#37 Arizona St: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #37
Conference Rank: #2 Pacific 10 Conference
2009-10: 22-11, 12-6
2009-10 postseason: NIT
Coach: Herb Sendek (76-56 at Arizona State, 330-214 overall)
Coach Herb Sendek weathered the loss of two great players following the 2008-2009 campaign and still managed to win 22 games and finish second in the Pac-10. Thus, replacing Eric Boateng and Derek Glasser should not be that big of a concern. Coach Sendek is continuing to build this program and the Sun Devils were on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament last season. If they can find a big man to at least play some defense, they will get to the big dance this year.
Key Losses: C Eric Boateng, G Derek Glasser, G Jerren Shipp, G Demetrius Walker
The backcourt has more than enough weapons; it is the frontcourt that needs some bodies who are ready to contribute right away. Whether or not ASU got those players is the big question. Jordan Bachynski is a big 7-2, 245 pounder and Kyle Cain is a tough power forward, but how many minutes those two freshmen will be ready to play is a concern. With such a small team, a player like junior college transfer Carrick Felix or redshirt freshman Chanse Creekmur could spend some time at the four spot instead of their more natural small forward position. The most talented newcomers are in the backcourt. Corey Hawkins and Brandon Dunson will give the team some quality depth, but it is Keala King who is the star of this class. The 6-5 point guard could be starting sooner rather than later, especially since Coach Sendek had success running a two point guard system last season.
For the time being, Jamelle McMillan will run the show. He did a fine job teaming up with Glasser in the backcourt last year and is certainly capable of handling the job himself after averaging 2.8 assists and a mere 1.1 turnovers per contest. McMillan is also a fine outside shooter and that is always tough for the opposition to defend. Speaking of shooters, nobody quite shoots like Ty Abbott. The 6-3 guard hoisted up six long balls per contest last season. That may seem like a lot, but nobody will complain since he connected on 40.4 percent of his attempts. Abbott will not attack the basket too much, but as long as his shot is falling, he can put up some big numbers. Trent Lockett had a solid freshman campaign as a part-time starter. Lockett is a decent scorer around the basket and could emerge as a fine player if he develops some consistency as a sophomore.
Rihards Kuksiks is not your typical power forward. In reality, he is a tall shooting guard who has no choice but to play at the four spot on this team. Kuksiks led the squad with 12.1 points per game and shot even more long balls than Abbott. Unfortunately for Arizona State, Kuksiks spends a lot of time on the perimeter and the 6-6, 210 pound senior has trouble on the glass. Kuksiks will score a lot of points and do a great job scoring and a decent job playing defense, but the lack of size on this team is a big problem. Last season Boateng could make up for the lack of size at the four spot. Not only did Boateng easily lead the team with 7.2 rebounds per game, but he also created opportunities for the rest of the team by emerging as consistent interior scorer.
Who to Watch:
Ruslan Pateev has the unenviable job of trying to hold down the frontcourt. The 7-0, 231 pound sophomore will not have to score as much as Boateng since the rest of the team can handle that, but he will need to develop into a consistent rebounder and a decent defender. For a sophomore who averaged a mere 8.3 minutes in 20 contests last season, that is asking a lot.
If Pateev or one of the newcomers can handle some of the defensive and rebounding responsibilities, this will be a dangerous Arizona State team. There are plenty of scorers and Coach Sendek’s match up zone defense should be just as effective as it was last season. Add a year of experience for all of the talented scorers and that adds up to a good finish for the Sun Devils in what should be a down season for the Pac-10.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jamelle McMillan, Senior, Guard, 6.6 ppg
Ty Abbott, Senior, Guard, 12.0 ppg
Trent Lockett, Sophomore, Guard, 6.7 ppg
Rihards Kuksiks, Senior, Guard, 12.1 ppg
Ruslan Pateev, Sophomore, Center, 2.0 ppg
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