ASU basketball hits the road for their only meetings against Washington State and Washington, who enter Thursday 10th and 11th in the Pac-12 respectively.
Entering a series against two of the three worst teams in the conference in Washington State and Washington, it is easy to forget the dire importance this weekend holds to Arizona State’s season.
Even though WSU and UW have struggled, in the 2019 version of the Pac-12 cakewalks are not common. WSU has been in competitive games against the likes of No. 7 Oregon State and No. 17 Utah before, plus ASU gains no momentum by sleepwalking in Washington. This is the last series of the year where the Devils do not play ranked squads. Two wins is a must.
Before the final push into tournament season begins, ASU has some kinks to work out on offense, and the best time to do so would be before the gauntlet (four ranked teams in five games to end the year) begins.
Looking at ASU’s offensive numbers, the turnover rate is low, rebounding seems to be no issue yet shooting percentages are mediocre. The Devils are ninth in conference play in field goal percentage and 10th from beyond the arc. Why?
“Being more connected and our flow,” said senior Kianna Ibis on what needs to improve offensively after last week’s win over Arizona. “Sometimes we’re stopping and staring at each other for five seconds before going.”
ASU does not work quickly on offense which leads to possessions that don’t look fluid. That in turn results in many contested shots near the end of the shot clock.
Better screens, cuts and execution of plays will be needed to earn easier baskets down the stretch, and what better teams to work on that against than the three that allow the most points per game in the Pac-12 (Colorado allows the most and plays in Tempe after the Washington series)?
ASU is in fifth place in the conference at 6-4 and one game behind fourth-place Utah. The two square off in less than two weeks at Wells Fargo Arena. A top-four seed means a first round bye at the Pac-12 Tournament, which is a major boost given the depth of the conference (nine teams have won at least 59 percent if their games this season).
Also, the goal of hosting a regional in the NCAA Tournament is on the line during every game at this stage in the year for Arizona State. ESPN has ASU on the brink in its latest projections, but a fall in Washington could produce irrevocable damage to the Devils’ résumé.
- ASU has defeated Washington State seven straight times and Washington in five of their last seven matchups.
- Opposing player to watch this weekend: Borislava Hristova of WSU scored 24 points in her last game. She averages 19.7 on the conference season, good for seventh in the Pac-12.
- Kianna Ibis has 1,018 career points at ASU. She averages 17.1 per game in conference play. Based on that, she is projected to finish the regular season with 1,154, 15th in school history. If she averages 17.1 in the postseason, Arizona State will need to play six games between the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments for her to break the top-10.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.