Arizona State Sun Devils
Head Coach: Herb Sendek
Last Season’s Results: Conf. 9-10 (5th), Overall 21-13. Post Season: NIT Tournament
Backcourt: Expect to see a 3-guard lineup out of the Sun Devils this year featuring Harden, Glasser, and Abbott.
While Glasser and Abbott are both serviceable guard, Harden is the star here. Harden is a strong candidate for First Team All PAC-10 and PAC-10 Player of the Year. He’s lightening quick and can explode to the basket. This guy has NBA written all over him.
With a three-guard lineup, Harden will likely draw the difficult task of defending the small forward position. That could spell danger for the Sun Devils’ pressure defense as the taller forwards will have an easier time seeing passing lanes against the smaller guard.
Frontcourt: ASU and Jeff Pendergraph have a “Help Wanted” sign posted for help in their frontcourt. Will Taylor Rohde step up and be the alarming freshman who fills the role? Frankly, it looks like more woes in the frontcourt for ASU as Rihards Kuksiks will likely play PF with Pendergraph at center again this year. Sendek will need this resolved by the time the Sun Devils travel to the SoCal area in January.
Bench: ASU will run several different players off the bench simply as ‘stop gaps’ to give guys a blow. Jarren Shipp, Johnny Coy, and Taylor Rhode look to be the only ones who will have much impact. Eric Boateng needs to improve beyond being a role player, but will see decent minutes regardless. Christian Polk will also see some playing time, but won’t see significant minutes.
Key Departures: Arizona State returns their entire roster with the exception of Antwi Atuahene who accounted for a meager 2.5% of the Sun Devils’ scoring.
PF- Taylor Rohde has the potential to develop into another solid big man for the Sun Devils. He won’t average 29.5 ppg as he did his senior year in high school, but should be a good role and bench player for the Sun Devils in his freshman year.
SF- Johnny Coy - Coy is ranked 23rd among incoming small forwards this year. He has a soft touch with decent range, moves well without the ball, and can finish with contact.
*Click on linked recruit names for highlight video.
Strengths: Jeff Pendergraph and James Harden return to Tempe this season along with 45% of the Sun Devils’ scoring from last season. Harden and Pendergraph provide a nice inside-out game. Pendergraph and Harden are the heart of this team and get better every year.
Weaknesses: The Sun Devils will continue to struggle this year if Harden or Pendergraph are off their game or on the bench for lengthy periods of time. The Sun Devils have a lot of decent role players, but unfortunately they lack one more offensive threat. ASU also lacks depth in the post and need to find some help for Pendergraph on the low blocks.
Nov. 18 @ San Diego State
Nov. 27 @ Charlotte in the Anaheim Classic
Jan 15 @ UCLA
Jan 17 @ USC
Jan 21 @ Arizona
Outlook: The Sun Devils are in a crucial season as they will likely lose Pendergraph and Harden after the season and need to make a statement that Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils are for real. The authenticity of the team won’t be challenged until mid January when they have a three straight games on the road against the top teams in the PAC-10 (UCLA, USC, and UofA). Pendergraph and Harden are good enough to carry this team to a top five finish in the PAC-10.
Projected Finish: Second in the PAC-10, Top 25 Ranking, NCAA Tournament Berth.