I’m mad at Sun Devil hoops.
After four years of watching inept, lazy basketball, they figure it out once my student ID expires. I guess a good hoops team is a solid graduation gift.
Seriously though, the Devils have turned their program into one to watch. So let’s get into the first ever basketball edition of the “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”
The Good-Defending DFA
Warren Washington, Desmond and Devon Cambridge and Alonzo Gaffney have reinvented the defensive identity of the Devils in 2022. Desmond Cambridge leads this unit with 1.4 steals per game while Washington turns into Dessert Sasquatch in the paint, swatting away 2.1 shots per game and pushing defenders and teams away from the dish.
When it’s come to defending home court, the Devils have posted an impressive 8-1 record to date, and they made it to New Year’s Eve without suffering a loss at Desert Financial Arena. Even though it was to that stinky team down south, it took the fifth ranked team in the country to knock off the Devils at home. Additionally, the Devils’s ability to play away from home is noticeably different from last year. So far, the Devils are undefeated at neutral sites, including a victory over Michigan in Brooklyn. This is a vast improvement over last season, where the Devils went all season without a neutral site win.
The Bad-The Marcus Bagley situation
Just when it felt like everything was going the Devils’s way, they were faced with one of the most bizarre situations in the program’s recent memory. Star forward Marcus Bagley was sitting on the bench, without uniform. While the team got in more of a groove, minutes for Bagley were reduced to zero. Bagley then tweeted about an incident with Bobby Hurley, got suspended, and he has since taken a leave of absence from the program. While Bagley’s impact on the court hasn’t been missed, the situation tainted what felt like an already tense relationship with Bagley and the program.
The Ugly-The loss in the Bay
Rolling off of nine straight victories and an 11-1 start, the Devils had freshly cracked the top-25 with a trip to play the University of San Francisco on deck.
The game couldn’t have gone worse.
The Devils left the Bay with a 37 point loss on their resume, which also happened to be the only game where they allowed more than 71 points.
ASU was quickly wiped from the top-25, and while they’ve responded with back-to-back wins and a tight loss to Arizona since, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they aren’t hurt on selection Sunday because of that loss (if they do indeed end up making it that far.)
I’m nitpicking at the San Francisco loss, but this team has juice. At the end of the day, you are what your record is, and this is a winning program that has had to win games in a multitude of ways.
While the Pac-12 gauntlet part of the schedule hasn’t hit quite yet, this team has faced and handled adversity with effectiveness, and seems poised make a run at the “Big Dance” in March for the first time since 2019.