Arizona State Sun Devils
Pacific 10 (19-12, 9-9)
Big Wins: 12/15 Xavier (77-55), 2/10 at Arizona (59-54), 2/14 Stanford (72-68)
Bad Losses: 11/19 at Illnois (54-77), 1/24 Washington (61-72), 2/16 California (73-76)
Coach: Herb Sendek
Derek Glasser, Sophomore, Guard, 6.3 ppg, 4.0 apg
Ty Abbott, Freshman, Guard, 9.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg
James Harden, Freshman, Guard, 17.6 ppg, 3.1 apg, 5.0 rpg
Rihards Kuksiks, Freshman, Guard, 5.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Jeff Pendergraph, Junior, Forward, 12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg
Jerren Shipp, Sophomore, Guard, 6.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Jamelle McMillan, Freshman, Guard, 2.4 ppg, 2.1 apg
Christian Polk, Sophomore, Guard, 3.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg
Eric Boateng, Sophomore, Center, 3.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
The amazing turnaround for Arizona State starts with the solid inside-outside combination of James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. Harden, a 6-4 guard, averages a team high 17.6 points per game. The lefty has a smooth stroke and can knock down the three-point shot with ease. However, it is his aggressive and quick steps to the basket that make him such a dangerous scorer. Harden reaches the free-throw line nearly seven times per game and he knocks down nearly 76 percent of his attempts.
Pendergraph is the lone interior scoring threat. He averages 12.5 points and a team high 6.5 rebounds per contest. The 6-9 junior has some nice post moves and must continue to provide a consistent threat under the basket in order to open up the floor for Harden and the rest of the guards. Foul trouble can be an issue for Pendergraph and there is not much depth behind him. Former Duke transfer Eric Boateng averages about 11 minutes per game and he is the only other true post player who the Sun Devils can bring in when Pendergraph is forced to the bench.
Why They Can Disappoint:
With what is practically a four guard starting lineup, rebounding has been a problem for Coach Herb Sendek’s squad. Pendergraph and Harden are the only two players who grab more than four boards a game. Four guards also cause a problem stopping to opposition from getting to the basket. Pendergraph is a decent shot blocker, but with no weak side help to speak of, teams can feel relatively safe scoring in the paint. But the biggest issue of all is the youth of the Sun Devils. Nine players see significant minutes and eight of them are underclassmen. Four of those are freshmen. They have obviously performed quite well up to this point, but the pressure builds in March.
Who To Watch:
Harden and Pendergraph will score, but ASU will need the rest of the team to put up some points. The usual answer is the sharpshooting Ty Abbott. The freshman is a great three-point shooter. However, if the shot is not falling for Abbott, he has trouble scoring in other ways at this point in his career. Point guard Derek Glasser usually sticks to distributing the ball, which he does very well, as opposed to looking to score. Part-time starter Jerren Shipp and wing Rihards Kuksiks, who usually mans the four spot, take most of their shots from beyond the arc and need to look to get to the basket a little more. However, Kuksiks is pretty much only on the floor to shoot and he does it very well when he gets on a roll.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.3 (209th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.3 (43, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.5 (57, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.2 (54, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.1 (127, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.6 (145, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.1 (35, 4)
Rebound Margin: -0.5 (196, 8)
Assists Per Game: 14.4 (100, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.8 (51, 7)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Second Round loss to Southern Illinois
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