The more you read about the Washington Huskies' 1 p.m. game today, the more bleak the outlook becomes for Arizona State.
azcentral.com blogs - Doug Haller on ASU basketball - DougHaller - ASU-Washington State rewind
This is the first time all season where I thought ASU lacked effort. The Sun Devils, minus three players, including starter Carrick Felix, played as if they didn't think they had much of a chance. They opened with energy -- crashing the offensive boards -- but once Washington State built a lead, they seemed to accept their fate, especially in the second half. Nothing worse than a desperate team playing without desperation.
Yeah, there's a reason they play the games and all that, but UW has the capacity to demoralize a team as quickly as anyone with their defense and athleticism at all five positions.
Making matters worse is that ASU isn't even poised to exploit UW's biggest weakness.
Key statistic: ASU is not at all a good rebounding team
The one proven way to beat the Huskies is to beat them on the glass, particularly on the offensive glass - Arizona's first half rebounding on Thursday led to an 8-3 advantage in second-chance points.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the Sun Devils will be able to replicate that.
College Sports Matchups | Preview: Arizona State at Washington
KEY STATISTIC: The Huskies’ post players like their matchup against the Sun Devils. Washington averages 40.7 rebounds and figures to get plenty of second chances against Arizona State’s guard-heavy lineup, which ranks last in the Pac-10 in rebounding margin.
Just to put ASU's rebounding struggles in perspective, they are currently 291st in the nation in rebounding percentage this season and that's only gotten worse during conference play.
As Doug Haller of AZCentral.com describes, rebounding is just one of many things that this relatively young team is struggling with right now.
Do you feel like you need to go back to the drawing board?
"Right now our deal isn't to come up with some master trickery. We're a team right now that has to learn how to block and tackle. There's no genius plan. That's not what is necessary right now. We got to have guys produce and perform and we have to get better at the very basics of the game.
And although they do have two seven-footers on their roster, UW coach Lorenzo Romar suggests that they're still just in the middle of a rather standard learning process for big men.
"Eric Boateng - another seven footer, 6'11" - as time went on, I remember at the end of the year they were going to him exclusively," said Romar when asked specifically about the development of ASU 7-foot-2 freshman center Jordan Bachynski. "I remember, against UCLA at Arizona State, they couldn't stop it - they just kept going to him. But You couldn't have convinced that that would've been the case early in his career. So it does take big guys a little longer at times."
But for today, they're going to have to find someone to help in the boards while their younger bigs - Bachynski and 7-foot sophomore Ruslan Pateev - learn to "block and tackle".
Players to watch:
Kyle Cain, F (6-foot-7, 210 pounds, Fr.)
Cain hasn't started since early in conference play, but still leads the team in rebounding with 6.1 per game and is their best rebounder by percentage on both ends of the court. If the Sun Devils hope to contend on the boards, he'd still likely be a major factor in that.
Given the team's shooting percentages as well, his scoring efficiency - third on the team - might also be useful, although he hasn't been a major factor in the scoring column
Trent Lockett, G (6-foot-4, 210 pounds, So.)
While Romar noted that seniors Ty Abbot and Rihard Kuksiks shoulder the majority of the burden for this team, Lockett - the team's second-leading scorer - is arguably their most valuable player statistically. In addition to being the most efficient score on the team, Lockett has the team's highest free throw rate, which means a lot given their occasional scoring struggles.