Entering the season with our first preseason ranking since 1991-92 (when we immediately lost 2 of 3 in the Maui Tournament), we have a lot of work to do to live up to the ranking.
Mississippi Valley State (Southwestern Athletic Conference Champ, 17-16 2008, lost in opening round to UCLA in NCAA tournament) played us awfully hard, hit 40% of their three point attempts, closed the lead to only 9 (50-41) in the second half, and junior Shannon Behling had 18 points. But, we still won so..
On to the Sun Devils. While I would have liked to have seen a blow out, MVS was at least an NCAA tourney team (while we weren't..hmm..)
We shot 57.8% from the field. We should have attempted a lot more shots, and Sendek notes that
"We really held the ball too much," Sendek said. "The ball didn't move freely. Everybody who caught it just kind of made sure it was orange, made sure it was a sphere, and then we passed it. Our offense is going to work better when we move the ball more freely and more sharply."
This is not just lip service - it really was true, and I expect the offense to settle down into more of a groove as they work out the early seasn jitters. We shot mediocre from the line (71%), okay from three (35%) and were pretty good about not committing fouls (16).
As a team we were solid, but not spectacular.
James Harden - pimp. 24 points (6/11 FG, 0/4 3P, 12/16 FT), 3 rebounds, 10 assist (2 to) 3 steals in 30 minutes. A solid line. Great to see Harden dishing the ball out like that because our point guards had little production tonight. Harden on being such a player:
"I guess that's how I always am," Harden said. "I'm a playmaker. I get my teammates shots. I try to create for them as much as possible. That's pretty much my game. Today, I think I did an OK job of doing that."
Yes, you did James. Our Pac-10 title hopes rest on Harden's shoulders this year, so it is good to see him responding to all these preseason 1st and 2nd team All-American nods in a strong way.
The Point Guards, Jamelle McMillan (who started) and Derek Glasser:
Since we have two point guards, both of whom play about equal time (McMillan 21 mins, Glasser 23) we will look at them as a tandem. McMillan has yet to live up to his hype (he was ranked by scouts as a 93 and a top 100 recruit. Harden was a 97) but that is alright, I expect some strides forward this year.
They did not score much and did not shoot that well, 9 points (2-5 FG, 0-3 3P, 5-6 FT) which is to be expected. McMillan shot 36% from three last year, so I dont mind seeing him put up some shots, but Glasser is absolute garbage. 31% last year, but in big games it was about 10%. (Oregon 1-7, USC 0-5, Wash St 1-5, UCLA 2-6). They had 1 combined rebound, 6 assists to 2 turnovers, and 3 steals. Not a lot of production for 44 combined minutes. That is ok, the ball was in Harden's hands most of the possessions.
Ty Abbott: 32 mins, 18 points (8-13 FG, 2-6 3P, 0/0 FT), 8 rebounds, 4 assist 1 turnover, 1 block.
Abbott had excellent efficieny on the other hand. Not quite Harden-esque, but 18 points in 32 minutes is great. He shot well, although it would be nice to see him drawing some fouls instead of relying on his outside shot so much. 8 boards is great to see out of the undersized guard. He also was economical with the ball.
Rihards Kuksiks: The 6'6 sophomore who played 4 minutes in our first 7 Pac-10 games combined last season, and then ended up starting by the end of the year, is poised for a breakout season as our starting SF/PF. The guy can shoot (37% 3P last year). He played 33 mins, shot 4-7 (4-7 from 3P, ha) and scored 12. 3 Rebs, 1 assist to 3 turnovers (eh..), and 1 steal.
If he wants to be effective as a college 3 or 4 he will need to improve his ball skills and improve his defense.
Pendergraph - the senior emotional leader only played half the game, had 10 points, 5 rebounds, and did not miss a shot. Solid, and I would like to see more of this. No more 18 foot jumpers this season Jeff.
Boateng played 11 mins, had 1 rebound 1 steal and did nothing else. Hope his ball handling had improved.
Shipp - 12 mins, 7 points? I will take it. Shipp has seen his playing time slowly decrease as Sendek's recruits have come in, but he still provides solid depth off the bench.
Kraidon woods - only 3 mins.
Taylor Rohde - the 6'8 225 pound Freshman recruit out of Phoenix got his college debut. Ranked as the #44 power foward in the country for 2008, and an 87 by Scouts Inc, Rohde played 12 minutes had 1 rebound, 2 assists and went scoreless. A scouting report on Rohde:
Rohde is an excellent all-around player who possesses a very good understanding of the game and is highly skilled. He has a solid looking frame with fairly long arms, a decent set of shoulders, and solid overall length. He has a great pair of hands as he can finish with either hand. Despite only being a decent athlete (doesn't have a lot of bounce) he's a solid rebounder - has very good instincts in the paint area. He's very skilled in the post - has a nice up-and-under move - and can use the glass very well on his turn-around jump shot. Defensively, he plays good position defense but lacks the quickness to guard athletic post players. Overall, Rohde is a fine basketball player, but he may struggle to score and defend against most "fours" in the Pac-10 (verbal to Arizona State).
2007 Pangos All-American Camp
Rhode will not "wow" you with athleticism, but his savvy and skills are a sight to see.
not as heralded as Coy, but ranked the same as Coy, and played in the first game... His size will be extremely valuable to the team.
Good start boys.