PLEASE NOTE: The following article was written by freelance writer Eduardo Louzada, assisted and edited by TC Arizona Sports editor Tony Capobianco.
TEMPE, Ariz—With a 68-52 home win over to Coppin State concluding the non-conference portion of their season, the Arizona State Sun Devils are ready for the Pac-12.
They finished last year with a 10-21 record. With freshman point guard Jahii Carson as the difference, the Sun Devils finished the first two months of the season with one more win than all of last year.
“We surpassed our win total from last year so we’re pretty confident going into the conference,” Carson said
With Carson leading the way, the Sun Devils can expect around a .500 record in the Pac-12. A great improvement from the 6-12 conference record they had the previous year.
With top dogs Arizona and UCLA battling for the conference title; teams such as Oregon, Stanford, Washington, Utah and Arizona State will be looking to play the role as the conference dark horse. Dwelling at the bottom of the conference last year Arizona State has the potential to snag a NCAA bid to the tournament if they can steal a game or two on the road from a slew of potential bubble teams that will be the Pac-12 conference.
The Sun Devils will be led by freshman sensation Jahii Carson who leads the shooting of Sophomore Jonathan Gilling and senior Carrick Felix to soften up defenses for Carson. The key to the Sun Devils in conference play however, will be a suffocating man to man defense spear headed by ball pressure and consistent protection of the basket by Jordan Bachynski.
Defense will be the ASU’s offense as they lack any sort of post game to play a half court; grind it out sort of game. The pace must be kept high by Jahii Carson to open up transition 3’s and make up for the lack of a post game.
“Getting shots inside in basketball is like being able to get a few yards inside in football,” Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek said. “It’s important”
The Sun Devils will need to find ways to win games on the road where they struggled mightily last year only winning 2 games all of last year. They won their only road game in Texas Tech, but will have much tougher games coming up, including two trips to Tucson to play rival Arizona.
The Pac-12 conference will be a different beast for Arizona State as they will play teams in a different talent level then most of their non-conference teams. With 11 wins already accounted for, a .500 conference record will give them 20 wins, which should be enough for the NIT.