All the momentum from the win against Oregon State has evaporated, as the Sun Devils struggled to score as of late, resulting in the losses to Colorado, Utah (!) and Washington. Now, ASU will welcome the Cougars of Pullman into Wells Fargo Arena. Can the Sun Devils reverse their misfortunes with a win here? A desription of the Coogs after the jump.
Dating back to his days in Portland State, Coach Ken Bone has been known as a coach who can really coach offense, especially of the transition variety. This year mirrors the same trend in conference play. Running at an above average pace, the Cougars whoot 45.5% from the floor and are also adept from shooting the 3 (37%). Despite these good numbers, the Cougars are at their best in the free throw line, where they make 75% from the line and make the 2nd most FT attempts in the Pac. To supplement the offense the Cougars don't turn the ball over too much, and while their TO percentage is a bit on the high side they average enough assists to get the assist-turnover ratio above 1. However, the Cougars are really bad on the offensive glass, limiting their second chance opportunities.
Speaking of bad rebounding, that's the main issue with Wazzu. They are outrebounded on a regular basis by other Pac Opponents by an average of 10 boards a contest. (45% to 55%). To compound their problems, they allow opponents to outshoot them: 47% from the field, 37% from 3. And WSU doesn't compensate for those numbers with gaudy block or steal percentages. So overall, not a great defensive team to begin with (and just to throw it out there, Wazzu is primarily a man team with a sprinkle of zones for good measure).
Wazzu relies on a group of players for their scoring, but the main man is Brock Motum. Not exactly a mobile big, not even the tallest, but the dude can flat out score down on the block and from 3 as well (54% from floor, 40% from 3). Away from the basket is Faisal Aden, one of the more explosive scorers in the Pac. Capable of popping a 3 and going off the dribble, this guy is a threat off the bench (although in conference play his 3 point shot disappeared). Aden complements DeVonte Lacy. He's still adjusting to the rigors of DI basketball, and hasn't shot the ball well in conference, but his 3 point stroke is there. Running alongside Lacy is longtime contributor Reggie Moore, the team's primary point guard, ball handler who's capable of also chipping in double digit points from long range. Outside of this core group, expect players like Marcus Capers, Abe Lodwick, Mike Ladd and DJ Shelton to chip in a couple of points as well.
ASU hasn't shot the ball well since Lockett's injury, but the Sun Devils can attempt to exploit Wazzu's Swiss cheese defense. However, ASU must hold its own on the defense as well; they have been up and down with their defense in the conference season. A key component to watch is rebounding. It is mostly on guys like Pateev and Bachynski to patrol the middle and grab a huge chunk of the rebounds (like how Jordan had 13 boards against UDub). Again, we leading scorers out, I wonder who will be the go-to scorer since it's different every time. Gilling might be that guy but right now I see a bunch of complementary scorers who are better off deferring to a star. Regardless, our two big guys must continue to progress on offense. Let's see how they fare against Wazzu.