Devils Not Overconfident Facing Oregon Schools

A young team, such as Arizona State's, can have a tendency to gain a false sense of assurance after a win. However, coach Rob Evans is diligent in guarding against this potentially destructive tendency. The Sun Devil head coach talks about that topic, and previews Oregon and Oregon State, who will travel to Tempe this week.

"I don't think we're overconfident," said the Sun Devil skipper. "It's imperative for us as coaches to keep these guys focused and moving forward. Sometimes after a win, young guys tend to get a little satisfied. But we're a long way from being satisfied. This team is a work in progress. Every day we make sure that they're balanced and working on getting better."

Evans stated that his team excelled in many areas during its inaugural conference win against USC. "Looking at the tape we're getting better in a number of areas," he remarked. "I thought the effort we gave was great. Our concentration was pretty good. We executed well on offense, and kept the floor spread. We attacked better off the dribble."

With several disappointing performances leading up to the USC contest, how does he perceive the reason for the sudden improvement in his squad's play? "As I've said before, some nights this team will play well, and some nights they will make mistakes. I never had a team with eight new guys. It's trying, but we're getting better."

"I think the guys came out against USC with a resolve that they will give effort all the way through," continued Evans. "Looking at the tape, they showed some patience. When they were down by 14 they still executed the game plan beautifully."

Whether it was part of the game plan or not, Ike Diogu only scored seven points in the second half of that game, and rarely touched the ball down the stretch. "We have guys that can do some things if they play around Ike," stated Evans. "And Ike is patient enough to get the basketball back to them if they move with a purpose. The biggest thing was Jason Braxton involving everyone in the offense. I don't think he ever had 12 assists. He was penetrating looking for people, and defensively he was a leader on the floor."

Another player who had a breakout game last Saturday was Jamal Hill. The ASU coach believes that confidence and work ethic have been a big part of Hill's turnaround. "He's a kid that when he hits a couple of shots," said Evans, "his confidence rises. It's a shooter's mentality - shots go in, it plays on both ends. He played against USC like we hoped he would play all year. I think he was moving with a purpose, and got himself open."

"He was very aggressive off the dribble," continued Evans. "We are trying to get him aggressive off the dribble. People run at him because he's a shooter. You have to pump fake and get to the middle of the paint. When you're not the strongest guy in the world, you have a tendency to stay on the perimeter. In the USC game, he had a balance. He shot some threes, but also went to the basket. Most of the games he plays he shoots 7-8 threes. If you shoot that many threes, you're probably not gonna have a great percentage. But if you balance that off with attacking the basket, then you have a better chance to score, and Jamal can score.

Evans offered his thoughts on his team's upcoming opponents. "Oregon is Oregon. They push the ball well in transition, and we have to do a good job getting back (to defend). They shoot the ball extremely well. They have a lot of size, and rebound the ball pretty well. We're gonna see a team that goes up and down the floor, and can put some numbers on you."

Concerning Oregon State, the Sun Devil coach remarked that the Beavers are a carbon copy of his squad. "They're a team that's a little bit more patient (than Oregon)," he claimed. "But they're a young basketball team too. Those guys are getting better, and have been in every game they played. Just like us, some nights they play well and some night they struggle. But they play hard."

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