Pac-12 M5: 01.28.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 28th, 2013


  1. The biggest breaking news over the weekend came out of Eugene late Friday night when Bob Clark of the Register-Guard reported that Dominic Artis would be out indefinitely with a foot injury of undetermined severity. Oregon still managed to knock off Washington on Saturday evening (in the first sellout at Matthew Knight Arena in almost two years) with Artis watching from the bench in a walking boot. Junior Jonathan Loyd got the start and was solid, getting to the line 10 times in 31 minutes of action and scoring nine points, but he did turn the ball over five times to go along with his five assists. The other guy who earned some of the Artis’ minutes was freshman Willie Moore, who earned nine minutes, his most since before Christmas, but he too struggled with turnovers. With no timetable announced for Artis’ return, the Ducks will have to rely on those two to step up as they go to the Bay Area schools next week.
  2. The other injury of note over the past week was to UCLA’s Travis Wear, whose concussion suffered in the first half against Arizona on Thursday night kept him out of Saturday’s visit to Arizona State. But, Travis Wear or no Travis Wear, the Bruins were going down hard on Saturday. They struggled with the Sun Devils’ athleticism, size and energy, but mostly, they just weren’t engaged in the game after Thursday night’s big win. ASU outhustled UCLA from the opening tip to the closing buzzer, with Jordan Bachynski, Carrick Felix and Evan Gordon having big games and Jahii Carson, despite struggling from the field, conducting a masterful performance at the point.
  3. Last night in front of a sparse crowd limited by blizzard conditions in Salt Lake City, Stanford’s offense got back on track in a big way against Utah, scoring 46 first-half points, 87 points for the game, and looking for the first time in a long time like the explosive team that ran to last year’s NIT title. On the Utah side of the court, sophomore transfer Dallin Bachynski did not suit up for the game and his future at the school is in doubt. After getting double-figure minutes in his first 12 games as a Ute, he hasn’t seen anywhere near that run in Pac-12 play and has lost his starting job to senior Jason Washburn. Bachynski met with head coach Larry Krystkowiak on Friday to discuss his future with the program, and while there are no immediate answers as to his long-term status, the fact that he did still sit on the bench with the team (although he didn’t dress out), indicates that he isn’t going away permanently quite yet.
  4. Arizona bounced back from its disappointing loss on Thursday by jumping out to a commanding early lead against USC and never looking back. The Wildcats held USC to nine points on its first 23 possessions, forcing seven turnovers and 2-of-19 shooting. Aside from the crispness with which the ‘Cats played, another aspect of the game that pleased head coach Sean Miller was the fact that it gave him a chance to extend his bench and find some minutes for guys like Angelo Chol and Gabe York. After playing in the first 14 games of the year, Chol has slid back to take the ninth-man spot in an eight-man rotation, but he played with energy in his eight minutes against the Trojans, grabbing a couple boards and blocking a shot. York, a high-flying freshman, has now played in nine games this year, but the USC game was his first appearance in Pac-12 play and he followed Miller’s advice by being very aggressive in looking for his shot. York played eight minutes and yet found room for five three-point attempts, knocking down a couple. Miller has talked with both guys about their playing time and has come away impressed with their maturity even when the minutes haven’t been there.
  5. Colorado took it to California on Sunday and did so without the services of Andre Roberson for much of the first half. Despite losing the nation’s leading rebounder to foul trouble, the Buffs rode some hot shooting to a 34-18 halftime lead and never looked back. After the game, Cal head coach Mike Montgomery had plenty of questions about his team, including whether the team even thought it could win the game and what type of mindset it now has. With conference leader Oregon due in Haas Pavilion next weekend and any distant hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament receding into the sunset, the Bears need to get it together, and quick. One good bit of news: senior guard Brandon Smith returned to action this weekend after six games lost due to the effects of a concussion.

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Pac-12 Report Card: Volume III

Posted by AMurawa on January 23rd, 2013

Just about one-third of the way through our semester, Oregon is the favorite pupil, having earned all As in their exams. Join Professor Pac as we once again break down our class and see who’s joining the Ducks at the front of the class and who’s in the corner with the dunce cap.

