One of ASU’s biggest strengths in non-conference, haunts them in Pac-12 opener

Coming in 11-2 and opening at home against two teams who were projected to be two of the worst in the conference, ASU hoops was hoping to get off to a fast start in Pac-12 play vs. Washington and Washington State this week.

But that hope was shot down after the first game in conference play against the Huskies as the Sun Devils had a very poor showing on both ends of the floor in a 76-65 loss on Thursday.

What was most concerning coming out of the loss, was ASU’s shooting. Now any team can have an off night shooting the ball. But it wasn’t just the shots not falling, it was how ASU tried to dig themselves out of a rutt as basketballs continued to bounce off the rim.

Head Coach Herb Sendek noted after the game that their shot selection had been one of their biggest strengths in non-conference play so far this season. But was “terrible” in this game.

“We didn’t make each other better,” mentioned ASU Center Jordan Bachynski. “It’s tough because when you do get down, there is that panic feeling…It’s not like we are bad guys, we are just trying to help our team. It’s a tough situation and you have to learn from it and move on.”

The shots will fall. As a team, the Sun Devils came into their game with Washington shooting 48% from the field. Jahii Carson has seen his assist numbers up from a season ago as there are more reliable options around him to rely upon.

“I really wasn’t trying to attack and take bad shots,” Carson stated after the game. “Last year I probably would have tried to take bad shots but that’s when guys look at me doing that, then they will start to do that as well.”

“I didn’t want to look bad out there,” he added. “It’s not my intention to go out there and score 30 points. It’s my intention to be a basketball player and make my teammates better.”

It is just one game but it is one that creates a big hole for the Sun Devils. As mentioned, Washington was projected to be one of the bottom feeders in the Pac-12 this season with a lot of young and unproven players. A home loss to them as well as the fact that ASU will not travel to Washington to make up for the loss, could really hurt them come selection sunday for the NCAA tournament.

There will be plenty of opportunities for ASU to get quality wins in this conference and make this loss in particular look like just a bump in the road, but if their response to adversity throughout conference play is anything like the adversity seen in the Washington game, the conference schedule could turn into quick sand for this team.