Quick turnarounds prepare ASU for First Four opponent

Mar 14, 2018, 5:17 PM | Updated: 5:18 pm

The experience Shannon Evans and his Arizona State team had in playing games with quick turnarounds...

The experience Shannon Evans and his Arizona State team had in playing games with quick turnarounds will benefit the Sun Devils as they take on Syracuse in an NCAA Tournament First Four game. (Photo courtesy ASU Athletics)

(Photo courtesy ASU Athletics)

DAYTON, Ohio — A weekend in December could hold the key to success in March for Arizona State.

The Sun Devils will face off with the Syracuse Orange tonight, just over 72 hours after finding out when and where the game would be. The winner will head to Detroit and play TCU in the Round of 64 Friday

One of the biggest challenges of March basketball is being able to combat both time and an opponent, which UCLA found out the hard way Tuesday.

Coach Steve Alford lamented how difficult a turnaround a First Four game can be after the Bruins lost to St. Bonaventure Wednesday.

“You find out 4 o’clock who you’re playing … and sit down in two or three days to prepare and have the excitement of the NCAA Tournament,” Alford said. “You’re on a plane the next morning and playing the next day. … That’s the most difficult part, the team doesn’t get to enjoy the excitement of being in the NCAA Tournament.”

Other than not knowing for whom to prepare, this is not a new experience for the Sun Devils.

Coach Bobby Hurley stressed all year how his philosophy in scheduling games is to prepare his team for postseason play.

“We scheduled hard because we want to prepare our guys for the NCAA Tournament,” Hurley said. “That’s why you go to Kansas and you play Xavier on a neutral, and all these games we played, high-level games. And been in a lot of wars this year, and you hope that pays dividends this time of year.”

Nothing exemplifies that scheduling like Dec. 8 and 10. On Friday, the Sun Devils played St. John’s at Staples Center in Los Angeles, winning 82-70. Immediately, they flew to the middle of the country to play Kansas on Sunday, where they notched their signature win of the season.

At the time, Hurley made the point that those wins would be what it took to advance in March.

Although Hurley said Tuesday that the team hasn’t talked about that weekend this week, senior guard Shannon Evans said he felt it has helped the team in the long run.

“This whole week is going to be good for us taking one game at a time starting (Wednesday), things like that,” Evans said. “So I feel like it really prepared us and I feel like we’re ready for the challenge.”

Cronkite Sports

Cronkite Sports

Sports gambling in Arizona moves closer to reality

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets inside sports venues while the action unfolds.

3 years ago

Higley quarterback Kai Millner committed to Cal this spring, despite visiting the campus just once ...

Cronkite Sports

Arizona high school football recruits still committing amid coronavirus

Despite visiting campuses few times if at all in some cases, class of 2021 high school football prospects from Arizona are committing at record rates.

4 years ago

(Photo via Cronkite News courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)...

Arizona Sports

COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports

The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, schools await a decision by the district chancellor.

4 years ago

New Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez believes outreach in the Arizona Hispanic market is ...

Cronkite Sports

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez looks to reach Latino community

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez is the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history and hopes to reach new fans in the Valley.

4 years ago

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA...

Cronkite Sports

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.

4 years ago

Phoenix Rising FC assistant coaches Peter Ramage (left) and Blair Gavin are awaiting details about ...

Cronkite Sports

Phoenix Rising players await news on resumption of USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC and the USL Championship are set to resume play July 11 while players wait on more details for the return.

4 years ago

Quick turnarounds prepare ASU for First Four opponent