Pac-12 Team Previews: Arizona StatePosted by AMurawa on November 1st, 2011
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Strengths. The Sun Devils are big. They’re capable of playing a couple of seven-footers (Ruslan Pateev and Jordan Bachynski) at the same time, with a 6’5” off-guard in Trent Lockett, a 6’3” point in Chris Colvin, and your choice of 6’5”-plus guys at the wing. Additionally, several of those guys are long for their size and guys like Lockett, Keala King, Carrick Felix or starting power forward Kyle Cain have some good hops to pair with their length.
Weaknesses. Of the many weaknesses ASU displayed last season, its inability to rebound the ball was the most damning. They rebounded just 27.8% of their own missed shots, good for 302nd in the nation, but worse they allowed their opponents to grab 33% of their misses. While Herb Sendek-coached teams don’t typically pound the offensive glass, their struggles cleaning the defensive glass need to be fixed, pronto.
Non-Conference Tests. The Devils have a very manageable non-conference schedule, with only a visit from Mountain West favorite New Mexico on 11/18 and a trip to the Old Spice Classic on Thanksgiving weekend providing major challenges. They open the Old Spice with a sneaky-tough matchup against Fairfield (one of the favorites in the MAAC), then get either Dayton or Wake Forest on Friday. Really, if ASU can play well in Orlando, they have a puncher’s chance to make some hay in that tournament, given a relatively weak field.
Toughest Conference Stretch. Right out of the gate, the Sun Devils visit Arizona on New Year’s Eve, then head to southern California the following week for games with USC and UCLA. An 0-3 conference start is not out of the question.
If Everything Goes Right… Jahii Carson gets declared eligible, like, tomorrow, Lockett improves on last year’s improvement and becomes a first team all-conference type of player, Cain dedicates himself to cleaning the boards and adds some offensive punch as well, while one of the big guys becomes a solid Pac-12 center, and ASU at least sniffs the possibility of an upper-division finish.
If Nothing Goes Right… Carson never puts on a Sun Devil uniform this season, neither big guy proves to be ready for prime-time and Cain still gets pushed around in the paint. ASU, though improved, still struggles offensively and limps home with to a sub-.500 conference finish.
Projected Starting Lineup
- PG Chris Colvin (Jr, 6’3” 200 lbs, 3.0 PPG, 1.9 APG in 2009-10 with Iowa State)
- SG Trent Lockett (Jr, 6’5” 210 lbs, 13.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.5 APG)
- SF Carrick Felix (Jr, 6’6” 196 lbs, 4.6 PPG, 1.6 RPG)
- PF Kyle Cain (So, 6’7” 210 lbs, 5.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG)
- C Jordan Bachynski (So, 7’2” 243 lbs, 2.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG)
Even if Carson does get declared eligible tomorrow, he hasn’t practiced with the team yet and would likely need to earn his wings before starting for this squad – until further notice, Colvin is the point guard. The three spot is wide open – it could be Felix, King or even Lockett, especially if Carson gets eligible.
Impact Newcomer. Chris Colvin – While the Carson thing is a shame, Colvin was going to play a huge role for this team regardless. He can play both guard spots, he can shoot the ball well and he can create for others. For the time being, he’ll be a major factor in ASU’s success.
- PG Jahii Carson (Fr, 5’10” 160 lbs)
- SG Keala King (So, 6’4” 185201 lbs, 3.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
- C Ruslan Pateev (Jr, 7’0” 249 lbs, 3.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG)
- SF Chase Creekmur (So, 6’6” 216 lbs, 3.1 PPG, 33.3 3P%)
If Carson remains ineligible, King will pick play an even bigger role for this team. Not only is he expected to be a scorer off the bench for the Devils, he may need to take on the role of backup point. Creekmur is the best returning three-point shooter for ASU, while Pateev will get plenty of time and may even start over Backynski.