Preview: ASU Men's Basketball vs. Tulsa

Opponent: Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Head Coach: Doug Wojcik (Woe-chic), 7th season

Last season: 19-13, 11-5 in C-USA, tied for 2nd

Key Player to Watch: Jordan Clarkson, sophomore sparkplug who's now the primary threat of the Golden Hurricane

Tulsa has never been in the NCAA Tournament in Doug Wojcik's head coaching career, but NEVER count Tulsa out. This is a very consistent basketball program which has been a force in C-USA for quite some time. Last year, Tulsa lost post Jerome Jordan (NBA draft pick) and Ben Uzoh, and Tulsa was still in the thick of the race, tying for second in the conference. Goes to show how consistent the team is.

This season, Tulsa loses their primary scoring threat, Justin Hurtt, but so far the GH is in relatively good shape. Their 3 losses come from Northwestern (Charleston Classic semis, i believe), Saint Joseph and MO State, which isn't too bad, but they haven't done much in the non-conference schedule to begin with (all wins against mid majors or low majors).

Tulsa has solid, though not great players, in their positions. The closest thing to an all-conference player is Jordan Clarkson, who's originally a sparkplug off the bench and is now the primary scorer (15 points, 5 boards a game). Joining him in the backcourt is Scottie Haralson, who's more of a lights out shooter from 3 (around 12 ppg).

Up front, there's Steven Idlet anchoring the post, averaging 10 points and 6 boards a contest. There's also Kodi Maduek, who averages close to 9 points a game and paces the GH with almost 8 boards a game. Another rebounding machine is DJ Magley, who only scores over 5 points a game but gobbles up 6 boards a game.

Other players who play some contributing minutes include Eric McClellan (5 ppg), Tim Peete (4.1 ppg) and Joe Richard (3.3 ppg).

My Take

Tulsa has an 8 man rotation essentially, with 7 players averaging over 20 minutes and and an eighth averaging 15. However, out of the 8, 3 of them are from the post. Hence, getting 1 or 2 of these post players into foul trouble will be extremely beneficial for ASU. If such a case occurs Tulsa will find it hard to attack inside and also rebound consistently.

Tulsa is at its best on the defensive, a hallmark since Wojcik took over the program. Not the best news in the world, because the Sun Devs either a) turn it over too often or b) don't shoot well or c) both. I don't have all the answers for the Tulsa defense, but limiting TOs have to be the first priority. We'll worry about offensive execution later.

We also might need to find out how to keep the GH off the glass, because our bigs aren't capable on the boards and most of the boards have to be taken by guards or forwards (especially Trent Lockett). ASU needs to put a premium on crashing the glass so to prevent second chance points.

Speaking of second chances, Tulsa is a somewhat methodical team. They shoot the ball at a reasonable percentage, especially from 3 point range (almost 35%) but only average 65 points a game. So if Tulsa gets an offensive rebound, don't be shocked to see them milk 20-30 more seconds on the shot clock. The one offensive weakness they have is similar to ASU: They average 15 turnovers a game, which is more than their 11 assists per game. A potential strength is getting to the line, because Tulsa averages under 22 FT attempts, which is high. Alas, they convert at a less than mediocre 66%. ASU should consider turning up the pressure defensively so as to force turnovers and get easy shots. Also, the ball is on Herb Sendek's court as in whether he wants his team to speed up or slow down the game.

I am confident about ASU's defense but here are some things for Coach to consider:

- Back off of Clarkson. He can't shoot the 3 too well (subpar 32%) and is at his best when attacking the rim.

- Get up on Haralson. He's the designated shooter for the GH

- Deny the ball to Idlet because he converts at a high rate, although I feel better if he has to shoot 3s (he has made 1 in 2 attempts so far).

- In late game situations, if ASU has to foul, foul Tim Peete, who average 27 minutes a game but averages 40% at the line, 57% for his career.

Well, that's all I have to point out. GO DEVS!

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