"Decent, could have been better," senior Eric Boateng said of his teams energy on the court. "I don't want to blame it on the trip but we played hard and Arkansas Pine-Bluff competed very hard and we were fortunate to come out with the victory."
Unlike previous games this season, the Sun Devils were not as successful rebounding as in previous games. The Lions were the first team to out-rebound Coach Sendek and his squad, accumulating 14 less than their opponent. Relying heavily on Eric Boateng will not always be enough for the team; a collaborative effort needs to be made on the boards.
"I think we just have to do a better job focusing on rebounding and blocking out," Boateng commented. "That's something we're definitely going to have to get better at doing."
"That's been kind of our deal so far this year and it's got to continue to improve," McMillan pointed out. "We have to rebound from positions one through five. We can't rely on Eric down there by himself or Ruslan when he's in the game. They did beat us on the boards tonight so it's something we've got to clean up, especially if we want to win Thursday."
Boateng is quickly becoming a powerhouse for the Sun Devils, leading the team with 17 points during tonight's matchup. Since last year the senior has improved in several areas, including his free-throws consistency. Shooting 5-7 from the line against the Lions, Boateng makes his presence known and will continue to be utilized by his teammates.
"Most definitely, I think he's found himself," McMilan said of his teammate. "He is comfortable and confident in what he is able to do and he is knocking down free throws this year which gives him more confidence to be aggressive and make big time post moves for us. As long as we keep getting the ball inside, good things seem to be happening for our perimeter guys as well as our post guys and we're going to look to utilize him a lot more the rest of the season."
Opponents have resisted from doubling Boateng in the post, yet the senior doesn't believe it will make a difference if teams do attempt to limit him down low.
"Whether they do or they don't, it's really about just reading the situation on the floor, sticking to what we do offensively and just making each other better," Boateng stated. "I think that's the most important thing."
Another standout this season has been freshman, Trent Lockett. Lockett was awarded a starting position for the Sun Devils, replacing senior Jerren Shipp. Lockett and his athletic abilities have proven to be a successful match for the maroon and gold. During his twenty-one minutes on the floor, Lockett scored 9 points against the Lions and shooting 3-3 from the line.
"Great player, once he really learns how to play at his level he is going to be a top quality guy," McMilan said. "He is very athletic, he gives us the spark. He hustle plays, the dunk he caught was unbelievable tonight. Those guys are energy guys, utility guys that we need in order for us to get on a run, make a push here and there. He is a phenomenal player, once he gets in there and learns how to finish because he uses his body very well; he's going to be a force to reckon with down there."
Thursday, Coach Sendek and his unit will host Baylor at 8:30pm. Arizona State will turn the page from Pine Buff to Baylor tomorrow as they prepare to host another challenging opponent and hoping to advance their record to 7-1.
"We just have to get better," McMillan noted. "It was a good win for us, obviously coming back from a big time tournament but we have a good team in here on Thursday so we've got to turn the page, get this out of our mind and be ready tomorrow for preparation for that game."