ASU Basketball: Sun Devils Take on Stanford


Tonight, the ASU Men’s basketball team takes on Stanford at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto.  Tip-off is at 10 pm and will be broadcast on ESPNU.  This is ASU’s second game of the Bay area trip.  They are coming off of a blow-out win against Cal on Thursday night.  Stanford on the other hand is coming off of a loss at home against the U of A.

Stanford will present a tougher test for ASU than the Cal Bears.  The Cardinal feature guard Chasson Randle and center Stefan Nastic, who are both prolific scorers and outstanding defenders.  Stanford is 13-5 and played Arizona tough on Thursday night.

For ASU, the game plan may change to suit Stanford’s strengths and style of play, but the formula for winning is the same:  Play hard.  It sounds simple, but it’s true.  When this ASU team digs in, puts their heads down and plays unconsciously, they can beat anyone.  They can knock down shots, take care of the ball, crash the boards hard and play great defense….when they want to.

That appears to be the challenge for coach Herb Sendek.  He’s got to find the right touch to motivate his players to play with that hungry reckless abandon that they are capable of.  Devils in Detail won’t try to do coach Sendek’s job for him, however, it might be a good idea to start the same lineup and use the exact same rotation that he used Thursday night in Berkeley.  In that game, the Sun Devils looked like a well-oiled machine, passing and cutting with efficiency to find the open man.

A big road win like that on Thursday can galvanize a team and give them supreme confidence.  In college basketball, gaining the proper amount of confidence is half the battle.  If this ASU team truly believes they can beat Stanford, they have a shot at doing so.

The effort, once again, starts with forward Shaquelle McKissic.  His energy and attacking style is what gets the ASU squad in the right mindset.  It will help, of course, if Kodi Justice, Bo Barnes and Jon Gilling can have another good shooting night.  But the key matchup will probably be down low.  The battle between Stanford’s Stefan Nastic and ASU’s Eric Jacobsen will be a critical sub-plot for this game.  Jacobsen has the burden of keeping Nastic in check without getting into foul trouble.

A win for ASU tonight will be a big step for this program.  Obviously, it will seriously help them in the conference standings.  But most of all, it will send a message to the rest of the league that ASU has turned the corner and is a different team now.  A team no one can take lightly.