Basketball: Arizona State scouting report

A reunion of sorts tonight for seniors Jamal Boykin of Cal and Eric Boateng of Arizona State.

The two began their college careers at Duke, both transferring out as sophomores. Now they’ll bang one another in the low post when the Bears (13-6, 5-2) face the Sun Devils (14-6, 4-3) at Wells Fargo Arena.

“We were roommates. I consider him like a brother,” Boykin said this week. “You start out with someone in college, go through the same things, we have a special bond.”

Both played in these matchups a year ago, but power forward Boykin never guarded Boateng, or vice versa. Harper Kamp (injured) or Jordan Wilkes (departed) had the assignment for Cal against Boateng, a true center.

“It should be fun,” Boykin said.

Boateng made the call to exit first, and Boykin said he figured that opened the door a bit more for his future. He was going to redshirt that season, anyway, because he missed time with mononucleosis. Ultimately, he followed Boateng out the door.

“It was just a realization of where you stood in the program and  understandng the role we had envisioned going into Duke wouldn’t be the role that would be carried out over those four years,” Boykin said. 

Three years later, Boykin has no hard feelings. He said he enjoyed his time at Duke, and still follows them on TV. Actually, he can hardly get away from them.

“They’re on TV more than a lot of NBA teams. In our locker room, ESPN is on all the time, so you can’t help but see them,” he said. “I think they’re a great basketball team to watch.”

Boykin said the Bears, who play their next four games on the road, are entering a key stretch in their season.

“It’s very huge,” he said. “If we can come out on top of these four games, we’ll definitely be looking at the Pac-10 championship, which has been our goal for the past two years.”

ASU SCOUT: The Bears face another zone defense, but the Sun Devils’ version is a bit different than Syracuse, Ohio State, UCLA or Oregon State. “Probably the easiest way to decribe it, is it’s a switching man to man,” Cal coach Mike Montgomery said. So a ballhandler will get past his man, only to be met by a second defender. The trick, said Cal senior Theo Robertson, is understanding when you’re open and when you’re not. “You have to be real aware of what they’re trying to do. They disguise a lot of things,” he said. Until their 77-58 home loss to rival Arizona on Saturday, the Sun Devils had allowed just one of 10 previous opponents to reach 60 points.

The balanced offense is led by senior PG Derek Glasser, who will needs just six assists to reach 500 for his career. “Glasser turned out to be a really nice player, and I don’t think you would have known that,” Montgomery said. “I think a lot of them deferred (last year) to (James) Harden.”  Harden (20.1 ppg) left after his sophomore season for the NBA and forward Jeff Pendergraph (14.5 ppg) graduated. ASU also features junior SF Rihards Kuksiks, who leads the team at 13.0 ppg and has made 55 3-pointers. Junior guard Ty Abbott totaled 55 points in two games against the Bears in 2007-08, shooting 15-for-29 from the 3-PT line.

SUCCESS NO SURPRISE TO ASU: Despite losing Harden and Pendergraph, Glasser said the Sun Devils had no doubts they could be a strong team.

“We definitely expected to be in the hunt for the Pac-10 championship. Our goal was to win the Pac-10,” the senior point guard said. “We definitely felt in our locker room we had enough talent with the guys coming back, that we were plenty good enough to win it.

“Defensively, we knew we were going to be as good as last year. Offensively, guys who were role players last year were going to have their chance to flourish.”

ZONING OUT: The Bears averaged 73.5 points in two games last season against ASU, so maybe they have a better handle on attacking the Sun Devils’ zone defense. But Cal has struggled against zones this season, going 1-3 in games against Syracuse, Ohio State, UCLA and Oregon State. They are averaging 70.8 points in those four games, compared to 81.3 in their other 15 games. They shot just 42.4 percent in those games, 49.2 percent the rest of the time. The biggest discrepancy is from the 3-point arc, where Cal converted just 27.8 percent against those four opponents, but has made 39.4 percent otherwise.

INJURY REPORT: Cal junior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison (back) did not travel with the team Wednesday and will not play tonight. But he is expected to join the team on Friday, and could play Sunday at Arizona. ASU junior guard Jamelle McMillan (plantar fasciitis in his left foot) is doubtful to play.

