clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ASU Basketball: Q&A with Wildcat blog 'Arizona Desert Swarm'

The Sun Devils and Wildcats are set to do battle tomorrow in Wells Fargo Arena for ASU's conference opener.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State Sun Devils return to action tomorrow afternoon in their Pac-12 opener against the Arizona Wildcats. Bobby Hurley's team is coming off a challenging non-conference slate, but things don't get any easier as rival Arizona is ranked No. 8 in the country.

Arizona Desert Swarm contributor Ivan Leonard was gracious enough to answer some of our questions heading into the showdown between the Wildcats and Sun Devils. His answers are below, and you can view our responses to their questions here.

House of Sparky: It sounds like center Kaleb Tarczewski will return from his foot injury for Sunday's game. What was missing from this team without him?

Ivan Leonard: Over the past few weeks, Arizona was forced to use a three-headed monster of Dusan Ristic, Chance Comanche, and power forward Ryan Anderson at the five and now that the Wildcats defensive anchor has returned, they will not go into every game with either a disadvantage at size or experience like over the past month. Gonzaga center Domantas Sabonis put up 18 points and 16 rebounds on Arizona but the Wildcats ended up winning that game.

His game may not be sexy but with Dusan being a sophomore and Chance only being a freshman, the Wildcats no longer have to worry about what they are getting at the center position.

HoS: Which Wildcat player should Arizona State fans be most wary of?

IL: While Gabe York and Kaleb Tarczewski are the biggest holdovers from last year’s team, Sun Devil fans should keep an eye on Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson as he has emerged as Arizona’s most consistent player since the season began. He puts up double-doubles on a regular basis with six already this season and can score in a variety of ways. Whether it is off of offensive rebounds, driving to the basket, or getting to the free throw line, you can pencil Anderson in for at least 13 points every game to go along with double-digit rebounds and an intensity that is unmatched.

The second time these two teams face that player could be Allonzo Trier as the freshman is hitting his stride but Anderson is clearly the best Wildcat right now and you can expect to hear his name a lot come Sunday.

HoS: Arizona has been nearly perfect all season except for a two day stretch out in Fullerton back in November. Do you expect this success to continue throughout Pac-12 play and into the NCAA Tournament?

IL: While I do expect Arizona to stay in at least the top 15 for the rest of the season, I do not expect them to make it to the end of the season with only one more loss. With UCLA, California, ASU, Oregon, and Utah all on the schedule, it would not be a surprise for Arizona to lose to three of the teams I just mentioned. Last year, Arizona should have made it to the tournament undefeated as all of their losses were to teams that ended up missing the tourney (UNLV, ASU, and Oregon State) so this year I believe they lose to two of the Pac-12’s better teams and a random team like Stanford.

Stanford did upset Utah on Saturday so the Cardinal have it in them. The Pac-12 is also stronger this year so Arizona’s margin for error is much slimmer than last year’s team that hovered around the top five for most of the season.

HoS: 15 seconds left. Wildcats with the ball, down one. If you're Sean Miller, what do you draw up?

IL: If I am Sean Miller, I draw up a pick and roll involving Kadeem Allen and Ryan Anderson with Gabe York and Allonzo Trier spotting up. Both Allen and Anderson are excellent finishers in the lane and can draw contact on drives to the basket. York and Trier are Arizona’s best spot-up options, with York being a lethal three-point option while Trier is great in the midrange game.

The Wildcats were in a similar situation against Gonzaga although they were attempting to ice the game instead of come from behind. In that game, Miller drew up a two-man game with York and Anderson resulting in York finding a cutting Anderson for the bucket.

HoS: Prediction for Sunday's game?

IL: I predict the Wildcats finally shake off the woes of the curtain of distraction and beat the Sun Devils. The first half will be relatively close before Arizona turns it on in the second and puts the game out of reach.

Arizona - 77, Arizona State - 59