Washington State (12-4, 2-2) ran into a well-coached, aggressive Arizona State team early Sunday afternoon. The Sun Devils (12-5, 2-2) frustrated and dominated WSU by a final score of 71-46.
Coach Ken Bone had trouble getting his team moving before and during the second game on the Arizona road trip.
A handful of Cougar players were late for both the team bus and morning meeting. Coach Bone was left with no choice but to shuffle his starting lineup and rotation off the bench because of the player tardiness.
Before jumping to a conclusion the personnel changes by Coach Bone were the reason for the loss, pause and catch your breath.
As poorly as the Sun Devils played in Los Angeles last week, they were conversely outstanding back on the hardwood of Wells Fargo Arena on campus in Tempe, AZ.
What a difference a week made for Coach Herb Sendek's team.
First, the Sun Devils dismantled the UW then completely shut down Washington State. Both Northwest teams have been putting large points on the scoreboard this season. Yet against the smothering defense and slow down offense of ASU, both teams were shut down and handed a loss.
After being lulled by a 7-1 run by Washington State to open the game, Coach Sendek called timeout at the 16:35 mark, reminding his squad they were supposed to be playing a game Sunday afternoon. That's all it took. The Sun Devils responded to their coach and went on a 16-0 run to take control of things.
The Cougs had their chances. Oh, did they have their chances...The memory fails to register a game where WSU missed so many layups. Thankfully the few Sun Devil fans on hand didn't send up a Bronx cheer on the rare occasion the Cougs were able to make a bucket going to the rim.
How bad was it?
Washington State finished the game without one single player reaching double-digits in scoring and marked a season-low standard with just 46 points. Their previous low was 65 points against Oregon State in a game just last week.
"You’ve got to be able to convert shots, especially when they’re easy baskets because it’s not easy to score against (Arizona State). They play a very unique defense. When you do get that opportunity for just literally a layup, with no one contending it, you’ve got to be able to convert." - WSU Coach Ken Bone
So are opponents figuring out how to shut down Klay Thompson and the up-tempo offense of Coach Bone? Not really. The Pac-10 has been a defensive-oriented conference for the past few years. The only surprise in seeing WSU score just 46 points is the overall play of the team. At no time was there a combination of players on the floor for Washington State who looked, or even resembled, a team.
Arizona State was such a cohesive group, it's hard to point out one player making the difference for the Sun Devils in victory. Any time a player achieves a double-double in conference play, it deserves mention. Ty Abbott scored 17 points and grabbed 11 boards. He also, dished out four assists to his teammates.
One indicator of team play is the assist to shots made ratio. The Sun Devils converted 30 shots off 22 assists. If you look up "team play" in the dictionary, those stats would define the term.
After the game, Coach Bone suggested the need to discipline a few of his players who more or less threw his game plan out the window. That may have been one of the few tosses that worked Sunday afternoon.
When all is said and done, the Cougs accomplished a split of the two road games this week. There were many, many lessons learned by the young WSU players.
"For the most part, we will move on. It was a poor game. We didn’t do many good things…we’ll move on and start focusing on our next couple of games." - Coach Ken Bone
The next couple of games for Washington State will be with the Northern California schools, Cal and Stanford. It doesn't get any easier, but the Cougs should benefit from the support of their Zzu Crew fans filling the stands in Beasley Coliseum.
Charlie Enquist replaced DeAngelo Casto to begin the game. It was his first career start for Washington State.
Two freshmen, Steven Bjornstad and John Allen , saw their first Pac-10 action against ASU.
A season-high 11 players saw action for Coach Ken Bone and the Cougs against ASU. Every one of the 13 players who made the trip saw playing time.
Originally published in Lew Wright's WSU Sports Column on Examiner.com