Arizona State Basketball Preview: #42
Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #4 Pacific 10
2008-09: 25-10, 11-7
2008-09 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Herb Sendek (54-45 at Arizona State, 308-203 overall)
Arizona State built their team around All-American James Harden and forward Jeff Pendergraph last season. Those two combined to average 34.6 points per game and Harden added 4.2 assists while Pendergraph led the team in rebounding and blocked shots. Those two are now gone and a bunch of former roleplayers have to step up and become leaders if the Sun Devils are going to go back to the NCAA Tournament.
Key Losses: G James Harden, F Jeff Pendergraph
Replacing Pendergraph will not be easy and there is no clear cut returning player who is going to take over the job. That leaves playing time open for newcomers Stephen Rogers, Alex English, Demetrius Walker, Victor Rudd and Ruslan Pateev. Rudd, a 6-7 forward from Los Angeles, California and Ruslan Pateev, a 7-0 Russian, are the two who are most likely to make an impact right away. Trent Lockett and Brandon Thompson will provide some depth in the backcourt. Lockett is a good athlete who can add a spark off the bench.
Derek Glasser started 33 games last year, averaging 8.8 points and 4.8 assists, but it was not until late in the season when he really showed that he can become a leader of this team. Glasser is a very consistent shooter and the backcourts top returning option, but there are others who are ready to step up and take over for Harden. Ty Abbott started last year and averaged 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds. His ability to rebound from the wing will be very important this year. Jamelle McMillan started a handful of games last year and is a steady ball handler and a consistent outside shooter. Jerren Shipp will battle with McMillan for a starting job and when Coach Herb Sendek needs somebody who can slash to the basket, he will call on Shipp.
Harden is not really replaceable, but at least the Sun Devils have options on the perimeter. Replacing Pendergraph is turning into a much bigger issue. Eric Boateng is the most experienced option and the former Duke transfer only averaged 8.2 minutes per game last year. He is a decent scorer when given the opportunity, but mostly ASU will need him to grab some rebounds and play solid defense. And hopefully he can stay on the floor for at least 20 minutes per game without getting into too much foul trouble. The 6-8 Taylor Rohde saw very few minutes as a freshman, but he is just as likely as any of the incoming freshmen to find playing time in the frontcourt.
Who to Watch:
Ideally, Rihards Kuksiks would play on the wing, but in this system he works perfect as a power forward. At least he worked well with Pendergraph. The 6-6 junior is a great outside shooter. He connected on 2.7 three-pointers per game and hit 44.3 percent of his attempts. Kuksiks rarely scores from anywhere besides beyond the arc, but he does do a decent job hitting the glass.
However, for Kuksiks to be a productive player, he needs somebody to clog the paint. If this team has to rely on Kuksiks to hit the glass and play in the paint, they are in deep trouble. That puts a lot of pressure on players like Boateng and Pateev to produce. The backcourt will carry this team, but without a threat in the paint, Arizona State’s talented shooters will not have any space to operate.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Derek Glasser, Senior, Guard, 8.8 points per game
Jamelle McMillan, Junior, Guard, 4.8 points per game
Ty Abbott, Junior, Guard, 7.1 points per game
Rihards Kuksiks, Junior, Guard, 10.3 points per game
Eric Boateng, Senior, Center, 1.8 points per game
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