Oregon – A

Before we give props to the Ducks for their 5-0 conference start and vault to the favorite position in the conference, let’s take a minute to mourn the loss of the full 18-game home-and-away round-robin of the Pac-10. You see, with UO’s win at UCLA this week and home win against Arizona last week, the Ducks have wrapped up this seasons’ meeting with those two teams. Neither the Wildcats nor the Bruins will get a chance for revenge, at least until and unless they meet up in Vegas come mid-March. But, that’s not the Ducks fault. No, they’ve done what they’ve needed to do early and they’ve set themselves up well. Now, they’ve still got more than two-thirds of the conference schedule remaining, but here are their remaining road games in conference play: Stanford, Cal, Washington, Washington State, Colorado and Utah. They’ll be favorites in all of those games, as well as all of their home games. Sure, there are probably a couple of losses in the mix there somewhere, but barring some significant slide that Dana Altman-coached teams are not known for, the Ducks are a heavy favorite to be the #1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.

The Diminutive Jonathan Loyd Brings Energy Off The Bench For Oregon (

The Diminutive Jonathan Loyd Brings Energy Off The Bench For Oregon (

Focus on: Jonathan Loyd. Freshman point guard Dominic Artis is the rightful recipient of plenty of positive buzz regarding his play, but the diminutive junior backup deserves some credit for accepting his decreased minutes and filling his role. Sure, he can’t shoot a lick. And his turnovers are through the roof this season. But you can see that his defensive intensity has carried over to his freshman pupil and he always brings energy aplenty when he’s on the court. And, consider this: a 5’8” he swatted away a Larry Drew II fastbreak layup tattempt this weekend

Looking ahead: The Ducks host the Washington schools this week and Ken Pomeroy puts the chances that they win each game somewhere north of 85%. Beware the letdown, Ducks.

Arizona – A-

For three quarters of their battle with in-state rival Arizona State on Saturday, the ‘Cats had a battle on their hands, played basically to a draw. But over the last 10 minutes, a time that coincided almost exactly with Mark Lyons coming back in the game (and, with Lyons drawing the fourth foul on Jahii Carson), they outscored the Sun Devils by 15 and equaled the biggest defeat ASU has suffered this season. Over those ten minutes, Lyons repeatedly got to the hoop, scoring 12 points and handing out three assists in likely his best 10-minute stretch as the UA point guard. The problem is the previous 30 minutes, wherein Lyons had 12 points on 11 field goal attempts, zero assists and four turnovers. Sure, he’s one heck of a closer, but as the season ramps up come March, the ‘Cats will need a more complete performance.

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Pac-12 M5: 01.18.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 18th, 2013


  1. The likely brief Bob Cantu era begin at Southern California last night and, while his Trojans showed plenty of resiliency in sticking around with Oregon and fighting back from a late ten-point deficit to have a chance (okay, more like four chances, three of them point-blank) in the waning moments to win or send the game to overtime, his first game of his interim stretch still goes down in the record book as a loss. For the Top 25 Ducks, they escape the trap game in advance of this weekend’s more celebrated match-up with UCLA, but of concern is their seemingly newfound ability to take comfortable late-game leads and turn them into significantly uncomfortable late-game battles. Certainly much of that has to do with their freshman backcourt, but if UO wants to compete seriously for a Pac-12 title, they need to begin closing games more effectively.
  2. Earlier, up town a piece, UCLA was displaying a similar trait, although nowhere near as dramatically. For at least the fourth time in their five Pac-12 wins, the Bruins surged out to a comfortable lead, only to ease off the gas and let an overmatched opponent back into the game, this time against Oregon State. With the Ducks waiting on Saturday, that will not be an option. Aside from the game, there were other big goings-on at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night, as Jamaal Wilkes became just the eighth player to have his jersey retired at UCLA. On hand for the festivities were other such Bruin luminaries as Bill Walton (who handled the color duties for the ESPN broadcast), Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Mike Warren and Marques Johnson.
  3. The Oregon/UCLA game isn’t the only big-time Pac-12 game this weekend, as Arizona and Arizona State will square off in the battle for the Grand Canyon State Saturday as well. After ASU experienced a couple of very down years, they’re back in the mix in the conference, and their improvement on the defensive end is a large reason. Almost completely forsaking the match-up zone of the past, Herb Sendek has turned his team loose in man-to-man defense with athletic perimeter guys like Jahii Carson, Carrick Felix and Evan Gordon harassing ball-handlers and Jordan Bachynski cleaning up anyone that siphons through.
  4. Washington maybe the biggest story in the early going of conference play off of four straight wins to open Pac-12 in surprising fashion. Ben Knibbe of the UW Dawg Pound writes that the difference between the currently streaking Huskies and the team that lost to Albany and Nevada is that they’re finally beginning to play man-to-man defense at the level expected of Lorenzo Romar-coached teams. Part of that is due to veterans completely buying in, part of it is due to great team chemistry, but whatever the cause, so long as the defense remains a priority, expect the Huskies to keep on winning.
  5. We started the week with the Kevin O’Neill news, and its been a constant theme all week, so we might as well wrap it up by touching on it one last time. Pat Haden told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that not only is USC ready and willing to spend what it takes to land a big-name coach, but that he’s already had contact with people who are potentially interested in the job. But we’re all just going to have to wait and see what happens, because as Haden acknowledged, the guys that he is after aren’t going to be ready to commit to USC until after their NCAA Tournament runs are complete.
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Pac-12 M5: 12.03.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on December 3rd, 2012

