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Oregon State Men's Basketball Preview at Arizona State

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Why did I put this picture? To show that ASU basketball is very hard to watch this year and that their fans rather see something else, irrelevant or not.
Why did I put this picture? To show that ASU basketball is very hard to watch this year and that their fans rather see something else, irrelevant or not.

General Info

Opponent: ASU Sun Devils (5-11, 1-3 in Pac 12)

Head Coach: Herb Sendek

I write Men's hoop previews for the House of Sparky (Sun Devils') blog so this is kinda awkward writing a preview against them. But simply put, ASU is a team with very little bodies. Then-leading scorer Keala King is out now, putting immense pressure and responsibility on a core group because so little is around them. Expect their major players to play at least 33 minutes, if not the entire game. But who are these Sun Devils? A look at their roster and style of play after the jump. Note that the stats I'll use is based on the Sun Devils' conference games only, where they are 1-3.

ASU is, to put it mildly, subpar on both ends of the floor. To mask offensive deficiencies, the Devils will slow the game to a crawl, and hope to win in the 50s and 60s. They average 59 possessions a game, miles away from what OSU wants to do: Get out in transition. The one key thing they actually do well is shooting; when they hoist an open shot it is going to go in more often than not: 48% from the floor (2nd), 43% from 3 (also 2nd) are admirable figures for a struggling team. However, they are a subpar offensive rebounding team, rebounding only 29% of their misses. But it's the turnovers that send them over the edge. They average a whopping 17 TOs a game, they give up 28% of their possessions (both are the worst figures by a mile I believe). Passing the rock and avoiding deflections are a chore for this team. In the end, they average around 0.95 points per possession, 10th in the league.

The team is not that good defensively either. Opponents average around 1.11 points per possession. More importantly, opponents shoot 47% and 37% from the field and from 3 respectively. ASU is also poor on the defensive glass, rebounding only 67% of opponent misses, 9th in the conference. Overall, opponents win the rebounding battle 51.8% (10th) to 48.2%. If there's one good thing ASU can do well defensively it's block shots because of their personnel, but more on that in the personnel section.

Now for the Sun Devils themselves:

Trent Lockett is the team's Swiss Army Knife: Primary/leading scorer, primary ballhandler and distributor (since King's departure), key rebounding piece, team captain; the guy has a load to do for his team. He has good size for a wing player and can score from any part of the court, but is most dangerous inside or in the midrange. However, his new roles increased his turnover numbers, and he will likely play through a lot of fatigue thanks to the expanded role. Expect him to at least get the ball in his hands at least once in every possession, at least 10 shots and for him to play well over 30+ minutes

Carrick Felix is theoretically the second scorer behind Lockett. A ridiculous athlete that will give Jared Cunningham a run for his money in a dunk contest. Because of that athleticism he is also an adept slasher once there's an opening, and is not a bad shot swatter himself (leads the team with 1.25). However, besides the hops, Felix is also a very deft 3 point shooter once he gets his feet set. Team's best foul shooter overall, though struggling in Pac 12 play. A high energy player, expect a TON of running and jumping, but tends to disappear at very inopportune times. Expect him to score in bursts (ie. versus Oregon), score around 9 points give or take, and also log a lot of time.

Kyle Cain is the undersized forward who will do most of the team's dirty work inside. Despite his lack of size he leads the team in rebounding. On the offensive end, expect him to shoot from both the immediate basket area. Defensively he is often outmatched by opposing posts due to size and weight mismatches, even though King grabs a good share of his rebounds. He'll be someone else who'll log a lot of time...

Chanse Creekmur does have a good set of hops himself, but is primarily a shooter... shoots a whopping 40% from 3. But he does absolutely nothing else. Expect the guy to chuck up a couple of 3s while on the floor and do nothing else while on it.

Much like Creekmur, Jonathan Gilling is the designated shooter. However, Gilling is much more productive, averaging around 8 points a game at a 47.5% clip from downtown (He lit up UCLA). But much like Creekmur, that's really all he does.

Out of the two massive 7 footers, Ruslan Pateev is the more productive player with 8 points a game against the Pac 12. He scores at the immediate basket area and a little beyond that as well. Converts very well in limited touches, including the FT line (!). Averages 4 boards a game, subpar for a guy his size. Has slightly over 1 block a game. Expect him to just get a couple of touches at the rim because Lockett and Felix will take a ton of the shots.

Jordan Bachynski is the other 7 footer. He'll probably be in so to give Pateev some chance to rest. Didn't do anything significant in the Pac 12. Shoots from the paint area. Also a poor foul shooter, so don't expect him to be at the end of games.

Chris Colvin is supposed to be the team's point guard, but he's right now relegated to a bit role. Actually leads the team in assists per game but like everyone else struggles with turnover. Completely inefficient in shooting the basketball (under 30% from field and from 3).

Game Plan

- The game is largely reliant on tempo. If ASU gets to turn the game into a messy affair (60 possessions), their chances to win triples. OSU must push the ball to wear out the Devils' weak bench and starting group.

- Apply a lot of pressure so turnovers can go through the roof. Allow the defense to work for the Beavs' transition game, not against it.

- Challenge shots. Get a hand up. When ASU takes an open shot they convert them.

- Slash and kick to get their defense (probably a matchup zone) to expand and contract. Slashing will also get some players in foul trouble, which is a no-no for Herb Sendek's squad.

- Rebound the ball, box out Cain especially.

That's it for now. Now to write ASU's preview against you guys. Hmmmm....