Most of us have mixed feelings about risk, in part because facing any challenge can present internal dilemmas about the immediate task at hand. Risk forces change and change can be uncomfortable. Risk tempts you with rewards yet repels you with its inherent uncertainties.
Bobby Hurley has to let it all hang out tonight on Ralph Miller Court in Corvallis. Sun Devil Basketball had Oregon State on the ropes in Tempe earlier this season but allowed them to come back from an 18 point deficit late. Tonight Arizona State needs to “dive right in” and fight.
Bobby Hurley can provide all of the balance his young guards need. But we must face the challenge directly, devoting everything we have to move through and past the Oregon State Beavers who are a half-game behind us in Pac-12 standings. This match-up could determine if Sun Devil Basketball will have a bye in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Tonight the Devils need to hit the gas and run the court!
Oregon State can be rushed into quick shots, and they struggle with ball control. It would be nice to see Coach Hurley use ¾ court and ½ court presses in spurts to unsettle Beaver guards, then default to a 2-3 zone to defend space and pack in the paint. Maybe a zone and one to chase around Beaver star Tres Tinkle. Have Dort and Lawrence share responsibility here.
OSU will use eight or nine players to keep legs fresh. This is something to pay attention to tonight. When Arizona State fatigues it gets erratic if not outright ugly. Coach Hurley has to use his bench. Oregon State has one player that could start for Sun Devil Basketball. The Sun Devils are nine if not ten players deep, while the Beavers are 3 deep.
Despite a 17-10 record, Coach Wayne Tinkle’s Beavers have struggled to maintain pressure for 40 minutes this season. OSU is not as naturally aggressive as Arizona State, and this is something Coach Hurley needs to exploit.
In Tempe, the Beavers, like other Pac-12 opponents, applied a long 1-3-1 zone defense against the Sun Devils which enabled them to neutralize ASU’s athleticism. This allowed them to fight back and make it a game, ultimately losing by only 3 points. This can’t happen tonight! Coach Hurley needs to embrace zone defenses and force teams out of them.
After the 70-67 ASU win in Tempe, Remy Martin said:
“We got lucky. We have so much to learn from the film on where we let it get away. How to attack a 1-3-1 zone when somebody throws it at us because that eventually slowed us down.”
Romello “The Big Fundamental” White and Zylan “Yes Sir” Cheatham combined for 8-16 from the field and Arizona State’s Big’s had 23 rebounds. But they only got to the free throw line 8 times. Luguentz Dort and Remy Martin were 7-22 from the floor (3-10 from 3) and only had 5 total assists! Zylan Cheatham had one more assist than the Sun Devil Point Guards.
Tonight Arizona State can’t “get lucky” against a Zone! Hurley needs to work the ball into the paint for 40 minutes. It has to be a complete domination down low.
This doesn’t mean in transition Martin doesn’t pull-up from downtown, but we simply have to get high percentage shots in the paint to open up spot-up 3-pointers for Taeshon, Rob and Kimani. Collegiate shooters are night and day more successful when the ball is passed to them when they are already square to the rim.
Next, Luguentz was 0-4 from beyond the arc in the last match-up. Lately, Dort has been far more collected, disciplined, and effective. Look for Dort to have a monster outing within the flow of the game tonight. I see Bobby Hurley taking defensive risks and having Dort run the passing lanes, getting a few steals, and finishing with some monster dunks.
Now, to be cliché Arizona State has to be tenacious on the glass. Oregon State will play a combination of four guards at any given point. With this in mind, Coaches son, Junior Forward Tres Tinkle, must have a monster scoring night for Oregon State to win.
Part of my game plan would be to throw bodies at Tinkle. Coach Hurley should run offensive sets directly at Tres forcing him to play both sides of the ball and to potentially get him into foul trouble. Tinkle can hoop, but he is only one man.
Long Zone Defenses like the 1-3-1 are easy to pick apart, but tonight when Oregon State introduces it, Coach Hurley should direct his troops to pass the ball. Cheatham needs to be the focal point in the Zone. In the last matchup Zylan dished out 6 assists, but in Corvallis tonight Zylan should also look to attack the rim when he receives a good entry pass.
Hurley absolutely needs to get the ball into the low post and do so with a variety of screens and back cuts. I don’t want to see Romello or Zylan have to “post up” without screens and movement which in turn forces the defense to move.
We can’t go through the motions in this one. Tonight needs to be a beat down. This is where we not only get good looks on the block, but guards like Remy, Rob and Lu can slash to the rim for layups and dunks.
Against the Zone, pass first, dribble second. This does not mean Dort and Martin shouldn’t dribble the ball into the middle of the zone or attack the rim. But they should just do so methodically and under control at all times.
Finally when 7’ Center Kylor Kelly and 6’11” 255 lb. Gligorije Rakocevic are down low, Sun Devil Basketball needs to get into transition fast and exploit their athleticism as well as the length of a De’Quon Lake who can out-run both of Oregon’s bigs.
Kimani Lawrence can have a big game on this front, too. When Oregon State goes long, Taeshon Cherry and Rob Edwards should have field days from outside the arc. Taeshon was 4-5 and Edwards was 3-6 from downtown Mill Avenue against the pesky Beavers in January.
The reality is, we are all risk takers and risk avoiders. While the experience of struggling with a risky decision is universal, for Coach Bobby Hurley the process of deciding which risks to take and which to avoid needs to be fundamental, on-time, and dare I say “creative!”
Tonight Bobby needs to get his team fired up to compete for 40 minutes, and in doing so he needs to mix things up and constantly knock Oregon State back on their heels. The risk in not shaking things up tonight could result in a step backward for the Sun Devils. Accepting a bid to the NIT Tournament would be a huge letdown for a team that has proven they can run with anyone in the country.