The Solar Devils will tip off Nov. 25 in opposition to the Rams as individuals within the Empire Basic
No. 18 ASU males’s basketball will start its season on Nov. 25 versus the Rhode Island Rams as a part of the Empire Basic, which is able to happen on the Mohegan Solar Area in Connecticut.
The sphere may also embody No. three Villanova and Boston School, who will play one another following the Solar Devils’ season opener on Wednesday.
ASU initially deliberate to open its season in the identical event in opposition to No. 2 Baylor as an alternative of Rhode Island. Nonetheless, after Baylor coach Scott Drew introduced he had examined constructive for COVID-19 and wouldn’t journey with the workforce, ASU withdrew from that matchup Sunday.
The Solar Devils nonetheless deliberate to journey to Connecticut to seek out one other opponent upon arrival, as Mohegan Solar is about to host various occasions concurrently. Then, Baylor withdrew from the occasion Monday, prompting Rhode Island to exchange the Bears and permitting ASU to rejoin the sphere.
In recent times, the Rams have been one of many Atlantic 10’s most constant groups, reaching the NCAA event twice previously 4 seasons.
In final yr’s 21-win marketing campaign, they utilized a formulation just like ASU’s, enjoying an up-tempo type, posting a excessive turnover margin and relying totally on their perimeter gamers for scoring.
Nonetheless, that roster has been decimated by transfers and graduations, leaving the Rams with out three of their high 4 scorers from final season, two of whom obtained all-conference honors, and 5 of their high seven leaders in minutes performed.
That exodus means Rhode Island, ranked sixth within the Atlantic 10’s preseason ballot, will return 38% of its complete factors scored from final season, over two-thirds of which come from one man: all-conference senior guard Fatts Russell.
Standing at 5 ft 10 inches, Russell used his mix of quickness, creativity across the rim and a a lot improved exterior shot to common 18.eight factors per sport final season, the very best mark of any Ram in almost 20 years.
If Rhode Island is to win, Russell will doubtless should do the brunt of the work to outpace ASU’s perimeter assault, led by senior guards Remy Martin and Alonzo Verge Jr. and freshmen Josh Christopher and Marcus Bagley.
Exterior of his scoring, Russell can also be the Rams’ main facilitator and a feisty defender, having averaged 2.9 steals per sport final season and incomes Atlantic 10 All-Protection honors.
Though, as a profession 36% shooter, effectivity has by no means been Russell’s power. His capability to supply as a quantity scorer will probably be important for a workforce with a largely unproven supporting solid round him.
The Rams’ subsequent most skilled returner is junior ahead Jermaine Harris, a two-year starter. Nonetheless, Harris was removed from essential to the workforce’s success final season, enjoying lower than 18 minutes per sport and averaging 5.three factors.
Contemplating the dynamics of its roster, it’s doubtless that a lot of Rhode Island’s manufacturing will come from transfers, particularly redshirt sophomore guard Jalen Carey and sophomore middle Makhi Mitchell, former four-star recruits who beforehand performed for Syracuse and Maryland, respectively.
Carey performed simply two video games for the Orange final season earlier than a thumb damage prompted him to medically redshirt. Nonetheless, he earned constant rotation minutes as a freshman and, in a single sport, dropped 26 factors, flashing the high-end scoring capability that made him such a highly-touted recruit.
Mitchell performed in simply 12 video games for Maryland final yr, beginning 5, earlier than deciding to switch to Rhode Island, alongside along with his twin brother Makhel.
Regardless of his lack of manufacturing as a freshman, Makhi demonstrated various translatable instruments in highschool, together with strong ball-handling and taking pictures to enhance his athletic body. He additionally fills a evident place of want following the Rams’ lack of all-conference large man Cyril Langevine, because the Mitchell brothers are the workforce’s solely gamers over 6 ft eight inches.
Junior guard Malik Martin, a switch from the College of Charlotte who earned Convention USA all-defense honors and shot almost 38% from deep final season, may also doubtless have a task.
Contemplating the Rams’ roster overhaul, the Solar Devils could have restricted time to organize for a workforce that may look dramatically completely different than final season, however Bagley mentioned weeks in the past that their focus was not on any particular opponent.
“We have been targeted on our sport and the way we may be excellent on Nov. 25,” Bagley mentioned.
ASU coach Bobby Hurley highlighted defensive effort as a key for the workforce and mentioned that whereas perfection will doubtless not be attainable, the proficient Solar Devils might want to display psychological toughness by means of these struggles to seek out success.
“We’re not going to be excellent, particularly early, and we’ve got to have the ability to flip the web page,” Hurley mentioned.
With an abbreviated non-conference schedule, the stakes of every sport are heightened. Though Baylor’s exit value the Solar Devils an opportunity for a signature win, a victory over Rhode Island would nonetheless doubtless put them in place to play Villanova and presumably knock off a top-three opponent for the third time in 4 seasons.
“That is why I got here right here,” Christopher mentioned. “Let’s go forward and see what we’re fabricated from off the rip.”
An ASU loss would set the workforce as much as play the loser of Boston School versus Villanova within the third-place sport.
They tip off in opposition to Rhode Island on Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. MST.