Romello White will be returning to a familiar setting this Saturday against Georgia.
White, a native of Suwanee, GA who was once committed to Georgia Tech, will return to his home state to take on the Bulldogs this weekend. White expects to have somewhere around 40-50 family and friends in attendance.
“I am going to be hyped up from the jump,” White said. “It’s going to be crazy. They (White’s family) haven’t seen me play in person in college yet. They have only watched me on TV.”
Georgia is currently 5-3 in its young season under first-year head coach Tom Crean, who was fired after a nine-year run at Indiana.
The drive from White’s hometown to Athens is about an hour and 10 minute venture. Growing up in the area, the four-star prospect grew accustomed to playing some of the best talent the state had to offer.
The Bulldogs boast 10 players from The Peach State, creating some familiarity for the big man. White has played against each one of the home-state players at one time or another growing up.
“It’s going to help me a lot,” said White of playing against some familiar faces. “One of their bigs, I played against him. I know what he likes to do, and I know some things that he does (in the post).”
For head coach Bobby Hurley, he knows the importance of Friday’s trip to the South for White. It’s a trip into SEC country in a place where he grew up. Channeling emotions will be important, but Hurley looks at the pre-game excitement and energy as a positive rather than a negative.
“I am excited for him, that’s why we were happy that we were able to set this game up, because it gave him a chance for that. We like to do that with as many guys from out of the area as possible,” Hurley said. “I can see the way he has been practicing, and the enthusiasm for getting on that plane tomorrow...I’d rather have a guy more ready to play than less.”
As for what White and his teammates were focusing on during practice this week, the team is hungry during a three-game stretch that includes two SEC road games, and a pre-Christmas showdown with No. 1 Kansas. All three matchups can help bolster ASU’s resume come March.
Following the team’s first loss of the season against No. 7 Nevada in a hard-fought contest, the Devils are looking to bounce back, and White believes the team can do so with a more sustained effort on the defensive end. Nevada shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the second half against ASU.
“Don’t get caught up on a loss, we just have to keep going hard,” White said. “Nobody likes the feeling of losing...We just have to get back to what we were doing. We kind of slacked off on defense in the second half (against Nevada), and I feel like that’s what caused us to lose. We are really focused on playing defense through the whole 40 minutes.”
Along with defense, another glaring issue for ASU in the game against Nevada was first-game returns from injuries for sophomore guard Remy Martin and redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards, who combined for just seven points on 2-11 shooting.
Nonetheless, returning from injuries is often never easy, and the restoration to full health is a gradual process. It also doesn’t make things much easier when the opponent is as tough and physical as Nevada in a first game back.
“We got to be patient with those guys as they get adjusted from a lot of time off,” said Hurley of Martin and Edwards. “I just know that there are great things ahead for both of those guys. They are moving a lot better than they did last week.”
Returning to health, and with motivation to play for White in a trip back home, ASU will look to take two games down south, beginning with Georgia on Saturday, followed by a trip to Nashville on Monday to take on Vanderbilt.
“It’s an opportunity to play two road games and see how we handle that,” Hurley said. “This will be our first true one (road game), so it’s exciting and that’s kind of why we set it up, because we have to do better in the Pac-12 this year than we have done in past years, and especially learning to win games on the road.”