the entire country. They can also score the ball down low and rebound the rock at a high rate with the help of their freshman forward sensation, Romeo White who has been a mean lean rebounding machine to start his college career.
Coming into the preseason, the Sun Devils were an afterthought in the Pac 12. All of the attention however was focused on their rivals, the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats came into the year as the second ranked team nationally and to many, they were considered to be a strong national champion contender. These thoughts were quickly proven wrong however when Arizona lost 3 non-conference games in a row, dropping them out of the national polls. Although Arizona has the bigger names and perhaps the flashier players such as Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier, Arizona State has proven that their team chemistry and experience lead to a better brand of basketball. This one and done generation we live in is just not going to cut it. You might get lucky once in a while like the 2012 super team like the Kentucky Wildcats did, but the brand of basketball that is going to succeed is going to be the team that is led by seniors and a team that has built chemistry throughout years, not just one season. This theory has been proven true and the last national champions were a perfect example of it. Last years National Champion, the North Carolina Tar Heels were led by their senior forward, Isaiah Hicks and junior forward, Justin Jackson. The year before that, Villanova won a National Championship without a national superstar, but rather an experienced, close-knit bunch. They were led by a pair of seniors in Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. They also had an unexpected hero in junior guard Kris Jenkins, who hit the game winning shot to give the Wildcats the ultimate prize, a National Championship. I truly believe that the best basketball is going to come from a team that is experienced and has built a strong chemistry and I really think nowadays people are not realizing the importance of that chemistry in the game of college basketball. That is why we see all these big upsets in the tournaments. These mid major schools who are filled with senior leaders, come in as brothers who have played with each other for four years and beat a bunch of talented, young, inexperienced freshman. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often to be honest. The moral of this story is although Arizona State may not be the most talented team on paper and may not be filled with 5 star recruits, they are an experienced bunch who have built that all important bond with each other. Do not be surprised if you see them cutting down the nets come early April.