Point-Guard-Less U: Previewing The Arizona State Sun Devils

So . . . that last game didn’t go as planned. But I have good news – our next game is Cal vs. point-guard-less U, otherwise known as Arizona St. The Sun Devils are one of a few different symbols for why the Pac-12 hasn’t been so good. A hell-storm of injuries, academic issues and transfers have left a roster bereft of depth, talent and experience. Yet despite it all ASU actually has three conference wins. Why can’t I quit you, Pac-12?

Usually I wait until after the jump to start talking stats, but for Arizona St. one number utterly defines their season: A turnover percentage of 25.7, the 8th worst in the nation. Take that, Stetson! The Sun Devils turn the ball over once every four possessions, a stunning number for a major conference team. In an 11 point loss to Fairfield, ASU turned the ball over 35% of the time! Could you imagine watching that? But that’s what happens when you have no point guards on the roster.

ASU’s best player by a wide margin is Trent Lockett, but he’s out. That leaves just seven available scholarship players and a serious lack of guard depth. ONE OF US! Except the guards that ASU still has aren't Jorge Gutierrez or Allen Crabbe, so neener-neener.

Rotation Players Scholarship Players ASU has left:

Chris Colvin, 6’2’’ Guard
Carrick Felix, 6’6’’ Guard
Chanse Creekmur, 6’5’’ Wing
Jonathan Gilling, 6’7’’ Forward
Kyle Cain, 6’7’’ Forward
Ruslan Pateev, 7’0’’ Center
Jordan Bachynski, 7’2’’ Center

A healthy Trent Lockett would make it 8, but he is still out with an ankle injury. ASU also has three walk-ons who have combined for 82 minutes and 7 points – one of them is Max Heller, a 5’9’’ guard who played 11 minutes against Stanford and will probably get some time on the court against Cal.

Cain is probably ASU’s best healthy, eligible player – he’s an active rebounder and a solid scorer, and doesn’t turn the ball over quite as often as anybody else.

Pateev and Bachynski are both really tall guys who block some shots and grab a few boards by virtue of being really tall and don’t do much else. Colvin and Felix are the guys who have been forced to handle the ball more and Colvin in particular turns it over frequently.

Tempo-Free Preview

Kenpom sez: Cal 74, Arizona St. 54, 96% confidence

Category

Cal Rank

ASU Rank

Advantage

Cal eFG% vs. ASU Def eFG%

51

170

CC

Cal Def eFG% vs. ASU eFG%

68

49

A

Cal TO% vs. ASU Def TO%

43

306

CCC

Cal Def TO% vs. ASU TO%

187

338

CC

Cal OReb% vs. ASU DReb%

123

133

C

Cal DReb% vs. ASU OReb%

14

256

CCC

Cal FTR vs. ASU Opp FTR

248

218

A

Cal Opp FTR vs. ASU FTR

21

57

C

Cal AdjO vs. ASU AdjD

46

241

CC

Cal AdjD vs. ASU AdjO

20

206

CC


As far as I’m concerned this is game should be the biggest lock for the rest of the season. Sure, Utah is plenty bad but Cal plays this game at Haas and Utah has actually been kinda frisky in Salt Lake City.

ASU does one thing well – when they actually get a shot off it goes in a pretty decent percent of the time. Believe it or not, they actually shoot the ball about as well as the Bears, which makes you wonder what they might be capable of with a decent distributor or two. But Trent Lockett was their best shooter, and whatever they gain by shooting well is more than offset by turnovers and an inability to get any kind of traction on the offensive glass.

Defensively, ASU is almost as bad at forcing turnovers as they are at avoiding them on offense. That’s not a huge surprise because Herb Sendek’s matchup zone isn’t typically a turnover producing machine. But the zone is supposed to prevent easy shots and avoid fouls, and to this point it has done neither. For as much publicity as ASU’s bad offense has gotten, their defense has arguably been worse.

This is a game that Cal absolutely cannot afford to lose, and that statement was true before the Bears lost to Arizona. A loss here would change my stance from ‘We deserve an at-large spot’ to ‘Well, at least the NIT means Jorge gets more home games.’ Show no mercy, Bears.

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