Bobby Hurley on Wednesday defended his relationship with Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson after a report emerged saying there was a rift between them.
The Arizona Republic’s Craig Harris and Anne Ryman published a report on Wednesday saying Hurley sent an email to Anderson in December, 2019 that criticized the athletic director for a lack of response to an Arizona State booster’s sexual harassment.
A former Arizona State basketball employee, David Cohen, filed a $1.5 million notice of claim against the school in February, saying he was fired for reporting allegations of sexual harassment by booster Bart Wear. Wear filed a lawsuit in response denying the allegations and claiming he was being extorted.
In his email, Hurley told Anderson that the AD “disregarded the safety and shown no sensitivity towards the women that have experienced sexual assault. You have chosen to create your own numeric scale on what sexual assault means which is disturbing.”
Anderson responded by saying Hurley’s accusations were baseless.
After the report about the email came out on Wednesday, Hurley sent a text message to Harris saying his relationship with Anderson was strong.
Just received this text from @asu coach @BobbyHurley11: "My relationship with Athletic Director Ray Anderson today is strong. We will work together, alongside my outstanding coaching staff, toward the continued success of Sun Devil Men's Basketball."
The turn of the calendars to a new year can mean only one thing for college basketball: Conference play is here!
The first two months of non-conference play can feel like the first quarter of a thoroughbred race. Jockeys move, shake, and jostle for positioning, but no mistake can truly cost a potential champion of their chance to win down the stretch. Teams from across the country play games that matter on their resumes but feature teams that will look and play differently than those we’ll be watching in March. True freshmen can look lost or unpolished. Veterans can dominate. Sleepy arenas in ignored holiday tournaments can lead to puzzling results.
Conference play, however, is here to save the day. Now we get to see packed student-sections (once all students return from winter break) and the rivalries we know and love. This is when college basketball hits its stride and we can really begin to assess every team on a familiar playing field.
Here, then, is the early front-runner for each power conference championship:
ACC – Duke
The Blue Devils are unquestionably the most talented team in the conference, but Duke’s schedule isn’t without its fair share of challenges. Coach K’s squad will play five road games against the KenPom Top 50, including three games against teams in the KenPom Top 10.
Virginia, though still undefeated this season, arguably has a tougher slate through conference play. The Cavaliers have six road games against top 50 competition still to come. Virginia and Duke are scheduled for a home-and-home that could provide the inside track to the regular season conference championship. Those two games will feature a radical clash in styles, with the Hoos forcing Duke to play at a slower pace. If Duke’s athletes are still able to force the issue in the halfcourt and use their speed and size to maximize their scoring chances, the Blue Devils can be successful against Virginia. If the Cavaliers can force RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson to settle for jump shots, they’ll have a tougher time in Charlottesville.
North Carolina will remain part of the race to the top of the conference as well if Coby White continues to play like an All-American. Of the three teams, Carolina has looked the most like a work in progress, but also sports the best win of any ACC club, as they handled Gonzaga fairly easily.
In the end, Duke’s top-level talent likely comes out on top. Even if they drop a game to UNC or UVA, the Blue Devils stars make them less susceptible to losing any other unexpected games in conference.
The basketball season is still very young, with most teams playing five or fewer games so far. Right now, teams are jockeying for position like horses out of the starting gate before the first turn. The top teams are looking to keep pace with their fellow thoroughbreds. Teams on the fringes are trying to earn respect and build a resume for March. There are also a number of plucky future Cinderellas stealing wins on the road and sneaking into the national conversation.
As the college basketball landscape takes shape, there have been a number of teams who have exceeded and failed to meet preseason expectations. These ten stand out among that group.
It’s impossible to start anywhere besides the main line, where the defending National Champions have stumbled out of the gates. Villanova lost four key cogs from the team that cut down the nets last April to the NBA, leaving behind a mish-mash of returnees and newcomers. The Wildcats have now played three games in the shiny new Finneran Pavilion on campus, but have won just once (against lowly Morgan State).
Against Michigan in a title game rematch, the Wildcats looked utterly lost and outmatched. The game was never close and Villanova did next to nothing successfully. A blowout like that can seem like a bump in the road, especially against a talented team like the Wolverines, led by one of college basketball’s best coaches.
Any notion of that game being a one-time worry was erased when Villanova dropped its next game to Furman. The Paladins have been surprisingly good this season (more on that in a moment), yet have nowhere near the talent of Villanova.
The trouble early on for Jay Wright and the gang has been figuring out how to use that talent. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall have both been role players on great teams, yet neither appears ready to make the leap to stardom. Collin Gillespie and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree were young last year, yet are being asked to contribute at a higher level than they are capable of providing. Finally, the biggest disappointment to date has been highly heralded recruit Jahvon Quinerly. The five-star prospect is shooting 25 percent from the floor and has posted more turnovers than assists. His minutes have been extraordinarily limited, and Quinerly never saw the floor at all in the Furman game
It’s clear that Jay Wright is concerned with what Quinerly has shown in limited playing time or behind closed doors in practice. Unfair or not, Villanova fans were relying on Quinerly to make an immediate impact in helping fill the shoes of Jalen Brunson. Until he’s ready to contribute, expectations have to be shifted for the defending champs.
Rooting for a team on the NCAA Tournament bubble is a unique experience. Unlike any other sport, teams on the fringes of success pray for a chance to keep playing, with only so much control over the situation. Sure, they could win their conference tournaments, but many face long roads and brutal opponents between themselves and a conference tourney title.
