Some notes on this year’s ASU team:
1) The Back Court is Athletic
In recent years, ASU has not had the most athletic guards. Even if they had one athlete, they had no depth. It’s a different story this year. Besides Jahii Carson, the addition of newcomer Jermaine Marshall, Shaquielle McKissic, Caelen Robinson and Chance Murray have added speed, athleticism and depth to the Sun Devil backcourt. This puts them in line with the backcourt talent of the elite teams in the Pac-12.
2) The Sun Devils Can Shoot
As stated earlier, ASU is averaging 90 points per game. A big part of that average is the improved three-point shooting. Carson has improved his shooting beyond the arc. But Marshall is a terrific three-point shooter as well. Throw in Robinson and junior forward Jonathan Gilling, and opponents really have to be aware and defend the perimeter.
3) ASU is Pushing the Ball
This season, ASU is using a more up-tempo style. They actually began this last season, but this year’s team is really embracing it. This is not the typical style that coach Sendek utilizes. But it’s a good move for this season. The aforementioned athleticism in the program is driving this tempo. Not only are the Sun Devils pushing the ball for easy looks, they are showing good judgment by not forcing bad shots. They are pulling the ball out to find a good shot for the right shooter. This shows maturity and unselfishness.
4) Bachynski is a Force
Senior center Jordan Bachynski is playing like a legitimate seven-footer. He may not be throwing down 30 points a night, but he is bringing the presence that every team desperately seeks from a big man. Bachynski is a record-setting shot blocker and an excellent rebounder. He is also having his best season finishing around the basket with authority. His presence at both ends of the floor will be crucial.
5) Carson is a Star
ASU point guard Jahii Carson is proving to be the superstar that everybody hoped he would be. Not only is he almost impossible to guard one on one, but also his mid-range and outside games have improved. He brings that competitiveness that all great players have. And he shows up in big moments of big games. Carson also exhibits unselfishness and a willingness to play tough defense. Teams are going to struggle to find an answer to Jahii this season.
Overall, there is only one weakness for the ASU basketball team right now: rebounding. The Sun Devils must add that to their game. They must become hungry and ferocious rebounders. Other than that, so far, they have given ASU fans something to be excited about. And they appear to have what it takes to make a run at a Pac-12 title and a shot at the Big Dance in March.