"They were talented last year and they are talented this year," said Arizona State guard Jamelle McMillan. "They play well in positions 1 through 5. They can score the basketball, they defend and they are well coached. So that one year experience has helped them out a lot."
In the last rivalry meeting Arizona prevailed on their home court 80-69. McMillan believes that his squad is much improved since that contest in Tucson.
"We competed but we sent them to the free throw line," McMillan recalled, "and they were lights out shooting from the free throw line in that game. It's a deal where right now our rotations are a little bit better on the back line. Our 4's and 5's are getting out the corners and rotating a little bit better. But at the same time we have to keep in tight, try to limit the paint touches because they have three, four guys where if they get into the paint it will be a problem."
"He's crafty," McMillan commented. "He can use both hands and that is hard to defend. Derrick does a great job maneuvering 15 feet and in. He has no particular spot on the floor. He can play on the left side he can play on the right side, the free throw line area and he plays above the rim. When you have a guy that skilled, with that basketball IQ, he's a force to be reckoned with."
The versatility factor is something that was also noted by ASU's head coach Herb Sendek.
"He scores in a variety of ways," Sendek said. "He has excellent strength and tremendous body control. We are talking about a guy who undeniably is one of the top couple basketball players in the United States. His numbers reflect that and his team is winning. His double doubles are usually 20 points and not 10 and 10. His teammates are made better because of his presence.
"The thing that impresses me about him is that he is consistent. Some guys disappear for a few games, they're in foul trouble, didn't shoot well and two weeks later they play well again. I don't see that with him. They have a game – he plays well. They have another game he plays well again."
During Sunday's game Arizona State will honor former Phoenix Suns owner and the national director of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo, for his support of Arizona State Athletics and the sport of basketball in Metropolitan Phoenix.
McMillan's father Nate, was an assistant coach for Team USA during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an event that the ASU senior attended as well. It was a period of time where he naturally got an up close and personal impression of one the most influential figures in the sport.
"He is a guy that I didn't know much about and got to learn about very quickly," McMillan acknowledged. "He is truly an inspiration to a lot of people. He is very successful and has done a lot of successful things especially here with the Phoenix Suns.
"He is a guy that you would definitely want to have in your corner and would love to be working for. Much respect to Mr. Colangelo and his family."