Arizona State Week: What To Expect In 2012-13Posted by AMurawa on June 15th, 2012
After a week’s worth of breaking down the Sun Devils, it is time to give a way-too-early preview as to their chances in 2012-13. With six newcomers, some of whom are expected to play very big roles, five returnees who could see a change in their roles, and the possibility of an increased tempo, there are plenty of questions whose answers will remain unknown until we get a chance to see this team in action. But, that never stopped anybody from making wild, relatively unfounded predictions based on limited information. So away we go.
ASU’s Leading Scorer – Evan Gordon. Jahii Carson could lead the team in scoring if he wanted to, but the Sun Devils would likely be better off if he doesn’t. Carson’s primary role should be distributing the ball to his teammates and when necessary hitting the jumper or driving the lane to score. But wings like Gordon and senior Carrick Felix could be the beneficiaries of Carson’s playmaking ability. Not only can Gordon score in transition, but he can hit the three or drive to the hoop and create in the lane. This will likely be a team with balanced scoring (four players on this team could score in double figures), but we’ll give the nod to Gordon as the likely go-to scorer in the halfcourt.
ASU’s MVP – Jahii Carson. Assuming he lives up to expectations, the Sun Devils should be much better with his presence. Last year, in the absence of a steady point guard, ASU turned the ball over at an egregious rate. Carson should not only help the team cut down on turnovers, but he should also be capable of getting the ball to ASU’s best offensive options at the times and places where they can be most effective. And, if all else breaks down, he has the ability to create an opportunity for himself at the end of the shot clock, erasing bad end-of-clock looks that were a staple of ASU’s 10-21 year last season.
ASU’s Most Improved Returnee – Jordan Bachynski. It’s not the Bachynski should be expected to be a completely different player than he was at the end of last season. It’s that it is entirely reasonable that the player we saw over the final third of the season last year could be the player that we see over the course of the entire season next year. He’s 7’2” – that’s definitely one thing he’s got going for him – but beyond that, he’s got skills to pair with his size. He can run the floor, block shots, and has good touch around the basket. If he can continue to knock down his free throws at a rate anywhere near what he was doing at the end of the season, he could be a double-figure scorer from November to March.
ASU’s Conference Record/ Finish – 8-10/7th Place. After four conference wins two years back, Arizona State progressed to six wins last year, albeit in a significantly worse conference. We’ll go out on a limb and predict another two-win improvement, putting the Sun Devils on the edge of an upper division placement. This will likely be a more optimistic guess at the Sun Devils’ chances than most other prognosticators will make, but this is doable. A real point guard will make a huge difference for Herb Sendek’s team as will the improved talent on the wings, and despite a couple of down years, Sendek can really coach. The conference schedule doesn’t really do the Sun Devils any favors, though. UCLA and Arizona would appear to be the two teams favored atop the conference, and ASU will get to see each of those teams twice. They’ll visit Oregon and Oregon State without return visits, while they’ll host Stanford and California without having to return to the Bay Area. So, in order for the Sun Devils to approach this eight-win mark, they may have to steal some road victories, with their Oregon trip, along with the Utah, Washington State and USC roadies being the most likely spots for those to occur.