  1. All things considered, it was a severely disappointing weekend for Pac-12 basketball, so let’s jump right into the week with the depressing news early and head to some better news towards the back end of the Morning Five. The most high-profile loss of the weekend for the conference was likely UCLA’s loss at the John Wooden Classic to San Diego State, a loss in which UCLA clearly abdicated the crown of California’s golden jewel of basketball programs to the Aztecs (if it hadn’t been abdicated earlier). And, in the wake of their early season struggles, Peter Yoon of puts the obvious into words: it is time to reassess this Bruin team, and the reassessment is not likely to be pretty. Yeah, there is certainly still talent here, but at this moment in time, a team that is starting three freshmen simply doesn’t have the experience yet to match up with a talented veteran squad like the Aztecs. There is still hope that a corner will be turned, but as Ben Howland put it after the game “there’s a lot of learning still that we’re doing.”
  2. At about the same time that UCLA was losing to the Aztecs, another Mountain West team was disposing of a highly regarded Pac-12 team, as Leonard Washington led Wyoming to a seven-point victory over Colorado. After the game, Tad Boyle laid the cards right on the table, pointing to CU’s turnovers and defensive struggles as the reasons for the loss. And he called out his team for its lack of cohesion, calling for players to accept their roles and play as a collective rather than a group of individuals. Really, when all is said and done, this loss may be a net positive for the team. As a young team, they’ve had some good success early in the season, but this being their first true road game, and one against a hard-nosed team, it is somewhat understandable that they didn’t bring their best. Look for Boyle to use this game as a lesson for his team as it heads into tougher games down the line. For the Buffaloes to again make their way through the minefield of Pac-12 road games, they’ll need to display a mental toughness that was severely lacking on Saturday night.
  3. And, speaking of a lack of mental toughness, California went into Madison yesterday and got absolutely drilled by Wisconsin, losing by 25 in a game in which they turned the ball over 23 times. Head coach Mike Montgomery blamed the loss on a poor week of practice, saying that “some of our guys just don’t prepare themselves for practice the way they should.” Like Colorado, Cal has had plenty of early season success, and a well-placed road game on the heels of all that success was a recipe for disaster. Allen Crabbe agreed with his coach, saying “we basically got what we deserved.” With visits from UNLV and Creighton due up next on the Golden Bears’ schedule, things aren’t going to get much easier, but at least Montgomery can use this loss as a wake-up call and he knows he’ll have those next two games in the friendly confines of Haas Pavilion.
  4. Okay, enough negativity, but we’ve got to transition from negativity to positivity slowly. So, we’ll mention that although Arizona kept alive its perfect record by going on the road and dispatching of Texas Tech, head coach Sean Miller still has some concerns about Mark Lyons as his lead guard. While Lyons leads the team in scoring with 14 points per night, he’s turning the ball over at a rate that far eclipses his ability to hand out assists to his teammates. But, Miller points out that although those turnovers are cause for concern, the coaching staff is addressing those concerns and that they’ve thus far found Lyons to be “a willing learner.” And, in the shadow of some of Lyons’ struggles, sophomore Nick Johnson has stepped into more of a lead-guard type of role and has handed out 13 assists against just one turnover in the past three games.
  5. And, to send you into the rest of your Monday will some full-fledged good news, Arizona State’s Evan Gordon broke out of a season-long slump in a big way on Saturday night, drilling five three-pointers in nine attempts (after hitting just 20.6% of his shots from deep in the team’s first six games) on his way to 29 points in the Sun Devils’ 20-point win over Sacramento State. Coming into the year, Gordon was expected to be a lights-out shooter on the wing, especially opposite penetrating point Jahii Carson, but his shot simply wasn’t falling early. For ASU to continue their winning ways, especially once they get to conference play, they’ll need Gordon to be a scorer for them on the wing, so while the early struggles with the shot can be discounted somewhat, it is comforting to see his shots begin to fall.
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Pac-12 Team Previews: Arizona State Sun Devils

