The Case For Torian Graham

Arizona Sports News online

It is said that if you want something done right, do it yourself.

So here in Sun Devil Nation, we feel we need to handle something ourselves to make sure the job is properly done.

When the Pac-12 men’s basketball coaches released their awards Monday, there was a pretty serious omission.

ASU guard Torian Graham, the leading scorer in Pac-12 Conference games, an Honorable Mention all-Pac-12? Not even second-team?

Get out your tool belts. Time to get to work.

Let’s start with the most obvious of the numbers – Graham scored an average of 18.5 points per game over 18 Pac-12 contests. Overall, Graham was second at 18.3. The Pac-12 is not a cupcake league, either. Consider that Graham played five of his 18 games against teams currently ranked in the top 10. In those games (UCLA, Arizona and Oregon), Graham averaged 20 points a game.

It’s not hard to figure those five games came against defenses designed to control Graham, but he still managed to shoot a combined 40% from three-point range.

He made an immediate impression on the voters with a 30-point performance at Stanford in the Pac-12 opener. His 29 at Washington helped ASU to a win. In a return match with UCLA in Tempe, he dropped 28 on the Bruins.

There’s another statistic that should weight in Graham’s favor – minutes played. In Pac-12 games, Graham averaged 36.6 minutes per game.

It leads to several conclusions. First and foremost is the fact that Graham managed to play so much without fouling out of game, meaning he was a coach’s dream – knowing how to defend without fouling. Even more impressive is the fact the opposition knew ASU’s bench was thin, meaning if they could Graham in foul trouble, there wasn’t much in the way of replacements. It was a strategy that often failed.

ASU’s lineup was also small, meaning that guards like Graham knew they would defenders in their faces out on the perimeter.

Those on the Honorable Mention list are there because they had at least three votes but obviously not enough to get on the list. To be honest, Graham had a handful of games where he struggled with the outside shot, but these are the coaches voting. They watch film. They know the players better than anyone.

So hopefully this fix-it project takes hold. Of course, Torian can do his own fix-it campaign in Las Vegas. Those same coaches? They’ll all be there.