Washington State Preview

After an unusual split on their trip to Oregon, the Sun Devils (14-5, 3-4) return home to face the Washington State Cougars (8-8. 3-5) at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday night. DevilsDigest.com previews the WSU Cougars.


Head Coach: Dick Bennett (2nd year)
Associate Head Coach: Tony Bennett
Assistants: Mike Heideman, Ben Johnson

Projected Starters

G Derek Low 6-1 177 Fr. (5.5 pts, <1.0 asst/turnover)
G Thomas Kelati 6-5 194 Sr. (12.1 pts, 2.9 asst, 38.3% 3-pt)
G Kyle Weaver 6-5 185 Fr. (5.8 pts, 3.5 rebs, 1.8 asst)
C Robbie Cowgill 6-10 200 Fr. (5.6 pts, 3.6 rebs, 1.1 blk)
F Jeff Varem 6-6 240 Sr. (10.3 pts, 8.1 rebs, 51.2% FG)

Impact Reserves

F Chris Schlatter 6-7 220 Sr. (4.4 pts, 2.9 rebs)
G Josh Akognon 5-11 185 Fr. (5.0 pts, 1.5 rebs)
G Randy Green 6-4 187 Jr. (2.6 pts, 1.1 rebs)
F Daven Harmeling 6-7 215 Fr. (2.4 pts, 1.4 rebs)


The first thing that is easy to notice about Dick Bennett's Cougars is that they are very young. Five of the nine players that get much of the playing time are freshmen. This is partly due to the injury to senior forward Shami Gill; however, WSU would be relying on significant minutes from freshmen even if Gill were healthy.

As with all Dick Bennett teams, the Cougs will try to slow the game down as much as possible and use up much of the 35-second clock when on offense. In fact, Wazzu won a game this year in which they only scored 37 points, beating Idaho by one.

There are really only two scoring threats for WSU, Kelati and Varem. The other players are the pawns in Bennett's chess match. They will fill roles – passing the ball, setting screens, and being in the right place at the right time. Just don't look for them to get many opportunities to score unless they manufacture their own opportunities with second chance or garbage points due to hustle plays. Kelati and Varem will do the bulk of the shooting.

Defensively, the Devils must be very patient and not get lazy deep in the shot clock. This is what Bennett's offense is predicated upon. If ASU can stay focused for the entire shot clock, they should be able to hold the Cougs' scoring in check. They are not an explosive team if they don't get easy buckets from mental breakdowns.

Offensively, ASU needs to speed up the tempo as much as possible. It appears that 60 is the magic number for the Sun Devils. The Cougars have not won a game this year in which they allowed 60 points or more to be scored by the opponent; however, they have only let teams score 60 points on four occasions.

This game will be a test of ASU's patience and focus. WSU's style of play can wear a team down mentally and cause sloppy mistakes because of impatience. If ASU can stay patient and get the ball inside to Diogu, they should win this game.

It is actually very important for ASU to beat WSU for a few reasons. First, it gives the team some confidence heading into Sunday's showdown with UW. Second, it gets ASU back to even in conference play and keeps NCAA Tournament hopes alive. Third, the team that has won the first ASU-WSU game of the season has swept the series each of the last nine years.

Patience and defense are the keys to a victory. We'll see if the Devils can stay focused after a big win in Eugene.

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