THE SERIES: The teams split two meetings a year ago, Cal winning 81-71 in Berkeley,  ASU prevailing 83-66 at Tempe. Jerome Randle totaled 50 points in the two games, while ASU’s James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph — now both departed from the program — combined for 89 points over the two games. ASU leads the all-time series 35-32.

MISCELLANY: The senior threesome of Jerome Randle (1,540 points), Patrick Christopher (1,463) and Theo Robertson (1,089) have totaled 4,092 career points, leaving them just 33 points shy of the total accumulated by 1987 grads Kevin Johnson (1,655), Dave Butler (1,291) and Chris Washington (1,179) . . . Randle and Christopher rank 8th and 9th on Cal’s all-time list. Next up is Brian Hendrick (1990-93), who scored 1,556 points . . . Robertson has climbed to No. 28 on the same list and is 23 points behind Andy Wolfe (1946-48), once Cal’s career scoring king with 1,112 points . . . Randle ranks first in the Pac-10 in FT accuracy (93.2 percent) and ASU point guard Derek Glasser is second (90.5) . . . Cal leads the Pac-10 in scoring offense at 79.1 ppg and ASU is second in scoring defense at 55.8 ppg allowed.

TIPOFF: 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Wells Fargo Arena, Tempe, Ariz.
RADIO: 1550-AM


CAL (13-6, 5-2)
Starters                                 Ht   Yr   Pts   Rebs

SF Theo Robertson                    6-6   Sr.  14.3  4.5
PF Jamal Boykin                        6-8  Sr.  11.1  6.3
PF  Omondi Amoke                    6-7  So.   5.6  5.6
SG Patrick Christopher             6-5  Sr.   16.3  5.5
PG Jerome Randle                  5-10  Sr.   18.7  4.7*

Key reserves
G Jorge Gutierrez                    6-3  So.   5.4  3.0
C Markhuri Sanders-Frison       6-7  Jr.   3.4  3.6
C  Max Zhang                         7-2  So.  3.9  2.9

Arizona State (14-6, 4-3)
Starters                             Ht   Yr   Pts   Rebs

SF  Rihards Kuksiks             6-6   Jr.   13.0   3.4
C Eric Boateng                   6-10   Sr.   7.4   6.3
SG Trent Lockett                  6-5   Fr.   7.4   3.5
SG Ty Abbott                       6-3   Jr.  10.1   3.6
PG  Derek Glasser               6-1   Sr.  10.4   5.1*

Key reserves
G Jamelle McMillan               6-2  Jr.   7.9   3.6
G Demetrius Walker            6-4  Fr.    4.5   1.3
G Jerren Shipp                    6-3  Sr.   3.6   1.9
* – Assists

Jeff Faraudo

  • SteveNTexas

    This is a key game for us. Are we really the best in the sorry Pac 10 this year or are there a bunch of mediocre teams in the hunt for the one NCAA bid? We lost our ranking early in the season and although a win tonight will not return it, it will help towards the post-season.

    If we win we deserve kudos for beating one of our tougher Pac 10 opponents on their home floor, if we lose we are just another mediocre Pac 10 team who will be worse next season.

  • rollonubears

    i think we’re going to be a lot better next season, especially if we get a big man. max will be better. kamp will be back. jorge is a leader, anyway, amoke and seeley will be solid. msf may get better. and we have 4 4-star recruits coming in as well. the rest of the pac will be better next year, too, but i think we’ll be a pretty exciting team to watch. an almost 100% monty-made team.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    In two years we MAY be better. Losing 4 senior starters rarely results in improvement, though it is possible if Franklin has a Kidd-like impact.

    Just like the game @ UW, this would be a huge win, but losing is not the end of the world. A split in the state is important, but even losing two would not hurt our chances at claiming the Pac 10 regular season title. I really want a win tonight, though, just because we really lack that nice road win.

  • KoreAmBear

    “but even losing two would not hurt our chances at claiming the Pac 10 regular season title”

    How do you figure? You mean losing two would not bury us in our title hunt but it would definitely hurt it. Esp. since we have two more road games right next week too. Because we have had 5 home games and 2 road games, we’ve essentially held serve. We really need to go 3-1 these next four. I would be disappointed but not too upset with 2-2. 1-3 or worse — well, we’re looking at either squeaking out a PX title somehow by going on a run or having to win the PXT. We’ve got to show up big time these next 4. No more excuses (injuries, flu, etc.) — let’s just do it.

