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ASU Notes

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Let's check in on the ASU Sun Devils. As Coach Howland mentioned yesterday we are going to face a team tomorrow night, which is going to come out play just as hard and be as motivated as the Ducks were at Pauley on Saturday afternoon.

The Devils (17-9, 7-7 in the Pac-10) are in the bubble and they probably need at least two more conference wins to get themselves a sure shot in the Big Dance before heading into the Pac-10 tourney. And this being their last home stand they are going to be in total desperation mode to hold serve on their home court. So if we don't come out with the right intensity on defense, look out.

Those guys are coming off a split road trip against Washington schools winning the back end games against Romar's Huskies (who in Lavineseque manner only seem to get up for big name programs). From Pitchfork Nation:

The men's basketball team won an impressive, if relatively unexciting, road game at Washington Saturday afternoon in which James Harden once again led the Devils with 25 points and 8 boards. Harden had a bunch of help on this occasion as ASU experienced a hot shooting night by finishing the game with a 52 percent shooting total, including 13-25 from 3-point territory. In all, six Sun Devils made a three point field goal during the game and the supporting cast executed throughout the game to seal the win. Ty Abbott supplied 11 points, Derek Glasser contributed 12 points and 7 assists, and the hard charging Rihards Kuksiks dropped 15 points. The quality play out of Kuksiks over the last couple of games has been a pleasant surprise as he is filling the scoring role that was expected out of Jerren Shipp. The Latvian has seemed to rediscover his shooting touch and will hopefully continue to supply the 10-15 points per game that we need from a third or fourth scoring option. ASU next plays UCLA at home on Thursday night at 8:30pm.
That was a much needed win for ASU after getting the throttled by the Cougars earlier in the week. Tonny Bennett's defense held the Devils to 33 percent shooting in a 59-47 loss.

So the Devils are going to be primed and ready to go against our boys tomorrow night. And they are on the national media's radar as one of Pac-10's bubble teams:
The Sun Devils, who often start three freshmen, have blossomed under the patience guidance of second-year coach Herb Sendek, a softspoken 45-year-old from Pittsburgh.

Sendek's first ASU team went 8-22 and lost a school-record 15 straight games, and no one could blame him for padding this year's nonconference schedule with inferior opponents. But with victories over Xavier and Stanford, Arizona State can match quality wins with most teams.

"When we play our best, we're as good as anybody that we've played so far,'' said point guard Derek Glasser, who is ninth in national assist-to-turnover ratio.

At times, the Sun Devils seem intent on boring opponents into submission, although Harden can wake up a gym with his breathtaking slashes to the bucket, punctuated by lefty dunks.

What Arizona State does is hang in there. The Sun Devils have four overtime wins, as many as the rest of the Pac-10 combined.
The Devils hang in there because despite being a little up and down (with a young team) this Pac-10 season, they are grounded on a good schemes both on offense and defense. In case you need a reminder they run a patient Princeton type of offense using motion, screen, and back door cuts. I am sure everyone is going to see how RW matches up against Harden. But I think it will also be interesting to see how Shipp handles Ty Abbott.  Shipp bottled up Abbott during our last game (holding him to 4 pts) but since then Abbott has had some huge games dropping 30 against the Bears (at home) and also making a solid contribution (11 pts) to supplement Harden's stellar effort against Washington.

Also it will be imperative for Love to play solid defense against Pendergraph. We have already discussed Love's intensity in the Oregon game. Love will have to show the same intensity and focus he showed during the closing mins right from the tip off tomorrow night. Because if he doesn't Pendergraph will pose a lot of problem early. So I hope Love is ready along with Mata-Real and AA2 coming off the bench. Pendergraph has been in a slump. However, playing at home in front of what I imagine will be a large crowd will have him all fired up. Love et al will have to keep track of him and make sure he doesn't get going.

It will be a surprise if the Devils do not show their matchup zone. Our guys attacked in pretty aggressively at Pauley. I put together some notes on how to attack the 3-2 zone before that game. If you want a refresher go here.

I wish we could go ahead and play this game tonight. Waiting for late Thursday nights while everyone else in the country is getting in their action is killing me. I am crossing my fingers we come out with total focus and intensity on defense tomorrow. Because if we can play our lockdown defense, I think we are going to be all right. But right now ... the wait is killing me.

Wish we could get this out of the way tonight.