The Pac-10 was so weak last season that Arizona State finished second in conference play but failed to the make the NCAA Tournament. That finish was surprising for the Sun Devils who were expected to struggle after the losses of James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph to the NBA. Can Herb Sendek once again turn ASU into a conference contender?
By: David Kay
Arizona State Sun Devils (2nd, 12-6 in Pac-10, 22-11 overall)
Projected Depth Chart
C: Jordan Bachynski (Fr)/Ruslan Pateev (So)
F: Richard Kuksiks (Sr)/Carrick Felix (So)/Kyle Cain (Fr)
G/F: Trent Lockett (So)/Keala King (Fr)/Chanse Creekmur (Fr)
SG: Ty Abbott (Sr)/Corey Hawkins (Fr)
PG: Jamelle McMillen (Sr)/Brandon Dunson (Jr)
Gone: PG-Derek Glasser, C-Eric Boateng, G/F-Jerren Shipp, G-Brandon Thompson (transfer-South Plainc JC), F/C-Taylor Rohde (transfer-Alaska-Anchorage), PG-Demetrius Walker (transfer-New Mexico), F-Victor Rudd (transfer-South Florida), C-Alex English
Herb Sendek worked wonders with the Sun Devils last season. Expected to be one of the worst teams in the conference after losing their top two players to the NBA, Arizona State surprised everybody finishing one game behind Cal in the Pac-10 standings.
Sendek faces the challenge of replacing under-appreciated point guard Derek Glasser who epitomized what it means to be a true floor general at the college level. The senior duo of Jamelle McMillen and Ty Abbott bring some experience and outside shooting to the backcourt, but can they replace the intangibles that Glasser brought to the team.
ASU’s leading scorer is back in Richard Kuksiks. The Latvia native is a long-range bomber as 211 of his 307 field goal attempts last season came beyond the arc. Sophomore Trent Lockett figures to start on the wing and will be asked to take on a bigger role coming off a rather successful freshman campaign.
The Sun Devils are very thin inside after losing Eric Boetang to graduation and Taylor Rohde to transfer. 7-2 freshman Jordan Bachynski and seldom-used sophomore Ruslan Pateev bring height, but not a whole lot of skill to the post. After that, there is no player taller than 6-7 on the ASU roster.
Despite losing four players to transfer, ASU brings in seven talented newcomers who will pretty much make up the entire bench. Freshmen Kaela King, Corey Hawkins, Kyle Cain, Chanse Creekmur, and JUCO transfers Carrick Felix and Brandon Dunson are the future of the team, but how much can they contribute in their first year with the Sun Devils? If this class lives up to the hype right off the bat, ASU could be bound for their fourth straight 20-plus win season.
Player to Watch: Carrick Felix, SF
Originally a Duke recruit, Felix was about to become the first JUCO transfer in Blue Devil history. Instead, he was released from his scholarship and chose to come to Arizona State. Of the seven newcomers, Felix has the ability to make the biggest impact. He is an athletic wing who thrives in transition. While the Sun Devils play more of slow down, deliberate style of offense, the athleticism of Felix and some of the in-coming recruits could elicit a more up-tempo style of play in the desert.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at New Mexico
11/20 vs. UAB
11/27 vs. St. John’s/Drake/Ball State/Southern Utah (Great Alaska Shootout)
12/2 at Baylor
12/5 vs. Richmond
12/17 at Nevada
1/12 vs. Tulsa
Other 99 in 99’s:
#60 Northern Iowa
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#71 Weber State
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma State
#82 South Carolina
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State