ASU Puts UA Loss Behind, Anticipates Road Trip

Not getting too high after a win or too low after a loss, has been an integral part of coach Rob Evans' philosophy. Therefore, he didn't see any sulking faces in practice since Saturday, but rather a determination to get back quickly to the squad's winning ways this weekend when they visit the bay area schools.

"I think we're as good a state of mind that we can be in," says Evans, "considering this was a big ball game at home with a great crowd. These guys are pretty resilient. We tried through the year to teach them that. So, I think by in large they'll be ready to go." Speaking of the boisterous crowd against Arizona, the ASU coach was still amazed at what he has witnessed. "It was just tremendous. It was great for us to see that crowd, and we wish we played better and had a different outcome. The student body stayed until the end, even when the game was over. They showed a lot of loyalty by staying."

Evans has been accustomed to packed houses when he coached in programs such as Okalahoma State, New Mexico State, and Mississippi. However, seeing attendance in Wells Fargo Arena reach five figures the last few games fills him with much pride. "I've always been in programs with great crowds. But to see this thing grow a little bit, even though it was the Arizona game…you saw this thing grow a little bit before that in the USC and UCLA games. It's very important to have home court advantage, because you need to win home games to compete in any league, especially this one. Little by little people are coming to our games. I sense that just talking to people around town - they're more interested now in ASU basketball."

Practices having been going well according to the Sun Devil coach. "We went over a lot of fundamentals, as well as zone and man-to-man stuff. We've done a lot of things, and I've been pleased with the effort and concentration." Speaking of zone defense, anyone watching the Arizona game recognized ASU's difficulty contending with this defense. Following a four game win steak, which saw Evans' team handling the zone quite efficiently, one wonders if the Sun Devils' offensive woes against the Wildcats were attributed more to the visitors' play rather than his team's lack of execution. Evans replies: "I think it's both. Arizona is a pretty good zone team because they're long. But we didn't do a good job attacking it. You have to show patience, and penetrating inside, driving to the basket, and getting it to the short corner. We had to get the ball to certain spots when they were on Ike. Once you play against a zone, you have to knock down your shots, but you have to make them medium range shots and not three's."

The upcoming road games against Stanford and Cal shouldn't have the Devils feeling apprehensive. When ASU met these two schools in Tempe this season, it beat Cal and lost a heartbreaker to Stanford. Nevertheless, Evans exclaims that those teams, as well as his own, are playing differently these days. "We have played well against them. Both of them have improved since we saw them, but we think we have too. This whole league is pretty tough, and these are two of the toughest places on the road to play in. But we have a seasoned ball club, and I expect us to play well on the road."

Rob Evans doesn't believe that winning against the second and third team in the Pac-10 necessarily constitutes a statement game. His approach is much more pragmatic than that. "We have a situation where we played a lot of good basketball games, and we need to continue to do that. If we do well, we'll get our share of wins. We're competitive with Cal and Stanford, and we're capable of winning these ball games."

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