Without getting ahead ourselves, this new Sun Devil offense is a bit of a revelation as Herb Sendek has been historically methodical on offense. The new up-tempo flow has been exciting to watch and apparently tough to stop.
Oregon State has been just bizarre this season. A year after winning the CBI (The tournament AFTER the NIT teams are picked), a lot of experts were predicting that Oregon State could be a sleeper in a down Pac-10 conference.
That notion was nullified almost immediately as the Beavers were fleeced by Texas A&M - Corpus Christi at home followed by another bad loss to Sacramento State. While those two losses were tough to stomach, the real doozy was the 51-point loss to Seattle University. Losing by more than seven touchdowns at home to a D-I Independent is far from a good thing.
With that said, the Beavers actually have some nice wins on their resume as well: Colorado, Oregon, Fresno State, and Arizona. In their win over Arizona, Lathen Wallace hit a three with a second remaining to seal the deal and will go into the game on Saturday with a bit of momentum.
Head Coach – Craig Robinson (56-54) vs. Herb Sendek (321-206)
G/F – Seth Tarver (12.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG) vs. Ty Abbott (9.5 PPG, 42% 3PT)
F – Daniel Deane – (5.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG) vs. Rihards Kuksiks (12.8 PPG, 39% 3PT)
A guard-heavy team, the Beavers run most of their offense around the perimeter which puts a lot of attention on the Tarver brothers and Calvin Haynes. The main offensive threats are Seth Tarver and Calvin Haynes.
Seth Tarver is a very versatile player who is fundamentally sound and can't be given much space. Haynes is much more explosive off the dribble and can put up points in a hurry. Josh Tarver is much like his brother in that he doesn't make many mistakes and will play tough defense. Off the bench, the Beavers will use Lathen Wallace who can score in spurts as well as Jared Cunningham, a one-time ASU commit whose marriage with the school didn't particularly well.
ASU rolls out Glasser, McMillan, and Abbott in an effort to keep on keeping on with the offensive force. Since the new offensive attack, Abbott has been without a doubt the biggest beneficiary. After being named Pac-10 POTW for his performance at home against the Washington schools, he continued his surge against the Ducks. Glasser also is showing signs of breaking out of his mini-shooting slump. Demetrius Walker and Trent Lockett are also getting their rhythm back in the new offense and that gives the Devils good minutes off the bench.
Edge – ASU
With the Beavers, the interior presence is more important on the defensive end of the floor as Daniel Deane doesn't get many offensive looks and Schaftenaar is basically just a tall shooter who is relatively soft down low. That being said, Schaftenaar is a tough matchup when he is shooting well because a 7-footer dropping shots from all over the floor is extremely tough to defend.
All this talk about this new offense would be remiss without mentioning Rihards Kuksiks. While his shooting abilities can thrive in any system, he is really hurting teams now as he gets more open looks. Although we all know him as a sharp shooter, his game really takes off when he can get into the lane and score in the paint. Aside Kuksiks is the Big Boat. Eric Boateng is still streaky but as long as he stays in the game and picks up rebounds, he will be more then effective. Ruslan Pateev continues to improve and will see some minutes as well.
Edge – ASU
Consistency. The Sun Devils head into this game as the better team and clear favorite. Unfortunately, this game isn't played on paper and the Devils still haven't cured all their road woes. The Devils offense needs to remain consistent with Abbott and Kuksiks making the most of their opportunities. The Beavers have proven that consistency is something they are allergic to but they are capable of beating a cold team.
Who Will Win and Why
Three games with a new offense and the Devils are winning by an average of more than 20 points a game; there is no reason to think it will stop now. I see the Sun Devils starting a little sluggish because of the early start but pulling away in the second half.
ASU 70 OSU 56