Posted by AMurawa on November 2nd, 2012

Throughout the preseason, the Pac-12 microsite will be rolling out these featured breakdowns of each of the 12 league schools. Today’s release is the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Strengths.  The biggest strength the Sun Devils may have this season is enthusiasm, confidence and camaraderie. Two years ago, a combination of bad luck and senioritis killed the team’s season before conference play had even gotten into the grind. Last year, poor team chemistry and low expectations conspired to sap ASU of energy before even the New Year. This year, there is a swagger about the program, in part due to the confidence that newly eligible guys like Jahii Carson and Evan Gordon bring along with them. It also doesn’t hurt that those players have been in the program for a couple of years and know and like their teammates. That injection of talent combined with improving veterans and, as of right now, the Sun Devils have the feel of a team with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. That alone can take some of the 64-61 and 68-65 losses that ASU suffered last year (six of their first nine defeats were by six points or less) and turn those into wins. That newfound attitude coupled with a pretty significant upgrade in talent could equal the first step on the road to redemption for Herb Sendek’s program.

Jahii Carson, Arizona State

With Jahii Carson Leading The Way, This Edition Of The Sun Devils Has More Swagger Than Recent Teams

Weaknesses. A note on the above, all that good will and happiness could go south right quick if a couple bad bounces go against ASU; “here we go again” and all that. There are a couple of other significant areas that the Sun Devils need to improve on, however: turnovers and defense. Last year, ASU was in the bottom half of the country in defensive efficiency. And on the offensive end of the court, ASU turned the ball over more frequently than all but three other teams in Division I (according to KenPom), leading to pretty awful offensive numbers as well. Now, the addition of Carson alone could mean improvements in both of those areas, but with the new point guard comes a new faster-paced offense (just how much faster remains to be seen). And, if the freshman gets a little to amped up in an effort to push the pace, it is possible that those turnovers could stick around as well.

