Opponent: Oregon Ducks
Head Coach: Dana Altman
Venue: Wells Fargo Arena
The Ducks didn't soar this year, per se. They just kinda flew. OK, a 11-5 record is pretty cool, but they haven't beaten anybody of note out of conference, though they did beat Stanford in the Pac-12 schedule. The roster is an intriguing blend; they keep a good core of players last year sans Jay R Strowbridge and Joevan Catron, but added guys like Olu Ashaolu (LA Tech), Devoe Joseph (MN) and Tony Woods (The Forest that Wakes). Jabari Brown, highly touted freshman, was also supposed to be in the mix, but he's now in SDSU.
How will the Sun Devils, now without Keala King, handle the Ducks? More after the jump.U of OR like to do two things on the offensive end: Shoot a 3 or take a free throw. They take the second most threes and free throws per game in the Pac. Alas, they shoot 35% from 3 and 68% from the line, figures that are average at best. UO also plays at a slightly faster pace than most, around 68 possessions a game and 70 points a contest, thanks in large part to their depth and player rotation. However, mostly due to their small size outside a couple of players the team is very poor on the offensive glass. They also turn the ball over 14 times a game.
Defensively, UO is solid but uninspiring. Opponents shoot 42% from the floor, a good number but not a great one, and 34% from the line, which is an average rate. It doesn't help that the Ducks are only a middling team on the defensive glass and are really bad at either stealing the ball or blocking shots.
The one thing the Ducks have over ASU is depth. 11 players average over 10 minutes for Dana's team, and 10 of those play for over 15 minutes a game! Certainly not a situation that suits the Devils, because Oregon is both deep AND capable of playing at a faster pace.
Key Personnel Snippets (there's a lot of them)
Devoe Joseph is the primary scorer for the team. Shoots well from the floor, from 3 and from the FT line. A secondary ball handler at best but is also plays the most minutes and is the third best assists person. Coach Altman wants Joseph to improve defensively, but all in all a great contributor. All-Pac 12 team?
EJ Singler is the glue guy. Not wholly athletic but plays multiple positions (usually the wing suits him). A gritty player, to say the least. Insane foul shooter and shoots well from the floor, though the 3 point shot is average. Second leading scorer, leading rebounder, but 40% of his shots are from 3.
Garrett Sim is the senior leader, plays the second most amount of minutes outside of Joseph. HALF his shots are 3 balls. Converts well from all parts of the floor and is the second best assists person. Will both handle the ball at stretches but also play off of it to set up his deadly jump shot.
Olu Ashalou is the primary inside threat. Undersized a bit at the 4 spot but is an All-Wac player during his days at LA-Tech. Team's second best rebounder while converting a ton of shots from the inside and at a high rate.
Tony Woods is an athletic big who has great size, but doesn't see alot of minutes because of his lack of skills beyond the dunk and hook shot. Nevertheless converts well from in close. Oregon's best inside deterrent. Subpar free throw shooter, so fouling him is no biggie.
Tyrone Nared is just Woods in that he's athletic but he doesn't have the size. Second best shot blocker, but again like Woods doesn't possess a ton of skills. Can finish from the immediate area. An average foul shooter. A guy who's minutes will be determined by his intensity and energy.
Jonathan Lloyd is a small blur who can get to lane but can't finish. Good from 3 land but is at his best when dishing to others, as he's the top assist man. A primary ball handler that will be asked to set up an offense and attack off the dribble. He bruised a knee recently and will be a game time decision.
A big reason why ASU swept the Ducks last season was because of the matchup zone. The Sun Devils locked up Catron and forced the Ducks to shoot from 3 (which they didn't make until the Pac 10 Tourney). This year probably won't apply, because of Joseph's arrival, but I won't be shocked to see a matchup zone so as to slow the ball down and conserve energy. Also, I don't like the prospect of guarding Devoe Joseph on an isolation play.
Related to speed, this is a game that will largely be determined by tempo. ASU wants to slow it down, while the Ducks want to speed it up. The way to force a half court game is by only sending 2 guys to crash the offensive glass and getting 3 guys back (that'll be enough) in order to counteract the bigs (Woods, Nared) running the floor. Another way to dictate tempo is through rebounding. Oregon is an average rebounding team at best, and if ASU can clean the glass, possessions in the game will lower.
ASU must find a way to force players to go off the dribble without fouling, because doing so will force the Ducks to shoot the ball from inside the arc, something the Ducks weren't that good at and weren't doing often.
On the offensive end, we need to avoid turnovers (of course), but we'll need to see who steps up. Trent Lockett will be Trent Lockett, but who'll be next to him? Could Jonathan Gilling keep his shooting roll? What about Carrick Felix after going off for 20 plus? Can Ruslan Pateev score double digit points for the 3rd time in 4 games? We'll see in this game. Go Sun Devils!