The ASU men’s basketball team takes on Stanford this afternoon at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto. Stanford is coming off a tough loss to #1 ranked Arizona. The Cardinal are 13-7 overall and 4-4 in the PAC-12.
Stanford is a tough team to figure out. Their record and their effort against U of A prove that they are a worthy team. But they appear to be hot and cold with their shooting—along with their rebounding and defense. Surely, head coach Johnny Dawkins is looking for some consistency.
Leading the way for Stanford is forward Josh Huestis and guard Chasson Randle. Forwards Anthony Brown and Dwight Powell are right behind them statistically. Top to bottom, the Stanford starting five is pretty solid. They are talented and make good use of every possession on offense. One of their weaknesses is their depth. Very few subs come off the bench and make an impact. The other weakness is the aforementioned inconsistency.
For ASU, as always, their success or failure has more to do with themselves than their opponent. If they play defense with great awareness and communication, rebound with intensity, and attack on offense, they will probably be fine. They showed all of those things (for the most part) against Cal on Wednesday.
Right now, ASU is hot. Winners of three in a row, they appear to be quite confident and chomping at the bit to get on the court. Obviously, this is good news if you are an ASU fan. The recent line-up change and the emergence of Bo Barnes has been a winning recipe for the Sun Devils.
However, in college basketball, there is no substitute for hunger. If this ASU team is “talking” about being hungry for an NCAA tourney bid and making a run in their own conference tournament, they have to do more than just talk about it. They have to play hungry. They have to hunt.
This effort must be led by point guard Jahii Carson and followed closely by Jermaine Marshall and Jordan Bachynsky. The other role players must do their part, no doubt, but the defensive effort and attacking mentality on offense starts with Carson. When he’s hot, everybody else gets in on the act.
This is yet another critical road game for ASU. Stanford is a good team, but not a great team. They are good enough to beat the Sun Devils. But they shouldn’t. If ASU “shows up” mentally, they should win. A victory at Stanford would be another step towards their goal of national recognition. A loss would be two steps backward.