ASU kicks off the season with a victory over Idaho State
By Andrew Bell // ASU Men’s Basketball Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
TEMPE, AZ The ASU basketball team was back to action for their first regular season game against the Idaho State Bengals on Friday night.
Prior to ASU’s contest with the Bengals, it was announced that ASU sophomore forward Ramon Vila had left the program while freshman forward Kimani Lawrence and redshirt freshman forward Romello White would not be in uniform in Friday night’s game.
While ASU and head coach Bobby Hurley might have been posed with possible adversity just prior to their season opener, the Sun Devils did not panic and they went on to roll against Idaho State 94-74 at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We had to revert back to some of our smaller lineups from last year for larger stretches in this game,” Hurley said. “We will still do that this year, but because of guys not being available tonight, it kind of forced our hand, and hopefully we get everyone back.”
Although the Sun Devils were plagued with a couple of missing pieces, they would find the solution to the puzzle-Junior forward De’Quon Lake.
Lake was a force to be reckoned with on the inside for ASU. He finished the game with 24 points while shooting 80 percent from the field (8-10 FG’s), and he also tallied eight rebounds and a plethora of highlight reel dunks for the Sun Devils.
“We went to him a couple of times early by design to try and get him touches, and we thought we might have had an advantage in there because he does have the ability to score on the block,” Hurley said of Lake. “…He was finishing, and it just gives us more swag when a guy is showing that type of athletic ability and finishing.”
Lake is a highly touted junior college transfer from Iowa Western College. In his first couple of exhibition games with the Sun Devils, Hurley noted how he was still adjusting to the new system in Tempe.
However, on Friday night, Lake was in the midst of all of the action for ASU and he was ready from the tipoff.
“It all started off with a good week of practice,” Lake said. “It moved onto the game … I felt good in shootaround, and in the locker room, and I just had a bunch of energy.”
As a team, ASU shot 52 percent from the field, and they were able to take advantage of Idaho State miscues by coming up with 18 points off of 14 Bengal turnovers.
The Sun Devils also owned the glass despite not having two of their key components on the interior. ASU outrebounded ISU 41-29, and they had 16 second chance points.
Among other notable standouts in the backcourt were senior guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II, who combined for 43 points.
“Our guards really do such a good job of caving the defense in, and dropping the ball off,” Hurley said. “When they (Idaho State) went zone, they did pretty well with the high-low’s.”
While the two seniors certainly put forth a solid performance, it was freshman guard Remy Martin who continued to impress his coaches and teammates.
Martin ended his night with 12 points, four rebounds, and five assists in 34 minutes played, and he was relentless on both sides of the ball.
“He believes in himself and he has played in a lot of big games,” Hurley said of Martin. “He’s not like a freshman that was in the middle of nowhere and didn’t play against anybody. He has played against elite competition in high school for years, and usually the transition to this level is easier when something like that happens.”
Martin not only impressed his coach, but he has also gained the attention of his teammates with his play early in the season.
“Where he is at now, and where I was at my freshman year … he is way past where I was,” Evans II said. “He’s scoring the ball, passing, defending, and bringing energy. He’s got a lot of characteristics that can take this team to a next level and when I leave, and me, Tra and Kodi (Justice) leave, I feel like Coach Hurley is going to give him the keys to this program.”
As for ASU’s presence on the inside with the absence of Lawrence and White, their timetables are still in the air for Tuesday’s matchup with SDSU.
“He had a good workout today,” Hurley said of White. “He’s doing great and he’s doing all of the right things, and we are hopeful that he will be out there soon, and he will get some practices under his belt leading into this game, but he is still game-to-game at this point.”
Hurley addressed Lawrence’s situation as well.
“He hurt his foot and he has put in so much work in the preseason,” Hurley said. “He loves the game and he wanted to be out here for his first college game, so you feel terrible for him that he couldn’t play.”
Lawrence will be reevaluated on Monday to determine the length of his injury.
Although a timetable has yet to be determined, ASU will now get ready for their matchup with the San Diego State Aztecs, who come to Wells Fargo Arena for a matchup with the Devils on Tuesday.
“It’s a big game on Tuesday so we are hoping to get everyone back on the floor soon,” Hurley said.
Andrew Bell is one of Blaze Radio’s beat writers for ASU Men’s Basketball. You can reach out to him at email@example.com or follow Andrew on Twitter @@AndrewBell7