Season opening win unsatisfying

The 2011-2012 ASU men's basketball season is officially underway and the maroon and gold were able to start their season with 78-72 win over the Montana State Bobcats. Although the road to that victory may not have been ideal, a win is a win for the Sun Devils.

"We would have liked to end it a little bit differently," guard Trent Lockett commented. "We had a 10-point lead with about a minute and a half left. We would have liked to extend it than see it shrink but its good to get a win and Montana State is a great team so we're happy to walk away with the win."

There were few positives from Friday's performance at Wells Fargo Arena but the standout was the Sun Devil's ability to make free throws, something that plagued the team last season.

The maroon and gold shot 80 percent from the line with forward Kyle Cain going 4-4 and center Ruslan Pateev shooting 6-6.

"I think our big guys did a great job at the line," Lockett said. "I think they were 10-10. Other than that we have a lot to work on, it's still early in the year but I was happy with how our big guys shot the ball from the line and that's about it right now."

Friday's performance showed several of the flaws in the young maroon and gold unit, including 22 turnovers throughout the matchup.

"Some were just careless," Lockett admitted. "Some timing possessions, just a multitude of different things coming off the turnovers. It's definitely something we'll look at on film and try to fix coming into next week."

The Sun Devils were out rebounded by the Bobcats throughout the entire contest, with only 12 offensive rebounds to the Bobcats 17.

"Continuing from last year, they out rebounded us. They got 17, second shots and that's a stat we will definitely try to fix and we'll look at what we can do on film. Really its just aggression and going to the ball. It's not all about size; it's a lot of ‘want to' as well."

One of the new additions to the Sun Devil roster is transfer guard Chris Colvin. Colvin, taking over the point guard responsibilities added an element that the maroon and gold offense has lacked throughout the years by driving into the lane and creating unique passing angles for his teammates.

With only four weeks of practice prior to Friday's season opener, it was evident that the rest of the Sun Devils were still adjusting to their new teammates style of play.

"He's a great player and he can create a lot of different opportunities for other guys in the lane," Lockett commented. "Maybe guys are getting used to it and getting used to different situations when they're not used to receiving the ball when he throws the behind the back pass or something like that but I think our big guys are getting used to it."

Lockett himself had a standout performance during the season opener. The junior lead the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds against the Bobcats, starting the season off on the right foot.

"I think we just had a good week at practice and preparing for this team," Lockett commented. "Coach Pera did a good job of personnel, we knew where their shooters were so we were ready for the team coming in and I just tried to do what the team needed on the floor."

Aside from Lockett, sophomore guard Keala King showed his improvement since last season as well as his dominance on the court putting up 16-points and 8 rebounds.

"Keala has done a great job of improving," Lockett said of his teammate. "It's a lot of mental for him, he's more in tune in the game and he is always there to help his teammate. He is kind of putting it all together."

With 1 minute left in the contest, the Sun Devils lead by 10 but quickly saw that lead diminish to only 6 as the Bobcats fought to come back but in the end, the maroon and gold we able to prevail.

"I don't even really look at the score board, I just look at the shot clock," King admitted. "I look at the time we have to be on the court so when they were coming back up, I didn't look at it as we have to play harder, I just looked at it as we have to play our game."

The maroon and gold offense showed a different look than previous years under head coach Herb Sendek. The unit typically relies on set plays, but this year with a more open look, the Sun Devils are looking to prove they're also a running team.

"We have this play called ‘burn' and we like to get the ball and push instead of how we used to play, to get the ball and call out a set play but this year is a lot different because we don't really look to do set plays, we just look to pass the ball and burning as we should say.

"We just want to establish ourselves as a running team, not just a team that is going to get the ball on offense and call out set plays."

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