  • LR

    We won’t have an athletic big man next year, nor will we have a back court to speak of. Hanginng your hopes on a back court combination of Seeley, Jorge and Smith (plus freshmen who are an unqualified mystery) is scary — one defender and ZERO who can “score the ball” as all the BB insiders like to say these days. As for Kamp, we can only hope he comes back 80% from his chronic injuries. 3s and 4s = Amoke and Kamp unless you’re running a gimmick/small line-up with those two platooning in the middle. It would be nice to have a bit more range from those two; Kamp has a fairly reliable jumper, but Amoke has nothing unless he can create around the rim. If I had to guess, I’d have to say 12 to 13 wins is very optimistic. Unfortunately, I don’t think Monty and Jay John have the allure or the desire to recruit the elite, immediate-impact type guys who are needed to dig us out quickly. They’re plodders. Guys who can turn Andrew Vlahov and Andy Poppinck types into serviceable Pac10 players, but they lack the polish to pull the big time guys. I admit Braun left them a huge image hole to dig out of, but I think part of it is on them.

  • The Wisdom Cow

    Sorry, Kore, meant “kill” not “hurt”. You are correct. I should have added that my position was due to the relative play of the rest of the league.

    LR, MSF and Max will be back next year. Not sure what your definition of “athletic big man” is, but one of them should qualify. MSF is strong and Max is quick with hieght. The loss of Boykin is huge, but not insurmountable. It is the guard play depth relying on freshman that will hold us back the most, but I wouldn’t predict a poor season already. It isn’t like the rest of the Pac 10 is going to become great in one year.

  • LR

    Max and MSF are the very definition of “un-athletic”. Max is anything but quick. His movements are very deliberate, and his coordination is poor to say the least. Lateral movement is a particular concern. He’s obviously put on some weight and added lower body strength, but he needs to improve his upper body. A man that tall shouldn’t have boards pulled away from him with such ease.

    MSF is slow in part due to poor conditioning. He’s obviously overweight and needs to lose some pounds so he can get quicker and imporve his jumping ability. His judgment and the way he uses his hands are other issues but beyond the scope of this thread.

    We have no other options unless Solomon is a revelation (and I hope he is but am realistic in light of his need to develop physically) and Kamp’s pituitary gland can be manipulated to get him up to 6’9″….

  • The Wisdom Cow

    I see Max and MSF much differently than you, LR. Unless you define “athletic big man” as Powe, I think you are selling them short. To be clear, I define Powe as “dominant”, a few notches above “athletic”.

    Max is pretty quick on the boards. Yes, lateral quickness is below average, but his hieght makes up for it (opponents still have to alter their shots much moreso than against the average defender, including Boykin). I admit I am assuming he continues to improve, though not the same jump he made from last year to this. His strength should increase and his understanding of positioning should improve with playing time (I am hopeful he goes to the big man camp, I think they still hold it, correct?).

    MSF doesn’t seem overweight, IMO. He may be pushing it some, but I’d call him heavy, not overwieght. I think he got hit hard by the flu which really put him in a whole. I am not at all suprised a guy of his size trying to come back from significant illness/layoff developed back problems. It would be easy to do if he pushed his rehab from illness too hard. He is very strong, I love how he gets separation on offense for his shot, and I see his defense improving in terms of positioning. It is hard for me to put a near 2 week bout with the flu to the side and blame poor conditioning. I could certainly be wrong.

    We will still be thin up front depth-wise which baffles me given Monty’s record with big men (I would think they would be lining up to play for him). Yet, I don’t think the cubbard is bare. Amoke is very fluid and still young, gaining great experience this season.

    Don’t get me wrong. This is the year to win the Pac 10, not next, but I am not giving up on a tourney bid next season already.

  • Dan

    I want to throw in compliment to the classy manner that debate is going on here. Very unlike the football comments, where alot of name calling and attacks go on if you dare to criticize Tedford or have a negative or pessimistic outlook for the FB program.

    Wisdom Cow – Great to read your comments and see your class overhere. I’m used to seeing you over at Wilner’s blog.