As was so well-put by Arizona Republic beat writer Jeff Metcalfe a few days ago (in a story previously linked), the Sun Devils’ need a rally now to put themselves in position for the NCAA Tournament.
ASU’s Dymond Simon – ASU Athletics
This weekend’s series in LA could decide the direction of ASU’s season.
Getting swept by UCLA and USC could put ASU in position to have to win out in the Pac-10 in order to get keep NCAA hopes alive.
The Sun Devils will play five of their next seven games on the road and the home games come against Stanford and Cal. That’s a tough stretch, but the reality is that ASU is in danger of missing the NCAA field in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002-2004.
Arizona State opened the season without many challenges on the schedule. A loss to Tennessee in Knoxville, frankly, was what was supposed to happen.
The upset win over DePaul near the holidays indicated a team heading in the right direction.
The now-cancelled game against Marist might have helped Charli Turner Thorne’s team build more confidence. But it didn’t happen.
So ASU’s performance in the Pac-10 season looks from this view like a step backward. Losing both games in the Bay Area might have been predictable, but losing by 45 points at Stanford and falling short against an inconsistent Cal team didn’t help.
Then there was last week’s home loss to Washington State. The Cougars are playing better basketball and have found some recent momentum, but this is still a team with a 5-15 record and the Sun Devils were wounded by that defeat.
They hung tough to pull out a Saturday victory against Washington, another team with a losing record.
But Arizona State isn’t scoring well. They are ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring offense at 63.3 points a game. They rank ninth in field-goal percentage (.384), 10th in 3-point percentage (.254) and have shot the fewest number of threes in the league at 66.
Senior point guard Dymond Simon is the team’s leading scorer at 13.8 points per game. She’s the only player averaging double-digits.
The Sun Devils bank on defense, but now, because they have trouble scoring, they are indeed on the defensive. Their season depends on their ability to play better than they have to this point – on both ends of the floor.