Temple Preview

Arizona State plays Temple at America West Arena on Tuesday in what will be the first nationally televised game of the season for the Sun Devils. It will be carried on Fox Sports Net beginning at 8:30 p.m. (MST). Here is the DevilsDigest.com preview.

Projected Starters: Temple (1-3)

Mario Taybron, 6-3, 185 Fr.
David Hawkins, 6-4, 215 Sr.
Mardy Collins, 6-6, 210 So.
Antywane Robinson, 6-8, 212 So.
Keith Butler, 7-1, 250

Projected Starters: Arizona State (3-1)

Jason Braxton, 6-2, 190 Jr.
Tron Smith, 6-2, 195 Fr.
Steve Moore, 6-4, 205 Jr.
Wilfried Fameni, 6-7, 230 Fr.
Ike Diogu, 6-8, 250 So.

The clumsy, stuttering adolescence of Rob Evans' Arizona State squad finally caught up with the team in the only place it eventually matters -- the loss column.

In the first road game of the season at Nebraska, and the first road game at the collegiate level, period, for more than half of the roster, the Sun Devils played lackadaisically in yet another first half. This time however, it was too much to overcome and the team suffered its first defeat.

Wince-inducing growing pains have come and gone over the first month of the season and will assuredly continue intermittingly for the foreseeable future. But intermixed with the aches is a knowing sense of the resulting development that will undoubtedly occur as a result.

And in that sense, as the youngsters on this team might say in today's urban vernacular, -- pain is love.

The more-difficult second three-game stage of Arizona State's non-conference schedule ramped up with Nebraska and now continues with a pseudo-home game against the Temple Owls at America West Arena.

Hall of Fame coach John Chaney is known for taking on all-comers and so, upon being contacted by friend Rob Evans and told of the difficulty the Sun Devil were having with scheduling an opponent for this game, decided to bring his Temple squad cross-country, without so much as a second-thought.

It creates a contest, which will likely be decided, one way or another, by the performance of the match-up zone defense Chaney is famously credited with having designed. This suffocating system packs the interior in the half-court and utilizes a unique scheme of switches and shifts that often confounds opponents and reduces the effectiveness of offensive weapons in the post.

There can be no tougher individual test of this defensive scheme than Arizona State's Ike Diogu, quite possibly the most efficient low post player in the nation. To this point in the season however, Diogu has been consistently frustrated by collapsing pressure that regularly involves two or three players coming off of their assignments to converge at his feet every time he touches the basketball.

It is with this in mind that Arizona State must continue to improve as a cohesive unit on the floor. The players surrounding Diogu must improve their cuts and spacing following the post-entry pass, and Diogu himself must recognize where the pressure is coming from and make quick, timely passes to open teammates.

Temple (1-3), having struggled through four games this season, will at the very least provide Arizona State with a first-look at a match-up zone that will be somewhat similar to those it will see from Pac-10 foes Arizona, USC, and Oregon State, among others.

The team features a collection of little-known players that nonetheless, when playing in unison can be relatively impressive. It's a shallow roster with five players averaging 25 or more minutes and only a couple of legitimate role players off the bench.

Kevin Butler is a 7-1 defensive-minded center who is a strong rebounder and shot blocker, but only marginally functional at the offensive end. He stands shoulder-to-shoulder in the defensive interior with Antywane Robinson, another player limited in what he can do offensively but in the lineup predominately based on what he's able to accomplish on the other end of the court.

Most of the Owls' scoring punch comes from the wing in the form of David Hawkins and Mardy Collins. Both are well put-together street-ball-types that can put the ball in the basket, but do so mostly off the dribble or in the scrum underneath.

The duo of Hawkins and Collins is also responsible for the majority of the team's three-point scoring output, but neither is particularly effective in this regard and Temple is a poor-shooting team from beyond the stripe.

At the lead guard position, two freshmen battled it out for the starting nod throughout the fall practice period and even into the non-conference schedule. It appears that Mario Taybron has finally corralled the lion's share of the minutes at this position, but regardless of whether it's been him on the floor or fellow freshman Dustin Salisbery, the Owls have struggled at the point of attack.

In the team's lone win of the season, on Saturday at home versus Drexel, Temple had a mere 8 assists in the game versus 17 turnovers and that ratio has been fairly static throughout the early portion of the season.

With a poor passing team, a poor shooting team, a unique defensive scheme and a savvy, veteran basketball coach, Temple invariably attempts to impose its will by pushing games into a match of physicality and will as opposed to skill and substance.

For Arizona State to gain and maintain control of this contest there must be a concerted effort to stave off this push by Temple to alter the dynamic of the game. If the Sun Devils play patient, intelligent basketball with an emphasis on quick ball movement and fundamental defense with solid footwork, positioning and boxing-out on the glass it should be a relatively easy victory. If not, expect an ugly, close, low-scoring ballgame.

Prediction: Arizona State 66 Temple 59

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