Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Devils Bust Trojans! (my God, she's pregnant)

I was able to watch the Sun Devil hoops squad for the first time this season thanks to Sunday's national broadcast, and what a game to watch. In seeing box scores and reading write-ups along with message board rants, I still didn't have a good feel for this year's team. The concensus has been that ASU is better than their record and opponents have been leaving Tempe with respect for the Devils. The scores have been close, but I have been wondering how close they are to being a good team.

The truth is, they're really not that close. The effort is there, but the physical skills aren't. There is some talent on the team, but the youth combined with the new system has been too much to overcome. The upsides:

* The Sun Devils play harder than any team I've ever seen. These guys hadn't won since Christmas and the are giving a Final Four effort against a team that ought to be pounding them as they did once already this year. Imagine if they really were playing for something other than pride.

* The defense is there. They still don't have the horses to beat teams with man-to-man coverage and well-coached teams will find ways to attack the zone over time, but good defense is played with heart- something that is firmly in place.

* The confidence is rising. The kids know how close they've been coming to making some serious noise and they're determined to correct the little things that have been keeping them from succeeding. They also pay with great focus. Herb keeps telling the media that this "is a group of winners," even though that hasn't translated into many victories.

* They have 100% bought in to Sendek's system. The players trust Herb, they look up to him, and they have confidence in him- I can't say any of these things about any Rob Evans team.

And, of course, there is a flip side:

* Sunday was the best game they've played all year. Solid, timely shooting can make a poor team look good, especially when three pointers start falling late in the game as they did against USC. This team has been plagued all year by offensive lapses known to stretch entire halves, and there weren't any noticible gaps on Sunday. This won't happen all the time for such a young team.

* No one on this team can dribble-drive the lane. Antwi is the closest thing ASU has to a slasher, but he's not a finisher. Most, if not all, of the clock-winding-down points came off of assists.

* The shooting is scary. Really frightful stuff. When Serge Angounou and Allen Morrill are chucking up threes, bad things will happen. The desert sky was filled with atrocious bricks, and the worst part is that ASU's players are charging the rim for rebounds as these missile shots carom over their heads. Heady rebounding is a skill that isn't easily learned, and ASU hasn't gotten it just yet.

* This team relies too much on the three-pointer. That's really my gripe with Herb's system, but slashers like Harden and McMillan and post players like Boateng will create better and higher quality looks for everybody next year.

* This still isn't a Pac-10 quality team. This fact can't be overstated enough, that no one on the Sun Devils' roster was offered a scholarship by any other conference school. Upsets may happen, but can consistency really be expected yet? Recruiting and time will fix that, though.

The kitties come to town for senior day on Sunday having lost 5 of their last 8 and facing a Sun Devils team with confidence for the first time since long before Ike Diogu left town. It has been said that ASU can't match up with superior athletic teams due to an ineffectiveness against the dribble drive, but the same things were said before the upset of #22 USC. The upper deck will most likely be all red, which will be a daunting environment for this young team. U of A has had problems with self motivation all year, but make no mistake that this ASU team will still be treated as a rival and Lute will have his boys up for it, especially after getting swept last weekend. ASU has earned a spot on the radar of any good team as a trap game, now they just have to set the bait.

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Hey, the Cocks busted the Trojans, too. And Carolina ain't havin' no postseason.

But seriously, it irritates the fuck out of me how they're all like, "We're the real USC." And I'm all, "Well, South Carolina was founded in 1801 -- your state didn't even exist until FIFTY years later! Suck on that!"

It's Miller Time.
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