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Sun Devils Get the Best of Portland State

Sun Devils shoot their way to opening win

NCAA Basketball: California at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Hurley was brought to Arizona State to breathe some life into a barely conscious basketball program. Heading into year two of Hurley’s rebuilding project the Sun Devils are looking to make some strides in the win column.

First up for the Sun Devils were the Big Sky Conference’s Portland State Vikings.

One thing that you notice about Arizona State is their size, or the lack of it. They are going to be a team that needs to shoot well and get easy baskets. Rebounding is going to tough for them with the lack of size up front.

Portland State was a team that had similar size issues to the Sun Devils, so rebounding the basketball would be one of the deciding factors. By the end of the first half, the Sun Devils had a 27-15 rebound advantage. The quicker and physically stronger Sun Devils were pushing the Vikings around in the paint.

When you combine the sizeable rebound advantage with the ability to shoot nearly 50% from the field in the first half gave Arizona State a 44-30 halftime lead.

The adjustment the Vikings had to make was simple. The Vikings had to shoot the ball better. For Arizona State it was simple as well. The Sun Devils had to keep rebounding well and getting the shots they wanted to keep going in.

The second half was not much different for either squad.

Arizona State used their speed from their guards to get to the rim and get easy baskets. The rebounding became even a bigger issue. Arizona State outrebounded Portland State 47-33 in the game.

When you combine that with the Vikings inability to score consistently. You end up with 88-70 win for the Sun Devils.

There are two aspects of the Sun Devils that I will be keeping my eye on. One of those aspects is Bobby Hurley. Hurley is a passionate coach and wants to win like any other coach. However, the constant barking at the officials and even his players is going to wear on people.

On the first or second possession of the game Hurley was all over the officials. I know he wants to change the culture with the basketball program at Arizona State. What concerns me is that constant barking at officials is going to catch up with Hurley at some point. It could cost his team momentum or even the game.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Bobby Hurley. My hope is that Bobby Hurley learns to control his temper or enthusiasm as some people have described it.

Jethro Tshisumpa. Remember this name over the course of the next few years. He is a freshman from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He’s 6’10”, 260lbs, and has an NBA body right now.

Jethro is learning the game as he goes. He hasn’t played a ton of basketball, but Jethro has the tools to become really good. Head coach Bobby Hurley will probably use him for his defensive presence because his offensive game is extremely raw. His coaches have a huge task on their hands to help him with his offensive game, but he is athletic enough to help his offensive game progress in the next few years.

In the end, the Sun Devils got off to a good start with this season opening win over Portland State, but there is still a ton of work to be done to turn the corner. Here’s to hoping Bobby Hurley can get his team around that corner.

Follow Mike on Twitter @pigskinopinion