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Pac-12 M5: 10.26.12 Edition

Posted by PBaruh on October 26th, 2012

  1. The Washington Huskies had their first exhibition game two nights ago and knocked off Western Washington, 88-78, a much closer result than expected. Washington only committed 14 turnovers but couldn’t manage to pull away from the Vikings until the very end of the game. Abdul Gaddy struggled early, but redshirt freshman Andrew Andrews tallied 14 points to carry the team in the first half. Gaddy picked it back up in the second half and finished with 14 points as well. More importantly was the play of C.J. Wilcox, who led Washington with 21 points by shooting 7-14 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds. It’s October and it’s an exhibition so fans should not put too much stock into the margin of victory, but it was still a little too close for comfort.
  2. CBS came out with its top 30 freshman in America and, somewhat surprisingly, Shabazz Muhammad was listed as third behind Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. After Muhammad comes his other currently questionably-eligible teammate, Kyle Anderson at #4. Brandon Ashley of Arizona is the next to make an appearance on the list at #15 and then Jahii Carson of Arizona State lands at #23 followed by Grant Jerrett at #24. Carson will have an impact at Arizona State, but that slot seems a bit high for him. Yes, he’s an athletic, great ball-handling guard, but other players like Josh Scott of Colorado or Kaleb Tarczewski of Arizona could have a bigger impact than him.
  3. CBS also ranked its  top 25 transfers, and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons, now at Arizona, was ranked as the number one transfer. It’s hard to argue with this call considering Lyons will be a key cog for this Wildcat squad. He’ll take on the point guard spot for Sean Miller and should have a much larger impact than Josiah Turner did last year. Only two others from the Pac-12 made the list with Larry Drew II of UCLA coming in at #20 and Evan Gordon of Arizona State at #24. Those both seem like justifiable choices, however, leaving J.T. Terrell from USC  off the list is questionable, especially considering the fact that these same people listed him among the top 100 players in the nation. Terrell should play a big role for USC this year and although  he might not be the most notable player, he should still be on this list.
  4. UCLA’s number one recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, injured his shoulder on Wednesday at practice, and the results of his MRI came back yesterday. Muhammad will be out of action from 2-4 weeks with a shoulder strain. The injury is to his non-shooting shoulder, but it’s still a bad injury to have for a player of Muhammad’s caliber and just another thing to go wrong for the Bruins. Exactly two weeks from today, UCLA starts its season against Indiana State and while no one expected Muhammad to be declared eligible in time for that game, this effectively seals the fact that the year will begin without Muhammad in uniform. If everything breaks just exactly perfect for UCLA and Muhammad, he could make his debut in Brooklyn at the Legends Classic, but really, at this point, that is little more than wishful thinking.
  5. Hey, hey. Andrew stepping in here to take over the last bit of the Morning Five from Parker today, just because I wanted to gloat a little bit. Connor and I have been going back and forth all year picking every football game involving a Pac-12 team, and, well, ever since Washington State laid down for BYU back on the opening weekend of the seas0n, Connor has been kicking my butt. Wait. Actually, check that. Let’s make that “had been” kicking my butt. After week one, I was two games back. Just a week later I was down four. But, I didn’t panic, nailed the Stanford over SC upset, then came back a week later to take Washington over those same Cardinal, and by last Saturday afternoon when David Shaw’s bunch was wrapping up a victory in The Big Game, I had come all the way back AND taken a one-game lead over my foe. So, yeah, I’m spiking the ball a little bit harder these week, but I’m saving my touchdown dance for the final whistle, because we’ve got a pair of games this weekend on which we differ. Picks below, including our game of the week in bold. But, really, how can I lose to a guy who was so wrong about last week’s game of the week that he missed the final score of Oregon’s win over Arizona State by a whole six points?
    Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
    Colorado at Oregon Oregon Oregon
    California at Utah California Utah
    Oregon State at Washington Oregon State 28-17 Washington 21-20
    UCLA at Arizona State UCLA UCLA
    USC at Arizona USC USC
    Washington State at Stanford Stanford Stanford
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Pac-12 M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on October 11th, 2012

