Well, big game tonight at Arizona State. This game should be an easy win. Arizona State has lost to Portland State, Northern Arizona, and Davidson this year. But nothing can be taken for granted in the Pac-10 this year. ASU was dangerous enough to upset Iowa. In the Pac-10, wins, especially on the road are hard to come by. Blow this one, and it changes the complexion of the whole season. Yes, the Ducks should win this game. But if they go into Tempe and lay an egg, they are royally screwed. The Ducks have more talent. If the Ducks are playing well, ASU cannot compete. But if UO is playing crappy, then ASU has enough talent to knock them off.
As bad as we were last season, we did manage to beat ASU twice. Jeff Pendergraph, who made the all-freshman team and scored 21 points vs. Oregon last year is back. He is a real banger at 6'9" tall. He's averaging about 13 points and ten boards, so Maarty will really have to work hard to shut him down. If Maarty can shut down Roy Hibbert, he should be able to shut down Jeff Pendergraph. Pendergraph is prone to foul trouble, so if we can work the ball into Maarty in the post a bit, we might be able to get rid of him.
Also returning is Antwi Atuahene, the 6'3" junior point guard. He is very streaky, capable of putting in 20 one night, then two or three points the next. That's what happened last year. He had 20 points at The Pit last year, almost nothing in the second game. He is very good at setting up the offense and getting the ball to teammates. However, he is coming off two garbage games at the Washington schools where he put up 17 points and one assist combined. Don't know if that bodes well for the Ducks, or if he is due to break out.
Freshman Christian Polk, a 6'3" shooting guard, is their leading scorer. However, that is somewhat of a misnomer as, like Tajuan Porter, he had some really big games early and struggled late. He, too is coming off a really rough game in Seattle. But when he is on, he can really fill up the bucket, especially from behind the arc.
Rounding out the ASU starting lineup are Setge Angonou and Derek Glasser who are, quite frankly, very average Pac-10 players.
Like I said, Oregon should win this game, as long as they don't overlook the Sun Devils and play like crap.
THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE:
*Arizona State will be willing to run with the Ducks. If Oregon can set the tempo early, ASU will get run out of the building. But it is key that the Ducks don't let ASU control the pace. When ASU has been able to keep opponents under 70 (Iowa, Washington, Cal) they have been very close, or, in the case of Iowa, won. When opponents score 70 or more (Washington State, Xavier, Stanford), they have been routed. And, lets face it, the Ducks should put up more than 70 on this team.
*While the Ducks are running, they need to make sure they get to the rim. Against USC, they tried to fire away from three and lost the game. Against UCLA, they got to the rim and won. Arizona State is not one of the better defensive teams in the conference. Brooks, Porter, Taylor, and Champ should all be able to get to the rim on this team. If we penetrate to set up the outside shot, instead of vice-versa, this game will be a blowout.
*Work the ball into Maarty down low and get Pendergraph out of the game. As I said before, he is prone to foul trouble. No point in letting him hang around.
*Finally, the Ducks need to play the good, solid defense that they have been playing lately. The scary thing about the non-conference schedule was that you can play like crap against Mercer or Idaho State and still win. Not so with a team like ASU. Bring the solid defensive effort, shut them down early, and don't even let them think they have a chance. I want this game over by halftime.
We need this one. With the Pac-10 being the brutal gauntlet it is this year, this is a must win. If the Ducks play defense, control the tempo, and get to the rim, it'll be blowout city.