TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Resume builder.
“We’ve been playing pretty good basketball,’” said ASU head coach Bobby Hurley. “This time of year, that’s all you really want. It’s our last opportunity, our last regular season opportunity. You want to be playing great basketball going into postseason tournaments.”
Excuse Bobby Hurley and the ASU Sun Devils this week if talk of their rivalry with Arizona takes a back seat to talk of their resume – a resume that has about a week left for any polishing and finishing touches. The first opportunity for that comes Saturday in Tucson (2pm, CBS 5) against a Wildcat team that would love nothing more to at least momentarily derail the Sun Devils trek to the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s hard to gauge,” said Hurley of the Sun Devils precarious NCAA standing. “You don’t know what people are going to value. We’re going to try and win [Saturday] and then win and advance in the Pac-12 Tournament. Our Quad 1 and 2 wins speak for themselves – we have 10 in those two areas.”
Quad wins in one of the newer metrics the selection committee now uses to judge the amount of quality wins a team has over the course of the season but there’s also two tried and true measures – win total and eye test. ASU can do itself a huge favor with both Saturday at McKale Center – earning its 21st win on the season and impressing a CBS network television audience with a win in what’s been an historically hostile environment. ASU has won just four games in Tucson since the 1983 season.
“It’s going to be a war with all that’s at stake,” said senior forward Zylan Cheatham will play his first and only ASU-UofA game at McKale Center Saturday. “Obviously it’s a rivalry and we know how we feel about each other but it’s a really important game for both teams. This is what you prepare for. This is what you play for. If you don’t like playing in hostile, loud crowds, this really isn’t the sport for you.”
With a 20-9 record, most ‘bracketologists’ currently have ASU in the NCAA Tournament but the Sun Devils likely need one more win to feel comfortable on selection Sunday. Not because ’21’ is any sort of magic number –If the Sun Devils fail to win another game– it will mean a 20-11 final record, losses in three of their last four games and a first-game, one and done exit by the two-seed in the Pac-12 Conference Tournament – and that would not be a very good look to the selection committee. So again, one more win – and two would be even better.
“There’s no time to relax,” said Cheatham on the season’s final week. “We’ve dropped games that we feel that we shouldn’t have dropped. We put ourselves in this position. There’s no more margin for error and that’s how we’re approaching every day.”
“I told the guys, there’s no more time to lose and learn from it,” Hurley said. “We’ve got to get past that. These games now, it’s single-elimination time. You’ve got to string together multiple wins.”
“All our guys, we know what’s at stake.” Said Cheatham. “We know what type of environment we’re coming in to [Saturday in Tucson] I really like our chances going into this weekend.”
ASU defeated Arizona 95-88 in overtime in Tempe on January 31st.