ASU displays inconsistency in win

What started as an overpowering performance turned into a stagnant offensive night for ASU. The Sun Devils jumped off to an early lead that at its peak was 22 points, yet the team’s offensive virtues slowed down when Bethune-Cookman switched into a two-three zone, as the Sun Devils held on to a 49-39 Monday night.

ASU experienced some noticeable issues when dealing with the Wildcats’ zone defense. Diligent ball movement, particularly into the painted area, is the cure for this type of problem.

There were a few instances where ASU entered the ball into one of the free throw elbows and then swung the ball to the corner, either the player in the corner was wide open or the next rotation of the ball to the wing was open.

That unfortunately is tougher than it sounds.

But even when the team did get open looks Coach Sendek said there were times when it passed up those open opportunities to continue the fluid ball movement. “We just have to rise up and knock some of those shots down,” Sendek said.

The other issue that presented itself for the Sun Devils was the 19 turnovers it gave away in the game.

“If you’re going to turn it over that many times in a relatively low possession game it’s going to be difficult to score as we found out,” Sendek reflected.

At one point in the second half with 50 seconds remaining Bethune-Cookman was within eight points. Mostly due to the team beginning to make its free throws as well as a few timely threes.

Once the lead dipped below 10 points Sendek called a timeout. Exiting the huddle ASU ran pick and roll action that freed up Tra Holder on his way to the basket for a layup. The lead was moved back up to 10 points and would conclude that way after the Wildcats missed its next three-point attempt.

This game was quite frankly won in the Sun Devils’ 33 point first half when Bethune-Cookman’s zone was mostly absent.

During that time period ASU was able to overpower the Wildcats with its talent and ball entry.

In the first half Eric Jacobsen bared the fruits of the entire team’s offensive labor. After Sendek admitted that the team’s previous game did not involve much offensive structure, there was a clear and concerted effort to run plays. Particularly through Jacobsen at the center position.

The 6-foot-10 center finished the game with his first career double-double. Scoring 13 points, securing 10 rebounds, and blocking four shots.

ASU’s second win of the season was because of the large lead it built in the first half. The team learned that it has more work to do when it comes to sustaining its offensive flow against zone defenses.

“Better to learn in a win than learn in a loss,” Jacobsen said in an interview directly following the game.

Monday night the two teams combined to score 88 total points. That is two less than the 86 ASU poured on Chicago State Friday.

“Basketball can be a humbling experience,” Sendek said.

And these kind of humbling experiences are what allow teams to refocus on the facets of the game that need attending to before the meat of the season commences.

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