Men’s basketball faces stiff Ducks defense

Chris Colvin splits two defenders for a layup against Nevada Dec. 7. Colvin and the Sun Devils look to repeat last season’s sweep of Oregon. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

When the ASU men’s basketball team takes the floor at home for the first time against Oregon on Thursday, the offense will look different than it did on Dec. 21 against Fresno State.

The Sun Devils (5–10, 1–2 Pac-12) have slowly moved away from the motion offense they used to start the season to a flex offense. The flex is slower, more structured and involves plenty of ball screens, unlike the team’s previous motion that was more up-tempo and allowed more freedom on the court.

“We’re running more sets, and that’s to help our guys with some of their decision-making and to account for some of the adjustments we’ve had to make at point guard,” said coach Herb Sendek.

ASU will have junior guard Chris Colvin available Thursday, but Sendek said junior wing Trent Lockett will likely play most of his minutes at point guard, moving forward from the dismissal of sophomore guard Keala King. Lockett said he feels comfortable with the changes made in the offense.

“I think (Sendek) does a good job of seeing what he has to work with and molding either offense or defense around the type of players he has,” Lockett said.

ASU has several main sets in the flex offense and can use different counters based on the defense of the opposing team.

It just so happens that the Ducks (11–5, 2–2 Pac-12) use just about every defensive scheme imaginable.

Oregon runs multiple defenses throughout a game, ranging from different presses and traps to mixing man and zone in the half court.

ASU faced teams with a similar approach in nonconference play, but aside from a few zone possessions against UCLA, the team has generally seen man-to-man defenses during Pac-12 play.

“It’s going to force our team to handle a different kind of pressure and it’s also going require us to have recognition,” Sendek said.

Even with the return of Colvin and sophomore forward Kyle Cain to practice this week, the Sun Devils are still few in numbers. Junior wing Carrick Felix and freshman walk-on guard Pierre Newton have been sick, making it difficult to simulate what the Ducks do.

“It really puts a lot of heavy lifting on the mental (aspect) through film work and what we can show them on the court,” Sendek said. “I don’t know if we can reinvent what Oregon does with a scout team right now, given our numbers and our situation.”

Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu

 

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