The Arizona State Sun Devils needed two overtimes to outlast Division II opponent Northern State by a final score of 98-90 Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
Though preseason matchups hardly carry any considerable weight, it was definitely a troubling evening head coach Bobby Hurley and Arizona State. That being said, let’s take a look at a few things we learned about ASU from Thursday’s opener:
Remy Martin should ease Tra Holder’s monstrous workload, and make a significant impact in doing so
The freshman guard from Chatsworth, California made his impact felt on the defensive side of the ball during early and often during the first half. Hurley had the former No. 85 recruit in the country pressure the one and two guards all night and Martin grabbed a couple fouls and a steal.
As far as a seasonal outlook, Martin won’t start but should see significant time off the bench. The Sun Devils had to rely on senior Tra Holder last year for 35.6 minutes per game – that won’t happen with Martin on the bench. His ceiling is too high to play him less than ten minutes a game and the offense will likely be more efficient when Holder can get a break here and there.
Kimani Lawrence gives the Devils an edge they haven’t had before
In lieu of front court issues last season, Hurley consistently rolled out a starting five without a true center. The Ramon Vila/Jethro Tshiumpa experiment in the frontcourt is all but over and the Kimani Lawrence era has begun.
At 6 foot 7, 200 pounds Lawerence gives the Sun Devils a truly-athletic stretch four that will likely play major minutes this season next to forwards Kodi Justice and Romello White. Lawrence flew all over the court Thursday night, finishing at the rim, leading the break and distrusting the ball effectively – all things ASU could’ve only dreamed of from their front court last year.
De’Quon Lake’s primary contributions could come on the defensive side of of the ball
Lake is a 6 foot 10 transfer from Iowa Western Community college that signed with the Sun Devils last March. He’s never been a prolific scorer, so it will be interesting to see how Hurley utilizes him with all of ASU’s more versatile options. A bench role relieving Lawrence/White seems like the most likely destination, but he can still make a difference on the defensive side of the ball.
Lake was aggressive under the basket — he managed three fouls — but also represented something the Devils didn’t have last season: front court defense. If Pac-12 teams had any semblance of an offensive presence underneath the hoop last year they dominated the paint. Lake won’t get the looks in transition or beyond the arc that other forwards on the team will, so he’ll likely maintain a focus on defense and rebounding.
With Torian Graham gone, this is Shannon Evan II’s offense to run
Holder will likely have a sizable impact as well, but Evans was unhinged against Northern State during the preseason scrimmage. He scored 24 on 18 shots and added nine points from the free throw line and five rebounds. He was much more efficient than Holder, but both will see an uptick in usage with “Green-Light Graham” out of the picture.
Justice will fill Graham’s role and become the third scoring option but likely won’t take as many shots as Graham did. Graham was a definitely a difference-maker and kept the Sun Devils in a lot of games they shouldn’t have been in, but often disrupted ASU’s offensive rhythm. Evans and Holder — two slashing guards that shoot the three around 35 percent — can now slowly develop offensive possessions around the pick and role with a less aggressive three guard/forward in Justice.
Notable remarks from Hurley following the game:
- “Where the team starting losing me some was just some of the decision making as the second half wore on and into the overtimes. We pushed the margin out and then stopped defending and then we also had some shot selection issues from guys that I don’t typically expect to have that issue.”
- “I did see some positives from Kimani (Lawrence) in the second half, he had a nice steal and some rebounding stuff that we needed, he didn’t shoot it well in the first half, (he) had some good looks but he bounced back from that.”
- “I thought Remy (Martin’s) defense and his play-making skills and his spirit on the bench. When he wasn’t in the game how he was positively trying to encourage his teammates.”
- On if shot selection from seniors near the end of the game concerned him — “Sometimes no matter how experienced they are, I’m trying to reach deep down and give those guys a pass right now... you would assume that better decisions would be made and I have a high standard because of what they’ve done and the careers they’ve had, but they’ll bounce back just like we need to bounce back”