With three straight losses and now a game under .500, the Arizona State basketball season has taken a sharp turn south for a team that was expected to win the conference this year and came into 2020-21 with high hopes and expectations.
There’s a variety of off the court factors that have led to the downward turn, including illness, missing players, and postponed games. It’s been a lot to navigate over the last month for Bobby Hurley’s group, and the Sun Devils are looking to change their fortunes beginning this weekend with Oregon State.
Without All-American Remy Martin over the last two games and only eight scholarship players to go up against USC and UCLA, ASU fought valiantly, but ultimately fell.
“I’m trying to really hope to get some continuity on offense. We’re getting some guys back and hoping to improve in some of those areas,” Hurley said. “I had a really good vision of this being an outstanding offensive team coming in and it hasn’t really come together the way we had hoped and there’s been a lot of reasons why.”
With only a third of the schedule down in the Sun Devils season and nine games played, there’s still plenty of time for ASU to right the ship. With that being said, many areas of their game need to improve, including rebounding, offensive rhythm, and just knocking down shots.
Martin and highly-touted freshman Josh Christopher are both shooting under 30 percent from three-point range and as a team, many players have struggled finding consistency shooting from the floor.
ASU has also been out rebounded in nearly all of its games this season. With Jalen Graham out due to mono and a thin frontcourt, freshman Marcus Bagley has had to step up and lead the team on the glass, hauling in 7.8 rebounds per game.
An emphasis on team rebounding will be needed in order for the Sun Devils to compete with other bigs in the conference. There’s no inside presence that is going to box out other team’s bigs with force. Guards need to come down to crash the glass, too.
“We already have a small roster and being without our starting big man, Jalen Graham, it makes it even tougher on us,” Bagley said, “but rebounding isn’t always about how big you are. It’s about going to get it (the ball). We can definitely do better in that department and I feel like we’re working on it.”
It’s still early on the ASU schedule, and between COVID-19 outbreaks, missing players, and missed games, there’s still a lot left on the table.
Hurley liked his team’s energy in practice this week and is excited about getting back on the road this weekend after not making a true road trip out of the state since Dec. 3. His team has been tested by many road blocks as of late, but if the Sun Devils are able to find their stride with a relatively healthy lineup now, they can take steps back on the right track.
“Everyone has been beaten up this year and I still believe that there’s a chance to rally and get this thing going again,” Hurley said. “I think we have some nice pieces that can do that and guys that have proven they can do it. Now it’s a matter of knowing that we have seven to eight weeks left and do we want to go all in and see what we can make out of this season.”