This season, the Arizona State Men’s basketball team is 2-6 on the road in conference games. Fortunately for them, most of the PAC-12 is suffering the same fate.
College basketball is notorious for favoring the home team. It’s been that way forever in every conference. When a team is at home, they feel more comfortable, more rested and less distracted. The home game doesn’t interrupt their routine or rhythm. And of course, the adrenaline rush from a home crowd that is cheering you on is uplifting and builds confidence. Additionally, there are plenty of conspiracy theorists that always throw in the possibility that referees are influenced by the crowd and therefore make favorable calls for the home team down the stretch of a game.
Whatever dynamics are going on, the bottom line is; every team needs to protect their home court. And…. every team needs to learn how to win on the road. The teams that figure out how to do this are the teams that will make a run in March.
Everybody plays well at home, including ASU. But the road is where you earn your respect; respect from your opponents and from the selection committee.
No legitimate college basketball expert will deny that this ASU squad is talented and well-coached. But the Sun Devils need to re-examine their mental approach and preparation for road games.
Most basketball players will tell you that the only part of their game affected by playing on the road is shooting. Makes sense. Those same players will admit that playing on the road has nothing to do with hustling for rebounds/ loose balls and getting back on defense. It also has nothing to do with setting screens, taking care of the ball or committing silly fouls.
This Sun Devil team absolutely must be cerebral enough to identify and correct the source of their road woes. They are smart enough, mature enough and experienced enough to do this.
Saturday’s game at Oregon State is crucial to ASU’s success in the conference tournament. A victory against the Beavers would cut the field down to 5 before they even play a game in Las Vegas. On top of that, a victory would give this team some momentum and build confidence in their ability to play in front of a crowd that isn’t in their corner.
Furthermore, ASU is not yet in the field of 64. A bad loss in Corvalis followed by an early exit in Las Vegas might cause some members of the selection committee to reconsider ASU as part of the NCAA tournament.