Arizona State Sun Devils
Overall Rank: #100
Conference Rank: #9 Pac-10
2006-07: 8-22, 2-16, 10th
2006-07 postseason: none
Arizona State had some obvious struggles during the 2006-2007 campaign, but it can only get better this year. Forward Jeff Pendergraph is a superb talent and will have to lead the way once again. The 6-9 junior averaged 12.1 points and 9.1 rebounds last year and reaching the double-double plateau is within his grasp. With some talent developing around him, Arizona State has the building blocks for the future.
The main problem for the Sun Devils is the depth up front. Allen Morill, Serge Angounou, Sylvester Seay, Bruno Claudino and George Odufuwa all spent a little time at the forward positions last year, but are not returning this year. Morill and Angounou, who combined for 30 starts in 2006-2007, are the big losses. Seay and Odufuwa are transferring to Fresno State and North Texas, respectively. Seldom used guard Robby Alridge has also run out of eligibility.
Eric Boateng, a transfer from Duke, will play a pivotal role for the Sun Devils. The 6-10 sophomore played in 20 games during the 2005-2006 campaign for the Blue Devils. Boateng, a former McDonald’s All-American and only the third ever to attend ASU, will likely start at the center spot. With Boateng at the five, Pendergraph will slide to the four and depth behind them will be a major issue. Incoming freshman Kraidon Woods is a big body who can fill some minutes, but it is unlikely he will be ready to contribute too much as a freshman. Rihards Kuksiks is known for his long range shooting, but the 6-6 small forward has the strength to see some time as an undersized four when the frontcourt needs to reach way down the depth chart…which they will. Walk-on Chad Goldstein, a 6-9 power forward, could even be in the mix after sitting out last year with an injury. The highly touted players coming in are on the perimeter. Shooting guard James Harden is one of the best in the nation. He has terrific range and a smooth left handed shot and, if he does not crack the starting lineup, will be a great spark off the bench. Point guard Jamelle McMillian will not do a lot of scoring, but he is a magnificent defender and will control the tempo of the game. Ty Abbott will add some more depth on the wings and cements this class as one of the best in the nation.
Who to Watch:
The only problem with the newcomers is the sudden log jam of talent on the perimeter. It is not a bad problem to have, especially with the system Coach Herb Sendek is running in Tempe, but having a little depth up front would be helpful. The backcourt already has a trio of youngsters in sophomores Christian Polk, Jerren Shipp and Derek Glasser. Polk is the team’s most dangerous long range threat; well at least he took the most shots from downtown and only connected on 31.5 percent of them. Despite the poor field goal percentage, Polk is the best scoring threat on the perimeter. Shipp and senior Antwi Atuahene are decent slashers and will do most of their damage around the basket. Glasser proved to be an effective point guard as a freshman. Most of the Sun Devils turnover problems were not his fault and with a year of experience under his belt, Glasser is expected to run the team more efficiently. The battle for playing time on the perimeter will be fierce and the coaching staff may mix things up a bit if this year’s freshmen can shoot better than last year’s freshmen.
Arizona State was thrown into a very bad situation just before the 2006-2007 season began. They lost their top two players with virtually no time to adjust and it took a long, long time to recover. By the end of the season Coach Sendek seemed to have pulled things together as much as possible. After losing 15 straight games, the Sun Devils finished the season winning two of their last five in impressive fashion over a good USC team and at California. That is not saying too much, but as long as ASU builds off the wins and not the losses, this year’s team will not finish last in the conference. They will not be close to the top either, but it is a small step in the right direction.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Derek Glasser, Sophomore, Guard, 6.3 points per game
Christian Polk, Sophomore, Guard, 12.0 points per game
Jerren Shipp, Sophomore, Guard, 7.6 points per game
Jeff Pendergraph, Junior, Forward, 12.1 points per game
Eric Boateng, Sophomore, Center, DNP last season