Turnovers consistently killing Sun Devils
If you ask any college or pro basketball coach what they
preach to their teams repeatedly in practice or right
before a game, invariably “taking care of the basketball”
will show up near the top of the list.
Some teams take those teachings to heart and really play
conservative basketball, treating each possession with
tender love and care.
Others want to take those teachings to heart, but don’t
have the personnel to do so.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present your 2011-12 Arizona State
ASU lost their Pac-12 home opener to Oregon 67-58 on
Thursday night in a game that once again advertised ASU’s
biggest weakness — their inability to protect the
basketball because of the lack of a true point guard.
There are two point guards on the roster, but neither one
get to play too much this season, even though de facto
point guard Keala King was dismissed from the squad.
Max Heller is a 5-foot-9, 150-pound walk-on freshman from
San Diego who is fundamentally sound, but throwing him to
the wolves in major college basketball at this point isn’t
prudent, nor does it give the Sun Devils a better chance
The other is Chris Colvin, a transfer from Iowa State
who’s been suspended twice this season, so the ice he’s
skating on is about as thin as it gets.
Consider this scenario from Thursday’s game, which
With 12:36 left in the first half head coach Herb Sendek
summoned point guard Chris Colvin from his bench to
replace Trent Lockett.
Colvin ripped off his sweats and checked into the game.
Fourteen seconds later, Colvin got lost on defense and
allowed Oregon’s Devoe Joseph to hit a three-pointer that
put Oregon up by 9 points.
Eleven seconds after that, Colvin committed a turnover,
and three seconds after that, he was yanked from the game
by a frustrated Sendek.
That :28 of time was a microcosm of ASU’s maddening
The biggest problem and most recurring theme is turnovers.
Yes, ASU is playing without a point guard, but they’re
also just not a good passing team. Seemingly easy
perimeter passes are picked off by opposing defenses with
ease, often leading to baskets.
Arizona State has played 16 games this season. In
14 of them, they’ve had a negative assist-to-
turnover ratio. Last year’s team, which finished in last
place in the conference, accomplished that dubious feat
only nine times.
Only two players on the entire roster have a positive
ratio: Jonathan Gilling (27 to 11) and Heller (6 to 3).
ASU ranks 295th out of 338 teams in the country in assist-
to-turnover ratio. Their failure in taking care of the
ball is killing them because they’re actually not a bad
shooting team, ranking 4th in the Pac-12 with a percentage
It makes you long for the days of Derek Glasser and
Jamelle McMillan, two steady true point guards who
excelled at taking care of the ball and setting up
teammates for baskets.
You can’t score if you don’t shoot. And you can’t shoot
if you turn the ball over.
Unfortunately, with this current roster, it’s a theme that
just won’t go away for the Sun Devils.