Coming into the 2012-2013 season, the biggest question mark surrounding the Sun Devils was post play.
In his final 13 games last season, Sun Devil center Jordan Bachynski averaged over 10 points per game. Despite his play, many critics doubted the stat lines and considered Bachynski’s play an aberration.
If last Saturday night was any indication, Bachynski’s success will carry over this season. In the Sun Devils’ season opener against Central Arkansas, Bachynski answered questions and silenced doubters. The Arizona State center served up a 17-point, 12-rebound, and nine-block effort that left him one rejection shy of the first triple-double in Arizona State history.
Bachynski, whose nine blocks set a new Arizona State record, thrived in Coach Herb Sendek’s new man-to-man scheme.
This Sunday, the Florida A&M Rattlers (0-2) come to Tempe and Bachynski will be waiting. The tallest Rattlers player, McWisdom Badejo, stands just 6 foot 8 and did not see the court in their 22-point loss to the Stetson Hatters Tuesday evening.
The strength of Florida A&M lies in their guard play, with Muhammad Abdul-Aleem and Jamie Adams each averaging 15.5 points per game in the Rattlers two losses this season.
Unfortunately for the Rattlers, the Sun Devils unleashed their new backcourt last Saturday and they have speed to burn. Led by freshman phenom Jahii Carson and transfer Evan Gordon, Arizona State plans on running by everyone.
After two disappointing losses to start the season, the Rattlers look to be at a disadvantage against the new look Sun Devils. Even with speed and size in their favor, the Sun Devils have to execute to avoid the letdown.
Keys to Success
1. Feed the Hot Hand
In his postgame press conference, Jordan Bachynski noted, “There have been lapses in my mental focus, but that’s one thing that I’ve been working on.” The Sun Devil guards can’t allow Bachynski to lose focus, so take advantage of his size and feed him the rock early and often.
2. Dictate the Tempo
The Sun Devils might not have many chances to play against inferior teams this season. The offense needs to capitalize on the opportunity and learn how to set the pace of play by controlling the speed of the game against Florida A&M.
3. Own the Perimeter
The Florida A&M guards will put up points, but the Sun Devils have to dominate beyond the arc. The Rattlers prefer to attack the rim; so let them deal with Bachynski. Four members of Arizona State’s starting lineup can take and make the three, and they need to improve on there 6 for 22 mark from the perimeter against Central Arkansas.
Matchup to Watch: Evan Gordon (Shooting Guard) vs. Muhammad Abdul-Aleem (Shooting Guard)
Against Central Arkansas, Gordon was tasked with defending Bears star LaQuentin Miles. Miles emerged with 6 points on 3 of 17 shooting, and Gordon draws a tough assignment yet again.
Abdul-Aleem shoots well, but he also rebounds much better than Miles did. If Gordon can hold Abdul-Aleem under 10 points and boxes out well, the Sun Devils should win by a double-digit margin.
Conversely, Gordon scored 14 against Central Arkansas, but shot just 4 of 14 from the field. That shooting percentage won’t cut it against Pac-12 opponents, so look for Gordon to focus on his shot selection.
Quote of the Week: On Making His ASU Debut: Jahii Carson, “I felt like a kid in a candy store.”
Mauricio Casillas: ASU 80, FAMU 65 Player of the Game-Evan Gordon
Kerry Crowley: ASU 76, FAMU 54 Player of the Game-Evan Gordon
Alex Gallant: ASU 82, FAMU 59 Player of the Game- Jonathan Gilling
Nick Krueger: ASU 85, FAMU 67 Player of the Game-Carrick Felix
Trey Lanthier: ASU 77, FAMU 69 Player of the Game-Jonathan Gilling
Cuyler Meade: ASU 74, FAMU 34 Player of the Game-Jordan Bachynski
Cammeron Neely: ASU 79, FAMU 65 Player of the Game- Jordan Bachynski
Evan Webeck: ASU 80, FAMU 62 Player of the Game-Jahii Carson
Predictions Update: The WCSN Staff has a prediction record of 8-0 this season.
Clubhouse Leader: All 8 participants are tied with 1 correct win/loss prediction.
Nick Kreuger currently leads the scoring prediction, missing the correct totals by a total of only two points.
Cuyler Meade has one correct MVP prediction and is alone with the lead.