FROM TEMPE, Ariz. — There's really nothing quite like the feeling of sitting in an empty arena a few hours before the game starts. Everything is calm, quiet. You can watch the arena staff get everything ready to go. Team staffers are playing 2-on-2. Trent Lockett is riding an exercise bike. Wait — that might actually be noteworthy. Read on.
Lockett, ASU's leading scorer, hasn't played in the team's last three games, including Thursday's loss to Washington. But it looks like the 6-foot-4 junior guard seems to be doing everything he can to get himself ready for this one. He was stretching earlier, doing some dribbling drills, testing his injured ankle. As I write this, he's on the bike, and has been for 20 minutes or so. Hard to tell how well he's moving, since he's not doing any running or cutting. Heck, maybe they already know he's not playing, and he's just getting as much work in as he can before the game starts. (UPDATE: I'm told Lockett won't play today. So that ends that.) … The Cougars, of course, will be without Faisal Aden, who has a sprained MCL in his left knee and will undergo and MRI exam tomorrow. He's using crutches to get around. … How will the Cougars fare against ASU's matchup zone? Coach Ken Bone said he thinks WSU is well-equipped to attack it, because they have experienced players (Reggie Moore, Abe Lodwick, Marcus Capers) who have seen it plenty of times before. The Cougars don't want to settle for 3-pointers, certainly, but they've shot at a decent clip this year and could make life very difficult for ASU if they get hot early. Without Aden, they'll need increased offensive contribution across the board. As DaVonte Lacy told me yesterday after practice, it's not as if one player is suddenly going to take 15 more shots because Aden isn't playing. More likely, those shots will be spread among the rest of the guards in the rotation, and may mean that Brock Motum could get more touches. Which is something Bone has wanted all season. … Coaches and staff members will wear sneakers today in support of Coaches vs. Cancer weekend. … Stat to watch: ASU averages 16.4 turnovers per game, which is an insane number considering the way they play. That'd be like an up-temp team averaging about 25.
All for now. We'll try to post something quick after the game, but can't promise anything with a story to write and a 9:10 flight back to Spokane this evening.