  1. Arizona State’s media day was on Tuesday, and as always, the ASU sports information department does a great job of getting their information out there. As ASU’s director of media relations Doug Tammaro put it, he’s got over 5,000 words on the Sun Devil basketball team, with tons of quotes from head coach Herb Sendek and players Jahii Carson and Evan Gordon. Given the fact that the team is coming off back-to-back subpar seasons (22-40 in the last two years), the Sun Devils have a lot to prove, but just reading through the enthusiasm that Sendek has about this collection of players and the confidence that Carson has in himself and his teammates, it isn’t that hard to envision this team overachieving its way into an upper-division conference finish. A lot would have to break right for that to happen, and the team needs to break through the Murphy’s Law culture that has seemingly taken hold in Tempe, but this ASU team should be an interesting watch all year long.
  2. Elsewhere in Tempe, Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic published an interview with ASU sophomore forward Jonathan Gilling on Sunday, and it too paints a picture of a Sun Devil squad ready to surprise people. Gilling, who came out of nowhere to start 18 games for the team and score in double figures eight times in conference play (quite an accomplishment as no better than a third option on a low-scoring team), looks around the roster and sees far more threats to give the opposition problems. Beginning with Carson and Gordon, but also extending to rapidly improving big man Jordan Bachynski and another incoming transfer in Bo Barnes, Gilling sees a completely different team. And, once again, we’ve got testimony from inside the program that Sendek’s promises for a more uptempo approach, including significantly more man-to-man defense, are not just lip service.
  3. Up in Pullman, Washington State is ready to plow ahead without the services of recently dismissed point guard Reggie Moore. Moore was head coach Ken Bone’s first recruit to WSU, but there is no use looking back now for him; he needs to begin to plan for the season without an obvious true point. At first glance it appears that it will be a point-guard-by-committee approach, with sophomore combo guard DaVonte Lacy, Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge, senior wing Mychal Ladd and sophomore Dexter Kernich-Drew all potentially chipping in to help get the Cougars into their offense. And, while we’re on Wazzu for a second, be honest, how many of you knew that former Oregon wing Brett Kingma landed in Pullman? Clearly, some of you did, but somehow this completely escaped my attention. It’s a good get for Bone, even if his freshman year in Eugene was a little bumpy and even if he’ll lose a year of eligibility by transferring within the conference.
  4. UCLA’s media day was yesterday, but it was significantly less revealing, if only because the biggest question about the Bruins’ season – if and when Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson will be declared eligible – remains presently unanswerable. So much so that UCLA had their vice chancellor of legal affairs, Kevin S. Reed, monitoring the press conference so that schools officials could remind the media whenever necessary that they wouldn’t be answering any questions about the NCAA review of Muhammad and Anderson’s eligibility. On a brighter note, however, it was announced that Pauley Pavilion is not only really, really close to being a completed project, but it is also a project that came in $44 million under budget. So, you know, the next time you’ve got a project that is gonna run you some nine-digit dollar amount, I believe UCLA’s got a contractor they can recommend.
  5. We’re back to the gridiron tonight with a less-than-stellar Thursday night affair between Arizona State and Colorado, and that means it is time for Connor and I to renew our prognosticating battle. I made up another game on Connor last week when USC bounced back from a rough start to pull away from Utah in the second half. Last week’s results leave Connor at 35-13 for the year, while I’m two games back at 33-15. Below are this week’s picks, with our predicted scores for our game of the week (Stanford at Notre Dame) in bold.
    Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
    Arizona State at Colorado Arizona State Arizona State
    Utah at UCLA UCLA UCLA
    California at Washington State Washington State California
    Oregon State at Brigham Young Brigham Young Oregon State
    USC at Washington USC USC
    Stanford at Notre Dame Notre Dame 38-31 Notre Dame 19-13
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Arizona State Week: What To Expect In 2012-13

Posted by AMurawa on June 15th, 2012

After a week’s worth of breaking down the Sun Devils, it is time to give a way-too-early preview as to their chances in 2012-13. With six newcomers, some of whom are expected to play very big roles, five returnees who could see a change in their roles, and the possibility of an increased tempo, there are plenty of questions whose answers will remain unknown until we get a chance to see this team in action. But, that never stopped anybody from making wild, relatively unfounded predictions based on limited information. So away we go.

ASU’s Leading ScorerEvan Gordon. Jahii Carson could lead the team in scoring if he wanted to, but the Sun Devils would likely be better off if he doesn’t. Carson’s primary role should be distributing the ball to his teammates and when necessary hitting the jumper or driving the lane to score. But wings like Gordon and senior Carrick Felix could be the beneficiaries of Carson’s playmaking ability. Not only can Gordon score in transition, but he can hit the three or drive to the hoop and create in the lane. This will likely be a team with balanced scoring (four players on this team could score in double figures), but we’ll give the nod to Gordon as the likely go-to scorer in the halfcourt.

With A New Cast Of Characters, The Sun Devils Hope To Get Wells Fargo Arena Rocking Again

ASU’s MVPJahii Carson. Assuming he lives up to expectations, the Sun Devils should be much better with his presence. Last year, in the absence of a steady point guard, ASU turned the ball over at an egregious rate. Carson should not only help the team cut down on turnovers, but he should also be capable of getting the ball to ASU’s best offensive options at the times and places where they can be most effective. And, if all else breaks down, he has the ability to create an opportunity for himself at the end of the shot clock, erasing bad end-of-clock looks that were a staple of ASU’s 10-21 year last season.

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Arizona State Week’s Burning Question: Is Herb Sendek The Right Man For the Sun Devil Job?

Posted by AMurawa on June 14th, 2012

When Herb Sendek left North Carolina State after the 2005-06 season to move to Arizona State, he had the reputation of a coach who had gotten the most out of his players. And after three-straight 20-win seasons in at ASU, two years ago he looked like he was going to be a fixture in Tempe for the foreseeable future. But last year, after a second consecutive dismal season and with players transferring out of the program at a rapid rate, there were some in the Sun Devil community calling for his head. Is Sendek still the right man for the ASU job and how important is the 2012-13 season for his future in Tempe?

