Bobby Hurley expects 'rough' treatment in Tucson

Posted at 5:53 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 21:28:33-05

It's been a quarter century since Bobby Hurley has stepped foot in the University of Arizona's McKale Center.

On that day -- Feb. 24, 1991 -- Hurley and the Duke Blue Devils fell in a double-overtime thriller to Lute Olson and the Arizona Wildcats.

But along with the sting of a tough loss, Hurley remembers the atmosphere in the packed arena in Tucson that day -- and he knows he and his Arizona State Sun Devils can expect more of the same when they take the McKale Center court to face No. 12 Arizona on Wednesday night.

"I remember it being loud at McKale," ASU's first-year head coach said. "It's not an easy place to concentrate with everything that's going on.

"I'm sure (UA fans will) be a little more amped or juiced for the game. We'll expect that. I wouldn't expect anything less than that."

Hurley understands the emotion that goes into rivalry games like few coaches do. After all, he played in college basketball's best rivalry: Duke vs. North Carolina. 

He got his first taste of the ASU-UA rivalry Jan. 2 when the Wildcats beat ASU 94-82 in Tempe. It was your usual noisy game with back-and-forth chants between Sun Devil and Wildcat fans -- and Hurley was ejected late in the game for arguing with officials.

Nonetheless, Hurley said he's received a great deal of respect from UA fans who live in the Valley.

"I'll run into some fans that remember me as a player and say, 'I respect you as a player. I'm excited that you're in the (Pac-12) ... except when you guys play Arizona.'" he said. 

"It's nice to have that. It reminds me of my college days."

Hurley also remembers the relentless taunts that rival fans sent his way at Duke -- and he knows he and his Sun Devils can expect similar treatment in Tucson on Wednesday.

"It's at a different level, there's no doubt, when you put that many people in a building that are passionate about what they believe in," he said.

"I expect it to be rough. It's not going to be easy. But that's a part of the fun."