Arizona State Sun Devils: (3-1)
Arizona State didn't come out of the gates strongly in 2015. The Sun Devils took a deflating loss to Sacramento State on their home floor by three points in their season opener. It marked the first time in five years that ASU lost their first game of the season, and the first time since November 13, 2006 that they lost their home opener.
But ASU has rebounded strongly in their last three home contests. They picked up wins over OVC powerhouse Belmont and Kennesaw State. Then, on Monday night, the Sun Devils defeated the North Carolina State Wolfpack in their first matchup in the 2015 Legends Classic in Brooklyn, New York. ASU won the game 79-76 over NCSU, led by the terrific all-around efforts from Savon Goodman who scored 21 points and hauled in 16 rebounds.
Bobby Hurley began his third season as a head coach this year for the Arizona State Sun Devils. It's his second stop in the coaching ranks, having been at Buffalo the past two seasons. Hurley helped lead the Bulls to a 42-20 record in two years with a trip to the NCAA Tournament a year ago, the first in program history.
The Names to Know
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Arizona State is the third stop for Savon Goodman in his college career. In 2012, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native started his time in college at UNLV. As a freshman, he was used often, compiling a usage rate of 24.3 percent, and put up solid numbers for a freshman and showed that he had an ability to grab rebounds, picking up an OR% and DR% of 12.5 and 15.7 percent respectively.
But his time in Las Vegas lasted merely a season. Goodman, who averaged 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game as a Runnin' Rebel, transferred to Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. He didn't play during the 2013-14 season, and decided to transfer to Tempe in April 2014.
And since arriving in Tempe, Goodman has been dynamic. He's been excellent inside on 2-point attempts, shooting 57.8 percent on 199 2-point field goal attempts a year ago. He displayed that rebounding ability that he flashed in Las Vegas too, pulling down offensive and defensive rebounds at rates of 12.2 and 23.8 percent.
Goodman's gotten off to a good start in his junior season. His rebounding rates have leapt up to 18.1 and 29.1 percent, his usage rate has never been higher, as it stands at 28 percent through the first four games. And, moreover, he's shot 20-for-31 on 2-point field goal attempts, a staggering 64.5 percent.
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Inglewood, California's Gerry Blakes is a senior guard who, like Goodman, was not initially at Arizona State when his college career began. Instead, Blakes' career began at San Bernardino Valley College, a junior college in southern California whose coach is former Arizona State Sun Devil Quincy Brewer. Blakes was the JUCO Co-Player of the Year in California during his time, and scored 1,052 points and 200 assists in his two seasons at San Bernardino Valley College according to his Arizona State profile.
Blakes posted a very high usage rate in his first year at Arizona State - 26.6 percent - and did especially well at the free throw line, posting an average of 82.2 percent. This season, he's off to a rip roaring start, scoring 14 points and grabbing 6.8 rebounds per game. He, like Goodman, will be someone that the Golden Eagles will have to watch for in Brooklyn.
The Style of Play
Don't Expect Perimeter Shooting: The Sun Devils have one of the lowest 3-point field goal rates in the country. Through the first four games of the year, only 33.3 percent of Arizona State's field goal attempts have been 3-pointers, which ranks 221st in the nation. The Division 1 average is currently at 35.6 percent, so they are not a team that will rely on the 3-point shot.
But Expect a Battle on the Boards: Arizona State has picked up rebounds at a very high rate in the early goings of this season. They've picked up an OR% and DR%, collectively, at 38.8 percent and have only allowed teams to pick the rate up at 24.1 percent. Those rank 44th and 50th respectively in the nation, with the D1 average of 30.5 percent. Marquette will have to tussle with the Sun Devils down low, because they'll be challenged all night.
One Weakness Worth Noting...
Lack of Care for the Basketball: The Sun Devils have committed turnovers at an especially high rate so far. In the first four games, their Turnover% is at a high 19.4 percent. With the Division 1 average at 18.5 percent thus far, the Sun Devils are committing turnovers almost an entire percent higher than the Division 1 average. That ranks 221st in the country. If Marquette can solve their own problems with taking care of the basketball, perhaps they could capitalize on disadvantages that Arizona State will have along with them.