Fortunately, the Devils were able to regroup and take care of business against Oregon to return to Tempe with a road split. Some newcomers stepped up big as Carrick Felix and Brandon Dunson each broke out offensively.
Stanford came out of the gates in their Pac-10 opener by defeating Cal by 14 at home. Jeremy Green led the way with 21 points for the Cardinal and Dwight Powell came off the bench to put up 20 points while pulling down 7 boards.
Head Coach: Johnny Dawkins (42-36) vs. Herb Sendek (338-218)
G – Jeremy Green (16.8 PPG, 46% 3PT) vs. Trent Lockett (14.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG)
When Landry Fields left, it was unclear if the Cardinal would be able to replace his versatility and production – the answer has been found in Jeremy Green. A stellar shooter than can score with the best of them, Green has been the go-to guy Stanford and he has not let up. Joining him in the lineup are Aaron Bright and Jarrett Mann, both solid players that do a good job taking care of the ball and on the defensive end as well. Off the pine will be Anthony Brown and Gabriel Harris.
Something we learned in Oregon is that even when the starters are out hurt or just plain unproductive, the bench can provide a tremendous spark. Reports from this week tell us the Lockett will likely return to action but if he doesn't, Carrick Felix showed last week he can fill in very capably in his absence. McMillan remains the steady force at the Point but Brandon Dunson will come in more now than ever to help pick up the offense if the team needs a boost. Abbott needs to pick up his play after a strong first half against the Beavers in the Opener – he wasn't impactful enough in the next game and a half. He has to produce for this team to truly take off. Off the bench with Dunson and Felix will be Corey Hawkins who saw some extended minutes last weekend as well as Keala King – a highly touted recruit who is still trying to grasp his role in the system.
Edge – ASU
The Cardinal is one of the more physical teams in the conference with a steady front line in Josh Owens, Jack Trotter with Dwight Powell and Andrew Zimmerman off the bench. Owens is a very good post presence who can score and rebound well. Trotter is a good all-around player who can score if not given proper attention. Powell is a beast who will see considerable minutes whether he starts or is a reserve.
It took a while but Rihards Kuksiks is starting to gel a bit. His shot is gaining more consistency and he will be a factor if he can make his bigger defenders get out of their comfort zone in the post. Kyle Cain is a tenacious rebounder but he needs to get the ball more. His scoring needs to go up and attacking the bucket will get him to the line while getting his defenders in foul trouble. Ruslan Pateev is starting to show more confidence and will come on in relief as will Jordan Bachynski.
Edge – Stanford
Starters. While it's nice to have guys like Felix, Dunson, and Pateev having big games despite not being in the starting five – it's essential that the trio of Seniors starts taking the team on their back and leading by example. McMillan and Kuksiks aren't where they need to be at this juncture while Abbott needs to take his game to the next level. This conference is open for the taking but the taking starts ASAP. Lockett returning is huge and Cain will have an impact but overall, this team needs more production out of the first five to truly have a chance to contend.
Who Will Win and Why
After a rough weekend away, the Sun Devils are back home sleeping in their own beds, eating at Chompies and comfortable in their familiar surroundings. That means ASU will show signs of life and put the Cardinal away in the second half. I expect Jeremy Green to be troublesome but the Sun Devil defense will be effective enough to lead the team to victory.
Final Score – ASU 67 Stanford 62