Devils not content with close win

A worn out sports cliché tells us that a win is a win. Yet, that doesn't mean that the Sun Devils are satisfied with their effort in a 61-52 victory over USC Upstate. With Pac-10 play looming large next week the players know that their level of play will have to improve in order to be successful in their conference portion of the season starting in seven days.

"Obviously it was a must win for us and it was a lot closer than we expected," said Arizona State guard Jamelle McMillan. "We got the win and that is the most important thing. I feel that we are prepared. It's a lesson for us older guys. We have to establish things early, get a solid foundation and hopefully help out these younger guys if they get the minutes.

"Coming up next week we have to strap it on a whole different way."

McMillan sees Wednesday's game as a bit of a setback from recent performances. And is mindful of the improvement that needs to take place even with a 10-3 record.

"The win does help, but ourselves we have higher standards and expectations for each other, from the coaching staff and from each man down the line," McMillan commented. "We took care of business in the worst possible fashion but like I said it was a learning experience and an experience down the road that will prepare you for those close games we are going to be in later on against better teams. You have to make sure that you're able to make plays down the stretch that we were able to make tonight."

The game versus USC Upstate was the last contest before a three-day day holiday break, and McMillan acknowledged that it's only natural to look past such a game with your thoughts on the upcoming hiatus.

"But it's a mindset and if you're able to overcome that," McMillan said, "if you are able to be mentally disciplined and work through it everything should take care of itself. If you are able to do the things that you are taught to do and trust in each other you should be successful."

McMillan was impressed with the play of the Spartans, and their 7-3 center Nick Schneiders. "They have a big guy down low, probably the biggest we have ever seen," McMillan admitted. "He did a very good job distributing the ball around the perimeter and when you have guys that can shoot as well as they do it's tough. They knocked down the shots when they needed to and gave themselves a chance and we have to give them credit."

ASU reserve forward Taylor Rohde played a career-high 25 minutes and was tasked with the challenge of keeping an eye on Schneiders in his team's zone defense.

"Every time a shot goes up you are always looking for him," Rohde explained, "but he's not too hard to find. You just have to put a body on him and that's what I tried to do the whole game. I think we did a good job on him as a team. There are big people in the Pac-10 so it was a good preparation for us to see somebody that big."

The sophomore also scored a personal best of 12 points, which was instrumental on a day that starting center Eric Boateng was scoreless. "I feel I'm just preparing for the Pac-10," Rohde said, "just coming in there doing whatever I can to help our team out. I'm just going in and playing hard."

The mindset for Rohde this season is different. Last year as a freshman he was a seldom used player and now he's the first big man to come off the bench. It's a role that he has been successful in so far.

"You always have to be ready," Rohde stated. "My freshman year was difficult for me but now I'm ready to contribute and you have to get ready for every game. Just go in there and play. I worked hard in the summer, just tried to change my body, get stronger. Hard work does a lot of good things for you."

The Sun Devils are off until Sunday where they will resume practice, having two sessions that day.

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