The Arizona State basketball team will return once again to the hardwood as it hosts Chicago State on Friday for its season opener at 8 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
TV: The game will be on Pac-12 Network Arizona. It will be streamed online for free on Pac-12.com as part of the first "Full Court Fridays" on Pac-12 Networks.
Arizona State Update:
The Sun Devils will have to overcome the losses of starters Jahii Carson, Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall.
Head coach Herb Sendek said that he is still tweaking with his starting line-up so it is likely that the Sun Devils will use this game to figure out their rotation.
Junior college transfers Roosevelt Scott, Willie Atwood and Gerry Blakes all look promising, but it's tough to tell how they will adjust to Division I basketball. Freshmen Tra Holder, Kodi Justice and Connor MacDougall will also get their first taste of the collegiate hardwood, but it is still unclear how they will fit into Sendek's lineup.
The only three returners that have seen consistent action are forwards Jonathan Gilling and Shaquielle McKissic, guard Bo Barnes and center Eric Jacobsen.
Chicago State Update:
The Cougars (13-9) are coming off of a season in which they won a record eight conference games. However, they lost nine seniors from last year's squad. The Cougars' biggest losses were center Quinton Pippen (15.2 PPG) and forward Matt Ross (11.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG)
Chicago State does get a huge boost from returning senior guard Clarke Rosenberg who averaged 14 points and 2.6 assists. Among other players to keep an eye on are senior guard Rahjan Muhammad, who averaged 5.8 points in 23.7 minutes per game last season. A name to watch for in the paint includes sophomore Quron Davis, who although seeing just 3.3 minutes per game last season, is the Cougars most experienced and tallest option in the paint as a 6-foot-10, 235-pound sophomore.
Keys to the game:
- Dominate the paint - This Sun Devil line up is undersized, so it'll be important for them to set the tone. A lot has been said about the improved fitness of Jacobsen, and this will be his first chance to showcase it.
- Score early and often - This should be a cake walk game for the Sun Devils, but if they get down early, this young team might panic. Setting the tone early will be important, especially for the Sun Devil faithful at Wells Fargo Arena.
- Set the rhythm on offense - With a big question mark surrounding the point guard position, it'll be important to see who steps up in that position. Look for Holder or Blakes to take this role into their own hands, and perhaps Kodi Justice to see some time as well.
There's no doubt in my mind the Sun Devils win this. Prediction: ASU - 80 CSU - 55