Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
October 13, 2011Never one to dwell much on anything positive or negative, Arizona State coach Herb Sendek probably would have labeled this season a "new beginning" as he did at Wednesday's Media Day regardless of how successful his team was last year.
Sendek is no doubt aware that this beginning is a little different than the start of the other five years before him in Tempe after Arizona State last season fell far short of expectations for the first time in his tenure at the school, finishing at the bottom of the Pac-10 at 4-14 an 12-19 overall.
Then again, when expectations have been low, such as they were heading into the 2007-08 and 2009-10 seasons, his teams have managed to put together impressive showings. Both of those teams won 20-plus games after being picked in the bottom half of the league by most pundits.
"Whatever circumstances you find yourself in you try to make the best of them," Sendek said. "I don't suppose it would be all that bad to be preseason No. 1 in the country either. Whatever circumstances are yours for that time, you try to take advantage of them and use them to your advantage and make the best of them."
With practice set to start Friday, this year's circumstances are less than ideal considering the top in-state recruit to sign with the Sun Devils since Sendek arrived in Tempe, Mesa High graduate Jahii Carson, is yet to be academically cleared.
Carson, a 5-foot-10, 160 pound jitterbug point guard, won't be able to practice with the Sun Devils until he is certified by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He wasn't at Wednesday's team photo.
"Unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to say very much other than we remain hopeful that he'll be joining us in the near future," Sendek said.
"Obviously, not knowing (about Carson's availability) always adds another layer to your preparation, always creates more contingencies that you have to deal with. But as you go through any season, sometimes you have to adapt."
With last year's point guard Jamelle McMillan having exhausted eligibility -- along with Ty Abbott and Rihards Kuksiks, together the winningest senior class in school history at 80 wins -- the lone returning player who can play the position is sophomore Keala King.
Much like King, junior college addition Chris Colvin, a 6-foot-2, 200 pound Chicago native who played at Palm Beach Community College last year, is alble to play both backcourt positions. He's spent all of his time at point guard in the team's skill sessions leading up to Friday's first team workout.
"The one thing that really stands out watching Chris is his quickness," Sendek said. "He's one of those guys you can get excited about on the defensive end of the floor. He has a very quick first step. He's eye-catching with his quickness."
Of course, if ASU is going to be much improved in the win column it'll need junior wing Trent Lockett, a second-team all-league player last season with averages of 13.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, to take his game to even greater heights.
"He's got one of the most consistent jumpers now," sophomore Jordan Bachynski said of Lockett. "He had an amazing penetration game where he was able to get to the hole really effectively and this year he's going to not only have that but an outside shot."
With the graduation of prolific shooters Kuksiks and Abbott -- who finished second and third overall in career 3-pointers made in school history -- Sendek is prepared to put more emphasis on pushing the ball in transition and stripping down the halfcourt offense to allow for his athletes to make more plays off the dribble.
"It's still in its beginning stages," Lockett said. "Obviously we haven't even started practice yet but I think he's tailoring it a little different to our personnel. We lost quite a few shooters last year and gained a few penetrators and slashers. So I think he's tailoring it a little different to our personnel and we'll see more as practice develops."
It's on the other end of the floor, however, where Sendek has had his team primarily focused during its skill sessions which began when school started, and allow four players in the gym at a time per NCAA rules.
"We really have spent more time with our defensive fundamentals," Sendek said. "Looking at last season in the rear view mirror felt like we really needed to do a better job teaching, coaching, emphasizing, drilling the fundamentals of defense and not be as influenced by the schematics of the defense. So we really have put our arms around that part and in the process tried to solidify our mindset with our guys. We have to do a better job defending and I think that's been good for us in the preseason."