The Arizona State Sun Devils visit Stanford Thursday in a key game for both teams. The Sun Devils need some road victories to move up the ladder in the Pac 10 standings and away from bubble land. The Cardinal needs to defend its home court to remain in a comfortable position come tourney selection time. You don't want to be seeds 4-7 during the Pac 10 Tournament needing a win to go to the dance.
This writer/poster picked the Sun Devils as his sleeper team back in July. Why? They had three players who were medical redshirts last year and were bringing in some more talent. The Devils reminded me of Stanford's 93/94 who rebounded from an injured Poppink / Harbour 7-23 year and went 17-1, earning a trip to the NIT.
I have always admired Rob Evans teams. They play hard "in your face" basketball for 40 minutes. They may not have three athletes comparable to Glanville, Clancy and Bluthenthal, but their next 8 maybe better. Al Talboy's (timekeeper) fingers better be ready because he will be buzzing a lot of Sun Devils into the game. Enough of the hype.
Chad Prewitt is their leading scorer and big man. There is nothing flashy about Chad. A savvy senior who can play away from the basket as well as in the post. If Curtis defends him, look for Chad to play away from the basket leaving room for Tommy Smith and Awvee Storey to slice and dice the post. Smith is 6-10 and lanky. Has Justin Davis athletic ability in a Curtis Borchardt body. He runs the floor well and gets a lot of points off offensive rebounds. Smith is considered a small forward and could pose some post up problems if guarded by Casey or Josh. Storey is a 6-6 222 power forward: blue collar all the way who will set painful screens, rebound well and make sure everyone knows that he is around. Teyo Johnson will need to be in the frontcourt mix somewhere if we are going to compete up front.
The starting backcourt is a somewhat younger version of Glanville and Craven. Very athletic guards who pressure the ball and like to get out on the break. Curtis Millage is the off-guard and will be tough to handle. Forget about Julius playing the point. We need him on Millage. Millage is a good scorer, passer and rebounder. He also defends very well. The Barnes vs. Millage match-up could hold the key to the game. The Devils have a two-headed point guard in freshman Jason Braxton and Junior Kyle Dodd. Neither looks to score, but to instead run the offense and play in your face defense.
The Sun Devils have 11 players who average double-digit minutes. Dodd, Donnell Knight, Kenny Crandell and Shawn Redhage have all started at some point in their Sun Devil career. They have a lot of inter-changeable parts, although not a lot of depth you could call a true post.
Nuts and Bolts
On offense the Sun Devils run a motion offense with 4 out and 1 in. They run a box set and run curls off screens. It will be important for Stanford defenders to get through the screens quickly. Smith loves to penetrate and shoot or dish. They have run a nice motion offense this year but their bread and butter is getting out in transition and running. The Devils lead the league in assists per game.
The Sun Devils defense includes everything but the kitchen sink. They will play man-to-man defense - sometimes half court, and sometimes full court. After made baskets or free throws they may very well go into a 2-2-1 trapping press and then fall into a 3-2 zone. The 3-2 zone gave USC fits. 6-10 Tommy Smith is up top, and SC found it very hard to get the ball into Sam Clancy. Hopefully the USC game served as a good lesson to Stanford on how to handle pressure. It will be important to slow things down, not panic, be patient and work for a good shot.
Keys to the Game
- Limit transition opportunities
- Good passing
- Run our Offense
- Teyo & Julius
- Establish tempo early, middle and late
- Take advantage of our Height
If Stanford can protect the ball, limit transition opportunities and be patient on offense, they should win this game. Look for the Devils to use their 3-2 zone to try to limit the entry pass into Curtis. I think they will also try to post Casey's man down low to get Casey into foul trouble or to play the 2 vs. Millage. Teyo and Julius need to produce.