Andrew Murawa: While the last two seasons have been undeniably disappointing and the epidemic of transfers certainly could be interpreted as something rotten at the heart of the program, Sendek has earned the benefit of the doubt in Tempe. Unfortunately, of the four losing seasons in his 19-year career, three have come at ASU, including the last two. Still, there are those three other 20-win seasons and three postseason appearances, only two of which came with the third pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, James Harden. And, while the 2010-11 failure remains somewhat inexplicable, last year’s struggles can in part be chalked up to some bad luck. The bad luck excuse doesn’t get you far, however, and another season as gloomy as the last two will have the buzzards circling even with the two-year extension that Sendek signed last December that will ostensibly keep him around through 2016. But, the good news is that Sendek has proven over the long haul that he can coach. And, in a state like Arizona that doesn’t produce a large number of great major conference-caliber prospects, his ability to coach his players up is a must. This year should begin to see the return of the ASU program, with Jahii Carson supplying an answer at point, and with guys like Evan Gordon, Carrick Felix and Jordan Bachynski reaping the benefit of a playmaking guard. While the Sun Devils certainly shouldn’t be expected to compete for a conference title, it is hard to envision this roster not showing significant improvement.

Herb Sendek, Arizona Statee

In 19 Seasons As A Head Coach, Sendek Has Had Four Losing Seasons, But Three Have Come In Tempe (Kirby Lee, US Presswire)

Connor Pelton: I see 2012-13 as a make or break year for Sendek. We don’t have to see any magical “10 wins one season, 22 and an NCAA Tournament appearance” the next, but improvement and roster stability is a must. Even with the losses of three key contributors plus a role player since January, the troops have arrived in Tempe and the pieces are in place for at least an NIT berth next season. While it will take a while to replace the productivity of Trent Lockett, highly-touted guard Jahii Carson is going to do his best to speed up that process. If he plays anywhere near the potential we’ve been hearing about, he will be one of the best freshman guards in the Pac-12. Replacing arguably the Pac-12’s most improved player through two and a half months last season will be ambitious as well, but freshman Calaen Robinson could very will fill the hole left by Keala King. Growing up 20 minutes away from Tempe, Robinson decided to keep his talents in the Valley of the Sun. The decision could prove to be huge for ASU has Robinson will be more fit to handle the true point guard duties. Filling the holes will be one thing, but equally important will be building and keeping relationships with the entire roster. Numerous players were in Sendek’s doghouse throughout last year, which would lead to the eventual dismissal of King. If Sendek can avoid any more roster shakeup and post a winning record, his job should be safe.

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Arizona State Week: Herb Sendek Promises A Faster Pace, Should We Believe Him?

Posted by AMurawa on June 14th, 2012

In talking to head coach Herb Sendek last week, one comment of his stood out about a change in the direction of his program. “I think the expectation is that we’ll play as fast as anyone in our conference, given the change in our personnel,” he said, referring primarily to speedy freshman point guard Jahii Carson. However, even with a new point guard who is most comfortable in the open court and a handful of athletic wings — given Sendek’s history — if that claim actually comes true it will represent a change in philosophy from the last 10 years of his coaching career. Note that last season, the most uptempo team in the Pac-12 conference, Oregon State, averaged 71.4 possessions per game. The team that played at the sixth fastest conference tempo was UCLA, averaging 66 possessions per game, representing roughly the median point in all of Division I. By comparison, only twice in the last decade of Sendek’s career has his team played at an adjusted tempo better than 66 possessions per game (according to, and not once over that span has his team broken the 67-possession barrier.



Adjusted Tempo

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North Carolina State




North Carolina State




North Carolina State



As the above table shows, Sendek’s history belies a coach who likes to play at a below-average tempo. His history over that span also shows a strategy that generally eschews offensive rebounding in favor of getting back and setting up a stingy halfcourt defense, supports an offense that is generally quite efficient and shoots the ball at a high percentage, while registering assists on a high percentage of shots and keeping turnover rates low. That’s what you think of when you think of a Sendek team.

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