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Cal Men's Basketball looks to deal with the Sun Devils

You can't accuse Coach Herb Sendek of remaining stagnant and stubborn. After an entire career of playing at a deliberate pace, he decided to go uptempo last season. It was the perfect fit for his electrifying point guard, Jahii Carson, and resulted in a 22-win campaign.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

This year, he wants to play even faster and has installed the "3-12-24" plan.

Players have three seconds to get the ball across half court, twelve seconds to get a shot attempt up, and will practice exclusively on a 24-second shot clock.

The fatal flaw in his plan, unfortunately, is that Arizona State students can't count that high.

Fortunately, you only need a single finger to direct the Sun Devil offense; give it to Jahii Carson(#1). He's not just the engine that drives ASU, he may very well be the wheels, sunroof, and the cute little cup holder that you didn't even know you needed. His ability to break down the defense is what sets up everyone else for open jumpers or opportunities in the paint.

On defense, Coach Sendek has scrapped his favored match-up zone in favor of a man to man defense. This is to take advantage of the league's best shot-blocker, Jordan Bachnynski. Averaging a mildly disconcerting 4.5 blocks per game, the 7-footer is a game-changer for an otherwise average defense.

The x-factor is that ASU lost their second-leading scorer, Jermaine Marshall, to a groin injury two weeks ago. They have almost no production off their bench, so replacing his 15 points/game was a concern. Naturally, he's back in time to face us. However, it's uncertain if he's recovered to his earlier form.

Like Cal, ASU is just a notch down from the conference leaders. Although the Sun Devils dropped a bad one at home to UW, they did rout the Trojans at the Galen Center and ran the Buffaloes off the court by 20+ points.

As with all conference games, protecting the home court is vital. With Cal's rough trip to SoCal in the rear view mirror, and the #1 Wildcats looming, this is one we have to take.

Projected Starters:

C Jordan Bachynski(Sr), 7'2, 248 lbs, 12 ppg, 9 rpg, 4.5 bpg
F Jonathan Gilling(Jr), 6'7, 219 lbs, 6.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg
G/F Shaquielle McKissic(Jr), 6'5, 200 lbs, 8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg
G Jermaine Marshall(Sr), 6'4, 215 lbs, 15 ppg,
G Jahii Carson(So), 5'10, 180 lbs, 18.2 ppg, 4.6 apg


G/F Egor Koulechov(Fr), 6'5, 205 lbs, 4.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg
F Eric Jacobsen(So), 6'10, 235 lbs, 2 ppg, 1.7 rpg

G Chance Murray(Fr), 6'2, 180 lbs, 3 ppgG Brandon Kearney(Jr), 6'5, 190 lbs, 2.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Jordan Bachynski broke out last year with a 9 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.4 bpg season. As formidable as that was, he's even better this year and has evolved from just a shot-blocker into a scoring threat.

Jonathan Gilling plays as a stretch-four. He's a very good passer, but is also one of the top three point shooters on the team. (42% 3FG)

Shaquielle McKissic is a JuCo transfer from Edmonds Community College. (22 ppg) His jump shot is a bit shaky, but he's a capable scorer off the dribble.

Brandon Kearney is a transfer from Michigan State who just became eligible to play. Like all Tom Izzo players, you'd expect him to be tough and able to defend. Although he was expected to be their 6th man, he's been pressed into duty as a starter after Marshall went down to injury. He's not nearly the scorer, but he does offer some three point shooting. (43% 3FG)

Jermaine Marshall is a transfer from Penn State. He's been a much needed second scorer next to Carson and is by far their best three point shooter. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, he injured his groin against UCLA and the timetable on his return is unknown.

Key Matchups:

1) Insert sports cliche here about effort, intensity, focus. The coaches have talked about needing to play harder. The players have talked about needing to play harder. Talk is cheap, fellas. Let's see it.

2) Cobbs vs. Carson

NBA scouts might be paying attention to this match-up. Carson is lightning-quick and is the better shooter. Cobbs is stronger and finishes better at the rim. Like the Randle/Cobbs match-up, Carson is more of a scoring point while Cobbs is the better set-up man. In different ways, both will have their hands full guarding the other.

3) Solomon/Kravish vs. Bachynski

When Cal played against the Furds, Solo and Kravish out-hustled and out-played their counterparts. Against USC, they let themselves get completely taken out of the game and appeared intimidated by Oraby's hulking presence in the paint. Bachynski is going to get his blocks. It's what he does. But we still need to work it inside and finish strong. Against UC Irvine, Monty took their 7'6 center out of the game by involving him in a lot of high screen and rolls. The same type of two-man game between Solomon and Cobbs might get Bachynski in foul trouble.

Cal might also chose to go with just one post and move him out to draw Bachynski away from the basket.

4) Wing and Bench Scoring

The Sun Devils rely almost exclusively on their starters. They get very little production from anywhere else. When Cal has been successful, we've had a balanced attack. Our veterans have generally been steady, but we'll need either Wallace, Mathews, Bird, or Powers to provide another source of points.

Go Bears!

Tip-Off: Wednesday, January 29, 8pm
Television: ESPNU
Radio: KGO 810 AM