The Idaho State Bengals have one thing in common with Arizona State so far this season. They both know what a blowout feels like and they both are hungry for another one.
The Bengals opened up their season squashing the Evergreen State Geoducks in a 99-62 victory last Saturday. Similarly, the Sun Devils just narrowly missed putting up triple digits with a 90-54 win over Miami of Ohio on Tuesday.
Head coach Herb Sendek used his huge lead against the Redhawks to experiment with a smaller and more explosive lineup speed-wise. He gave his freshmen and transfers ample minutes and Jahii Carson had no trouble feeding the ball to his newcomers
Sendek poked and prodded and never let satisfaction stand in his way of a chance to tryout something that may work better down the line. Hopefully something that may help them defeat the Bengals as they arrive in Sun Devil country tonight.
Keys to the Game:
1. Start out strong:
The last two games the Sun Devils have missed too many shots early, causing a slow start. Luckily, it did not prove a huge consequence to them against Miami or University of Maryland, Balitmore County (UMBC). However, if they don’t turn that around it will begin to affect them as they face teams that knock down shots from the time the ball is tipped into their hands. While the speed and hustle from the beginning is strong, the Sun Devils need to be more intelligent with the ball. They need to move the ball around the perimeter and get it to the man with the best shot, not just the first one to get open.
2. Passing Precision:
One thing that Herb Sendek always emphasizes after the game is the selflessness of his players with the ball. Therefore, it is not the amount of passing that needs improvement, but rather the accuracy and precision of the passing. 23 turnovers in the last two games have been a result of this weakness. The Sun Devils bounce pass needs to be utilized more often and cross-court passing needs to reach the intended player and not the pretzel-eating fan in his seat. This will help diminish turnovers, which is something that needs to be addressed before facing a team that forced 19 turnovers in their last game.
3. Keep the free throw percentage up:
The Sun Devils ended the UMBC game with a free-throw percentage of 75 percent going 33 for 44 from the line but then only four of 13 from the charity stripe against Miami so it has been a roller coaster to say the least. The first game huge improvement from last year, which Sendek noted was by far “the team’s biggest weakness.” If the Sun Devils can keep tallying up those points from the line, it will be an invaluable factor when it comes to marginal victories.
4. Rebound, Rebound, Rebound:
This is by far the biggest asset to any win. Last game, Jordan Bachynski had another big night, putting up double digits in the rebound column. Likewise, both Jeffrey Solarin and Chris Hansen of Idaho State came away with ten rebounds a piece. The Sun Devils need to utilize their size and bring that athletic prowess to get as many guys in that rebound column as possible, especially on defense. Taking away that second shot will help in limiting the ability of the Bengals’ lead-scorers.
Matchup to watch: Jermaine Marshall vs. Chris Hansen
Chris Hansen is the junior returning scorer for the Bengals and might prove a challenge to defend. Hansen averages 11.4 points a game and poses a deep threat from behind the arc. Like Marshall, he has the size and ability to drive inside the paint and knock down the shot. Marshall has had two solid performances with 19 points in the season-opener and 18 points against Miami. If he can either draw the defenders to him and enable an open shot, or continue to put up the points at the rate he has been, he will play be a vital part in the Sun Devils’ strategic quest to a victory tonight.