Men's Basketball Preview: Arizona State vs. Northern Arizona, Saturday 4:00 PM MST

Opponent's Name: Northern Arizona Lumberjacks

Conference: Big Sky

(Interim) Head Coach: Dave Brown

Record before matchup: 3-7

Player to watch out for: James Douglas, the only NAU double digit scorer.

The Lowdown (this is where i fill in the opponent's storyline so far in this season and last season. Also highlight players and stats)

Under Mike Adras, NAU has usually been one of the better Big Sky teams for the past decade. But Adras' tenure has ended with a thud, as seen by the 8-19 and 14-14 record in 08-09 and 09-10 seasons. The Lumberjacks rallied to 19-13 last season, thanks in large part to super-scorer Cameron Jones.

With Jones and Shane Johannsen (who led the nation in FG% for two seasons) now gone, this was supposed to be more of a transition year for the club. But things were even more difficult when Gabe Rogers, the leading returning scorer, was sidelined for the early portion of the season due to injury.

Not surprisingly, NAU came out of the gate sluggishly, starting 2-7 (wins were all against non DI teams), eventually leading to Adras' resignation. Under new coach Dave Brown, the Lumberjacks beat their first DI opponent of the season (CA State Bakersfield), but the team has a lot of work to do before it could even think about challenging the Big Sky.

As stated before, NAU will rely on Freshman James Douglas to put the ball in the basket. He's a lights-out shooter with a 6-0 frame.

Colin Gruber is the second-leading scorer, averaging 8.5 ppg, but arguably the straw that stirs the drink is Stallon Saldivar. Leads the team in minutes, third leading scorer (8.1 ppg) but more importantly averages 5.2 apg against 2.5 TOpg. Led the Big Sky in APG last season. He's the PG who runs the show.

Other players worth noting:

Durrell Norman, leading rebounder with 6 boards a contest while chipping in about 7 ppg and 1.3 steals per game (leads team)

Michael Dunn: 6.4 ppg

Gaellen Bewernick: 5.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Ephraim Ekanem: 4.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg

The Chalkboard (this is where I'll outline offensive and defensive strategies for ASU. Also specific tactics on certain players. However, please keep in mind that I don't have much video to work with and so they might be wrong sometimes)

NAU is DEVOID of length. Their biggest player is 6-8 and he only plays about 12 minutes a contest. The next tallest guys are around 6-7, and they are the big guys up front. Clearly, this is ASU's chance to exploit the boards on both ends of the floor and to the line a lot. And because of Pateev's and James B. (I won't write Buh-shins-ki) length, I actually will suggest a high low setup. Get the big guys to set under the basketball and seal off their defenders from the low post area, then lob it to them for easy lay-in. Most likely NAU will go man-to-man but don't be surprised if they also use some to counteract our size and athletic advantage.

I won't be surprised if ASU allows Lockett, Felix and King are given free reign and go 1-on-1 with their matchup. NAU has nobody to match up with them, hence another reason why Dave Brown might consider a zone

NAU is not a good offensive team, averaging only 63 ppg so far and taking a lot of shots just to reach that number (41% shooting). But they are 35% from the outside, which is above average. If I am Coach Sendek I will tell my players to get up on the Lumberjacks and force them to put it on the floor. Douglas cans close to 40% of his 3s but didn't prove that he can take care of the ball or finish from 2 point range (40.5% FG). Same goes for Gruber. But deny the ball to Salvidar so he won't be allowed to play-make. In short, if NAU makes outside shots, and they can make them, ASU should go man-to-man.

NAU also has no seniors, and much of the production has to come from freshman. To the Lumberjacks' credit, though, they are deep. They play 9 players for double digit minutes and a tenth 9.6 mpg. However, with the youth movement comes inexperience, and because this game is played at home ASU has an advantage there.


That's it for this preview issue: Go DEVS!

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