I’m a big proponent of keeping local talent local around and so when Herb Sendek secured a commitment from Jahii Carson – and then much later received his NCAA clearance – it was a big. Huge for a program that went 12-19 the year before Carson enrolled and 10-21 the year he rode the pine. Once he saw the court, the Sun Devils were a bubble team right up until Vegas and finished 22-13. Need further proof that the kid’s a program changer? Carrick Felix’s ORtg without Jahii: 95.1. With Jahii? 110.4 and Felix was drafted by an National Basketball Association team. Maybe you’ve heard of that league. Jahii Carson changes lives.
Why I love them: Carson is the obvious reason to think highly of the Devils. He’s fully deserving of any print or voice he’s getting as an All-American. And have you been following any of these NCAA rules changes? Of course not. I did for whatever reason, however, and now allow me to synopsize with a quote from Bobby D (Pac-12 Coordinator of Officials):
“We are probably going to see more whistles than we have in the past.”
Well shit. And he quoted this in regards to hand checking rules and do you know who often draws the most hand checks? Riquickulous water bugs who blow by their defenders and already get to the line at a 42.4% clip. Expect the fastest guard in the conference, if not nation, to benefit from these rules changes. Of course Jahii is only 5’10″ so he’s not always going to get a shot off. He’s gotta find someone to dish to, right? Enter Penn State graduate transfer, Jermaine Marshall. The numbers suggest that Marshall is a jump shooter – he took just 15% of his shots last year at the rim. Then, on all those shots he’s taking of the jumping variety, a high percentage of those are being assisted. Translation: Jermaine moves off the ball, gets open, hits shot. The off ball focus (also addressed by Bobby D) should behoove such a player as he runs around screens unimpeded by superfluous bumps and grabs. Between Jordan Bachynski on the block and Carson, Marshall should see plenty of open looks from the perimeter; a shot he’s proven he can make.
Why I hate them: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH
Ok, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m really not certain these Sun Devils are going to be able to defend at the level they need to. Carrick Felix was a huge defensive asset, capable of guarding up and down a lineup. In his stead, Jonathan Giling’s role grows and so too will his defensive assignments. Last year was Herb Sendek’s 4th worst defense – 97.4 AdjD – in his coaching career; Herb’s only real comments about defense – the cornerstone of his coaching resume – is that the new rule changes “could really have almost a revolutionary effect on the game.” Now I pulled that quote out of media day when Hyperbole Herb saw everything on the most macro level imaginable. But when I hear a man vaunted for his man-to-man defensive genius call certain rule changes “revolutionary,” I hear a man about to focus on speeding up his offense.
Stat you should know:
That’s the number of shots that Jordan Bachynski needs to block this season to become the Pac-12′s all-time leading shot blocker. He’s blocked 181 to this point – good for 11th in conference history. Last season the big Canadian dismissed 120 would be buckets. A repeat performance and he stands alone as the Prime Minister of Prevention.
“But we went through a period of time when we had more NBA draft picks than any conference in the country. We were spitting out lottery picks like nickels … our talent level is as good as it has been in a long time.” – Hyperbole Herb on the health of Pac-12 hoops
Outlook: I think the Devils have some really nice pieces and a relatively balanced roster. They’ll introduce to us a pretty good fill-in for Carrick Felix when MSU transfer Brandan Kearney becomes available during the second semester. And with one of the nation’s best players, you really can’t count the Devils too far out of things. Hell, Matt Norlander picked them to finish third. I’m not that high on them but Herb has pieced together a pretty decent little ball club. This year it’s been noted that he’s sitting on a pretty warm seat for past performances (see: 2010-12) and we haven’t seen the Devil dance since James Harden donned the maroon and piss gold. Are they going to be good enough to dance? JAHII WILL DANCE IN HIS FINAL COLLEGE SEASON (I’m going to regret that later). For the first time in a long time, the Sun Devils are playing a non-conference slate that’s a touch better than cupcake (@UNLV, Marquette, Creighton) and, because, Jahii.