Rice: Pac-12 Tourney Run Still Doable for Devils

When healthy, ASU has the talent to compete with anyone

Posted on February 15, 2021

Wills Rice
  By Wills Rice of Dash Sports TV for SportsPac12

It is safe to say that an at-large bid for Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State Sun Devils is out of the question.  So what does this Sun Devil squad still have to play for?

Martin

Remy Martin came up clutch-hitting a big three with just over 30 seconds to go in the second half against Oregon State, finishing the contest with a team-high 23 points in the 75-73 win.  Remy also had his fingerprints all over the game plan for the Devils against Oregon, scoring 30 of ASU’s 64 points in the loss.

The Sun Devils were without Freshman stars Marcus Bagley (ankle) and Josh Christopher (leg) for both games.  Christopher exited early in the Oregon game after suffering a very hard fall after a spectacular block, and did not return the rest of the weekend.  

Clearly, battles with injuries and the COVID pandemic have kept ASU—which was projected in preseason to finish in the top third of the Pac-12—from reaching its full potential.

While the results have been frustrating for Devil fans, it’s reasonable to ask: With the at-large March Madness bid gone, do the Sun Devils still have a shot in the Pac-12 tournament? 

The quick answer to that is absolutely

On paper, Hurley’s squad can match up talent-wise with anyone in the conference.  The long answer to the question would be probably not

First off, who is to say this team will be healthy when the first weekend of March rolls around?  Second, what has ASU done on the court to lead us to believe that a team ravaged by covid and injury can just turn it on for 4 days straight?

Lastly, history does not bode well for the Devils as they have yet to win a championship since the tournament came about, and only two teams have successfully won four straight games to claim the title (Colorado in 2012 and Oregon in 2019).

That said, what are some some of the positives this squad can rely on down the stretch?

Remy Martin | thesundevils.com/ASU Athletics

It is pretty clear Remy Martin has returned to form after his missed time due to the passing of his grandfather.  I need to give credit where credit is due as I called out Martin wondering if his head was still in this season after such a tumultuous start. 

If this team has any hopes of making a run in march, it begins and ends with Martin.

Graham

During the first few games of the season, it was clear that the Devils were missing Romello White in quite a big way.  That being said, Jalen Graham has become a huge bright spot for this team both offensively and defensively. 

Graham has really given the team a boost where although he is not the most talented player for ASU, he might be one of the most vital to make the team complete.

Holland Woods is another name we have seen play more and more minutes as the season progresses. He had his standout game dropping 18 points filling in for Martin. 

With 10 points against Oregon State, Woods now has three different games with double-digit points.  When the transfer from Portland State gets going, it seems to open a lot more of the offense for guys around him.

Hurley

Lastly and most important, Bobby Hurley needs to be more consistent down the stretch. He was much better in the last two games against the two Oregon schools. 

Hurley’s team has been shorthanded all season but for the first time all year it seemed like his squad had overcome that.  Although the result of the Oregon game was disappointing, the Sun Devils played a great game coming off yet another COVID delay.  

With this likely being Remy Martin’s last year as a Sun Devil, do not count out one more miraculous run.

You can watch Rice’s Devil Dash Sports Talk Show on Dash Sports TV, and read his other sports stories and columns at Cronkite Sports.




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