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November 11, 2011Several weeks ago, Herb Sendek proclaimed he would henceforth be known as "Happy Herb." It took but one game for him to abandon his jocular demeanor, however, as the Arizona State coach took no effort to hide his displeasure following Friday's season opener.
The Sun Devils may have beaten Montana State, 78-72, in front of 5,603 at Wells Fargo Arena, but other than praise for junior Trent Lockett and the team's success at the foul line, where it converted 28 of 35 attempts, Sendek was displeased.
ASU committed 22 turnovers -- the most ever by a Sendek team at the school -- against just 12 assists and gave up 17 offensive rebounds, statistics that kept the Bobcats somewhat in the game, even at an arm's distance, through its conclusion.
"We were annihilated on the glass, said Sendek, who went with a smallish starting lineup featuring sophomore Kyle Cain at center and Carrick Felix at 6-foot-6 the next tallest player at tipoff. "The other thing that allowed the game to be hanging in the balance time and time again was our turnovers. Careless, sloppy turnovers."
Montana State scored 22 points off second-chance opportunities and even though ASU won the overall rebounding edge, Sendek considered it a poor performance and said that, coupled with ASU's turnover woes allowed its opponent to stay in the game despite a poor shooting performance overall.
"It seems like they shot a much higher percentage than 34 percent from the field because every time they shot they got another shot, and sometimes a third shot," Sendek said.
Lockett had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Sun Devils, which played a very shallow rotation consisting of just seven players for a majority of the game, with freshman Jonathan Gilling seeing just three minutes early on and sophomore Jordan Bachynski not making it off the bench.
Sophomore Keala King earned a starting nod on the wing and played perhaps his best career game, making 6 of 9 shots from the floor including 3 of 4 from 3-point range to finish with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Though the box score didn't show it, junior college transfer Chris Colvin showed great promise as he created offense seemingly at will in the halfcourt and transition both for himself and teammates.
In 24 minutes, Colvin, who started at point guard with freshman Jahii Carson's eligibility still undetermined, had seven turnovers with five assists and 10 points. A number of the turnovers by Colvin came on plays where his teammates failed to capitalize on opportunities he set up.
The Sun Devils gave up 51 second half points after leading at halftime by 12, 33-21, and looked disjointed at times, with Sendek noting the game was played just four weeks to the day from their first practice. But King said their relative lack of time spent with one another can't be used as an excuse because the games will now come in a hurry, and not stop.
"It better happen fast," King said, when asked about getting together on the same page. "Season-time is here."