Look, you know my stance on this institution. My intro will therefore take a very matter-o-fact tone. Only later will I decide whether or not to let you fill in the blanks or if I color it for you.
Herb’s contract was extended on the heels of beating Arizona and a return to the NCAA tournament. Herb achieved the tourney invite by playing the fastest brand of basketball he’s ever coached. Not coincidentally, last year’s team was also the best defensive team (by national ranking of AdjD) Herb’s had in Tempe. Their offense was the second most productive (109 ORtg) he’s built in Wells Fargo. That tempo was motored by Jahii Carson. That defense was anchored by dPOY, Jordan Bacnynski. That offense was stabilized by Jermaine Marshall and the vaunted Jahishall (a three pointer assisted by Jahii – and while I can’t tell you exactly how many Jahishalls were made, 57% of Marshall’s shots were threes, 92% of those that he made were assisted, 62% of Jahii’s assists resulted in a three – that’s a lot of Jahishalls). Those three are gone. What remains? The Guilty Remnant Cult.
Why I Love Them:
This section is a part of the previews template. I can’t break templatization. So with that in mind, and thus needing to love something, I love the names of their incoming JuCo class: Savon Goodman, Roosevelt Scott, and Gerry Blakes. That’s some powerful name game. The question, naturally, becomes what kind of basketball game they’ll bring to Herb’s basketball situation. I don’t think he has the parts to be as up-tempo as he might want. When he didn’t have a point guard in 2012 – when Jahii was an unqualified freshman on the bench – the Devils did this: 98.9 ORtg (212th), 25.7% TO rate (312th), 11.7% steal rate of their possessions (327th), 10 wins (just a really bad total). Two years prior (2010) Derek Glasser (uck) steered a 22-win squad. So sure there’s some veteran pieces in Shaq McKissic (who received a sixth year of eligibility and so if we can’t call him a veteran then I don’t know what else we can call him), J. Gilling Y’All, Eric Jacobsen, and Bo Barnes (who transferred in then threatened to transfer out but then didn’t and traveled to China with the Pac-12 All-Stars and is now maybe even a projected starter after once being a walk on) but does it really matter if there’s no one to run the point? Maybe it’s Gerry’s World? Tra Holder is the darling of the incoming freshmen; but does anyone really love a freshman point guard? The other freshman darling is Connor MacDougal. But how much do you really expect a 6’8” freshman center to contribute? There might be more to this roster than you think, but it’s all brand new (just 41% of last year’s minutes return and thus the Guilty Remnant Cult) and they could just be another turnover (roster and basketball possession pun intended) waiting to happen.
Why I Hate Them:
The Stat You Must Know:
Defensive rating last year. I know we’ve already noted this but last year was the highest ranking defense ASU has had since Herb took over in Tempe. I’m not sure whether or not to be surprised considering this:
But they did garner that NCAA invitation because of defensive improvements. And so, after losing the conference’s defensive player of the year, these Devils project to be worse on defense. Just maybe not Harden-esque.
Top-5 ASU Moments:
- Obama’s Honorary Degree
- Intentionally not winning
- One of Top 100 Universities
- This is just a really funny Starbucks video
Mountain High (best possible season):
Between all of that wing/forward/guardish/hybrid talent, the Sun Devils manage to be disruptive enough defensively. They’re not an NCAA tournament team but they’re veteran-ish enough to not hurt themselves. Between Holder and Gerry’s World, the point guard situation is adequately filled. Jonathan Gilling is the conference’s Ryan Appleby but retires the thing he did in the NCAAs where he did the finger mustache after a made three because – well – because it’s the stupidest thing since wearing a Britney Spears headset to coach football. The Holdling (Tra Holder to J. Gilling Y’all for three) becomes a thing. Shaq McKissic is an All-Conference defender, if not performer. They finish mid-Pac and flirt with an NIT bid.
Rock Bottom (worst possible season):
Recall those 2012 numbers? With the bad offense and the turnovers and stuff? Something like that happens. Gilling doesn’t get the same sort of looks with out Jahii and/or Bachynski opening the floor for him and while the JuCos are athletic additions, they don’t scare anyone with size or shooting. J. Gilling Y’All gets nothing. ASU gets nothing. They have something of a really bad season. And Herb gets extended again.