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Everything Old is New Again: Arizona State

Fired Up ASU Coach You Played Like Poop 4/1/2009 (via simpsonetter)

An absurdly early look at the 2009-10 Pac 10 Basketball season. Each team will be scrutinized in a ruthlessly clinical fashion, and a final post will wrap up the predicted final standings at the end of the season. For no particular reason I decided to go in alphabetical order, so second on the list is up start Arizona State.

Key Returners: Rihards Kuksiks (10.3 PPG, 61.6 eFG%), Derek Glasser (8.8 PPG, 50.7 eFG%, 4.8 APG)

Key Losses: James Harden (20.1 PPG, 55.3 eFG%, 4.2 APG), Jeff Pendergraph (14.5 PPG, 66.0 eFG%, 8.2 RPG)

Key Recruits: Trent Lockett (UR ESPN 100, #73 Rivals 150)

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG Derek Glasser
SG Ty Abbott
SG Jamelle McMillan
SF Rihards Kuksiks
C Eric Boateng
6th Man Jerren Shipp

The Lowdown: Its difficult to imagine what life will be like in a post James Harden/Jeff Pendergraph world. No longer will our television screens be graced by the sort of Ginobili-esque play of college basketball's highest IQ player, nor will we get to delight in the repeated top of the key screens and put back dunks of the player so fondly called Pendergrass by tongue twisted announcers. Truly that unceremonius 2nd round exit at the hands of Syracuse cut short the careers of two of the Pac 10's best players, and left a hole in the hearts of hoops fans everywhere. But seriously, aside from all of the overwrought hyperbole and flourish it is a pretty big deal that ASU is losing its two most ruthlessly efficient players and in the process must find a way to make do with a roster filled with no true stars or impact players.

Speaking of leaving holes in things, the biggest issue that Herb Sendek will have to deal with next year is the huge gaping hole left in the paint. Technically former Dukie Eric Boateng is a McDonald's All-American, but he sure hasn't played like one and is entering his final year of eligibility off of a season where the 6'10" center averaged only 1.8 PPG and 2.0 RPG despite a relatively thin front court. There are a number of 6'8"-6'9" guys riding the bench, but none of them averaged more than a minute or so of playing time per game. And to top it off, the Sun Devils lost out the recruiting battle too Arizona for big man Kyryl Natyazhko. ASU has a number of quality shooters, but its hard to make a living bombing threes when your team has literally zero interior presence and the team's best slasher is headed of to the NBA to make his millions.

So it seems as though hoops success will be somewhat on the horizon once again for Arizona State, but at least they aren't looking at a season of futility like the 06-07 version of themselves. To be sure, there is decent experience and strong shooters returning to the squad, but the talent equilibrium has tipped against their favor. Who knows for sure though, and much of the problems that face State this off season are similar to that of Cal before this past season. Still though, take a look at that (potential) starting five and just try to tell me that group is a consistently winning team. Its a group of players that could upset teams if they have a good shooting night, but from top to bottom the lineup presents a number of defensive liabilities and little in the way of players that could be described as dynamic.

So is where does Herb Sendek stand among the pantheon of quality Pac 10 Hoops coaches? Turning a relative doormat into a conference power in two short years certainly merits a lot of praise, but actually keeping the team at the top will be the true litmus test. Only the next couple of years will say for sure.

Magic 8 Ball Says: "...ARIZONA STATE!?" "Concentrate and ask again"

Update: 6'8" Combo forward Victor Rudd is set to sign with ASU. Don't be surprised if he earns a starting role due to his size and raw athleticism. You can read about Rudd here.