NCAA: AZ State Sun Devil Men’s Basketball Preview
Last season the Arizona State Sun Devils Men’s basketball team made some improving strides. They won 22 games and went 16-4 at home, after consecutive losing seasons. But, for all that improvement, it wasn’t enough to get them into the NCAA tournament, so they had to settle for another bid to the NIT. The Sun Devils have had just one NCAA Tournament appearance over the last seven years. Sun Devils fans are hoping this season will see the Sun Devils get their second bid to the “dance” under Coach Herb Sendek.
There will be eight newcomers to the 2013-2014 roster, but they will still have plenty of talent and quite a bit of experience to go along with the new players.
First and foremost everyone on the team will be asked to build around sophomore sensation, Jahii Carson. He will be the floor leader, as well as the locker-room leader this season. A role he handled very well last season.
Carson came to Arizona State as one of the most talked about in-state-recruits in the school’s history and he backed up that statement. The point guard, who says this is his final season at Arizona State, averaged 18.5 points and 5.1 assists last year while playing over 37 minutes a game. Coach Sendek is planning on speeding up the offense this season to get the most out of Carson’s skill set. He is one of the quickest players in college basketball and he plays a relentless, attacking style in the half court. He also brings to his game a terrific first step, along with advanced ball-handling skills.
Not all of the newcomers to the Sun Devil team are freshmen. The Sun Devils will rely more on their transfers to immediately step in and provide support. The biggest name in that group is Jermaine Marshall (no relation to me). The 6-4 senior transfer from Penn State averaged 15.3 points per game. He will be asked to take on some of the scoring and hopefully that will take some of the pressure off Carson. Unfortunately for Marshall he has been dealing with a case of Valley Fever. He has missed some practice, but is working towards returning to the court soon. Let’s hope Marshall can return to the floor without any missed game time. Marshall is the most experienced of a group of newcomers looking to get into the regular rotation.
Others who are looking to jump into that rotation might include Junior College transfer Shaquielle McKissic and former Corona Del Sol player Calaen Robinson (who sat out last year). Two other newcomers that could step in and play will be freshmen Chance Murray, who can play both guard positions but will be counted on to be a shooting guard off the bench and Egor Koulechov who can play both forward and guard.
Early on in the season look for the frontcourt of the Sun Devils to help Carson out and provide leadership and reliability. Jordan Bachynski, who really stepped up his game last year, will be a key factor again this season. He averaged 9.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.4 blocks. The 7-2 center is going to block a lot of shots, but the team will look to him for more scoring during his final season for the Sun Devils. If Bachynski can take that next offensive step, he and Carson could take this team a long way in Pac 12. Jonathan Gilling will be counted on as well for rebounding and his defense. Gilling is not your typical forward, he can stretch out the defense with his three-point shooting ability and his passing skills are above average for a big forward.
The Sun Devils always have a hard time getting fans to attend home games or pay them much attention at all, but this year they will be fast, exciting and fun to watch.
If all of the newcomers live up to their potential and can mix well with the returning players and if Carson avoids a sophomore slump, this is a team that should reach the NCAA Tournament and then we can see how far they will go in March.
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