30.Dec.2010 Conference Opener: Arizona State @ Oregon State
At this moment, 4pm, I am completely jacked about tonight's home opener. Over the past two games, Craig Robinson has found his lineup (having Roberto Nelson helps) and substitutions. The past game, Lathan Wallace and Calvin Haynes played around 10-15 minutes each, which is still too much, but a big step in the right direct.
What I also loved to see was that Robinson is learning the value of Collier. He's great at zone and man defense, has a good mid-range shot, and is the only player on the roster with an ACC or Big East body. The guy is, in my opinion, the best of the young crop. That can change as time goes on, but what I see is a player who makes all the right decisions. I have yet to see Collier botch (see Joe Burton for the antithesis) any facet of the game. Brandt is another player coming on strong. What I love about these two is the solid fundamentals that a more athletic player like Jared Cunningham seems to lack.
One more thing I'd like to mention: what I saw last game was a team playing with confidence. It makes all the difference in the world. Now, can Arizona State break that confidence with a few early baskets? Most definitely, and my hunch is that will happen. But my overall point is that I have kept saying I believe this team will have a watershed moment at some point this season; while we are not sure that happened last week, we did see what things will look like when it does.
Below is the scouting report on Arizona State:
SCOUTING ARIZONA STATE: Arizona State enters the game on a four-game winning streak and a 7-4 overall record. The Sun Devils are led by 2009-10 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Herb Sendek and are the only Pac-10 team to win 20 games in each of the past three seasons. ASU returns three senior starters and five lettermen from last year's second-place Pac-10 team that finished 22-11 overall and 12-6 in Pac-10 play. Sophomore guard Trent Lockett leads the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game and is shooting 57 percent from the field. Seniors Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks average double-figures in scoring at 12.8 and 11.5 points per game, respectively.
Arizona State plays a tough zone defense. Expect a ton of passing around the perimeter from the Beavers and many frustrating offensive possessions. To win this game, OSU will need to play intense defense, as they will not score more than 60 points. My key players to watch are Jared Cunningham and Devon Collier. Why? Because I think slashing to the basket is the way the Beavers win this game, and these are the two guys who can do it. If they can succeed, also watch for Nelson and Starks on kickout passes. That's how you'll see a semblance of offense tonight. If play in the paint falters, or they settle for long jump shots, expect a long night for the Beavers.
TV/Radio: FSN Northwest, KPAM (860 am)