Unlike the first college football team left out of the playoff, most of these teams are supremely flawed. They didn’t win their conference and weren’t ranked near the top of the polls all year. These are teams that just want a chance to prove they aren’t mediocre and make some noise in March. With conference tournaments very much underway, here’s our look at 11 bubble teams hanging on by a thread. Some have a chance to earn their way, but others are already at home, watching and hoping.
1. Notre Dame
The Irish are one of the most interesting bubble teams in years. Notre Dame is only 20-14 on the season, but lost nine of those games without star forward Bonzie Colson. The Irish were also without the services of point guard Matt Farrell in four of the games they lost without Colson. The selection committee has long claimed to take injuries into consideration. Notre Dame will put that theory to the test. Colson and Farrell are both back in the lineup, leading to a win over Virginia Tech early in the conference tournament. The Irish then lost to Duke Thursday, which would have been the kind of win to earn them a bid. Now, like the other teams listed here, they wait.
With a shade over a week remaining until Selection Sunday, teams near the top of the bracket and on the bubble all across the country are looking to make a case to the tournament committee. Conference play is wrapping up and will come to a head during Championship Week. Automatic bids will be handed out to conference champions, while other bids and seeds will be earned in games throughout this week. Every single team playing in a conference tournament has a chance to make their run in March, though these ten have something extra to play for or to prove this week.
The team at the heart of the current drama in the sport is also in a precarious situation in a basketball sense. With head coach Sean Miller embroiled in controversy involving the FBI, wiretapped phone calls, and illegal benefits, the Wildcats have lost three of their last seven games. In addition to questions about Deandre Ayton’s eligibility, scoring guard Allonzo Trier has been suspended for a substance found in a drug test. Trier was cleared to play and scored 18 points Thursday night versus Stanford.
While Arizona has no worries about making the NCAA Tournament, and even their seed won’t be affected too much, their play in the Pac-12 Tournament could speak volumes about their ability to compete for a Final Four. A distracted Arizona team that gets bounced early in the conference tournament would limp into the Big Dance, ready to be picked off in the early rounds.
Now that conference play is fully in swing, college basketball’s season is starting to make a little more sense. Every game is like another piece added to the puzzle that makes the landscape of the sport make a little more sense. With most teams having played half their games now, including a few tough ones in their league, it’s easier to see which teams hot or slow starts aren’t just an aberration.
We have enough evidence to know which teams out there have been a real pleasant surprise and which are starting to fall flat. Here are the ten teams across the nation with the most surprising starts to the season, good or bad.
Expectations were not exceptionally high for the Badgers this season with stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes graduating. Still, Wisconsin returned star center Ethan Happ, a host of other contributors, and found itself receiving votes in the preseason AP Poll. After playing the 172nd ranked nonconference schedule (per KenPom) and six Big Ten games, the Badgers are sitting at 9-10.
Happ has not been the problem, as he is posting 16.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. The junior center has posted a 10.6 box plus/minus (BPM), which measures points added above an average player to an average team over 100 possessions. No other Badger’s BPM is over 4.0 this season. When Happ is off the floor or being double-teamed, players like Khalil Iverson and Brevin Pritzl, who were expected to contribute, have fallen flat. Happ has the 8th highest usage rate in the country, a scary stat for a player who has attempted just 4 threes in his career and shoots under 55 percent from the foul line.
College basketball’s first semester has come to a close. For the casual fan, this means the season has barely begun, but for the diehard followers, so much has already taken place. Top teams have crumbled, surprising contenders have emerged, and star players have made their mark on the landscape. Despite the best efforts of all parties involved, the college basketball schedule early on fails to really attract attention.
Now as the calendar turns, teams are sliding into conference play with more on the line. Beyond bragging rights, tournament bids and seeds are there for the taking. Teams, both good and bad, are now required to step out of their comfort zone and play true road games in front of packed crowds. This is where the season truly begins to get chaotic. Before that happens though, it’s crucial to look back at what has already occurred and what events will set the stage for the rest of the season.
10. LiAngelo Ball’s departure from UCLA
The middle brother of the most boastful family in basketball was never going to make an impact at UCLA this season. He was given a scholarship mostly as part of the Bruins’ recruiting of his older brother Lonzo, who is now with the Los Angeles Lakers. LiAngelo entered his freshman season as an undersized forward with few skills other than an outside jumpshot. In the span of a four-year career, he may have developed into a contributor.
A player of his caliber being mentioned on this list is no easy feat. For the college basketball world to care about LiAngelo Ball, he had to become part of an international incident, reportedly involving two of the world’s most powerful figures, when he and two teammates were arrested in China for shoplifting. After a few presidential tweets and a flight home, the Ball family chose to pull LiAngelo from college. Fans of the collegiate version of basketball let out a collective sigh of relief as LaVar Ball became someone else’s problem.
Tis the season for hot chocolate, Christmas presents, spending time with family, and fights during college basketball games. For the second time in just over a week, players can expect to face suspensions for fighting during a game. This time, the culprits came from Arizona State and Southern Miss.
On Monday night during the first half of Southern Miss’ 64-61 victory over the Sun Devils, Torye Pelham snuck a cheap shot in on Arizona State’s Ruslan Pateev after a basket was scored. Pateev then jogged up behind him and sucker-punched him in the back of the head. A scrum broke out after the exchange which resulted in three players being ejected. Check out the Arizona State-Southern Miss fight video:
Fights like this and the one between Xavier and Cincinnati over a week ago are unacceptable. There was no need for Pelham to whack Pateev in the face and certainly no need for Pateev to punch him in the back of the head. Thankfully, no player from either side referred to their team as a “bunch of gangsters” after the game, but there’s still no excuse for a lack of self control like that. Both players can expect suspensions similar to the ones that Yancy Gates and company were given, which still won’t be enough.