A learning curve often takes place as players learn their new roles and how to play with each other. While it'd be a mistake to assume this year's Sun Devils won't have their share of growing pains, this close-knit group is out to demonstrate how their team camaraderie and work ethic will help define the 2010-11 campaign.
"I think with this team it's different than any team I've ever been on," Dunson said. "I think from the start, not even as far as basketball-wise, just hanging out as friends and stuff, I think everybody gets along. We're not cliquey and I think that's going to help a lot when we get to practicing. I think that the chemistry and friendship that everyone has created throughout the summer and up until now is going to help us a lot on the court."
Even though Dunson is one of these first-year players trying to adjust to the various team aspects he realizes that as a point guard it's still up to him to help lead by example regardless of his experience level.
"I'm a hard worker," Dunson commented. "I'm an unselfish guy. I try to do the right things. I think the team is the same way. Everyone's unselfish and that makes it a lot more fun playing with these guys. Everything we do on and off the court we think about the team first. I really like that about this team."
Beyond just bonding as a group, Dunson noted that each member of the team has spent an incredible amount of time this summer mentally and physically preparing for the upcoming season. Conditioning has been the main focus for many players on the team as there have been many indications that this year's Sun Devil squad will look to push the tempo more than in past years.
"Team's been working real hard in the skills that we've been able to do and the weight room," Dunson said. "We're in good condition. Just ready to get it going. I think everybody has improved a lot on everything. The newcomers were able to get used to the weights during the summer and then it has carried over into the fall. With the skill work we've gotten to learn a lot of what coach Sendek and his staff like as far as individuals and the team in general; both on offense and defense."
Since his arrival in the desert, defense has been the cornerstone to head coach Herb Sendek's ASU teams. The match-up zone has been kind to the Sun Devils and a nightmare for its opponents. It's no secret that players who pick up on the complex defensive scheme are given the primary share of minutes in the rotation. Luckily for Dunson, he already feels comfortable playing this defensive scheme.
"Honestly I haven't had much trouble with it," Dunson claimed. "But my dad was my AAU coach and we played the match-up zone a lot. Defense has always just come natural to me. Actually, everybody has been picking it pretty well. And with leaders like Ty (Abbott), Jamelle (McMillan), and Rik (Rihards Kuksiks) it has been easy. They've been helping everyone out. And the others, like Trent (Lockett) and Ruslan (Pateev), have been talking to us a lot about it. Whenever we have questions we just go to them and they help us out."
The transfer from Wabash Valley Community College comes to the Sun Devils already as an upperclassman with some experience under his belt. Despite being just one more new face on the team, Dunson will surely be looked upon to demonstrate leadership at times throughout the season. Thus far, it's a role that he feels comfortable in with the group of guys around him.
"With my teammates it hasn't been hard at all," Dunson noted. "On this team, everybody is a leader. Everybody is a follower as well. We all take criticism and we take advice from others. Everybody has been real responsive to my leadership. Jamelle's a great leader on the team and Ty...everybody. It hasn't been hard at all."
While grasping the leadership reigns of the team hasn't been difficult for Brandon since arriving in Tempe, the point guard was quick to point out that there has been some minor adjusting he's had to do over the summer while getting ready for a full season of competitive PAC-10 basketball.
"The biggest thing that I've had to learn is the details," Dunson explained. "At this level you have to be much more detailed at everything that you do. You have to make sure you're attempting to do everything perfect and not to take a play off. Everything that you do, act like it's a game situation. Whether it's 5 on 0, or you're in the gym alone working out; just act like it's a game situation and go as hard as you can."
Dunson comes to the Sun Devils as highly explosive point guard with incredible athletic ability, which is evident by his 44-inch vertical. With his quickness on the dribble and accuracy on his jump shot, Dunson ought to be able to create for himself and for others this season.
"Being as athletic as I am, I'll be able to get through defenses," Dunson said. "With our personnel, we got shooters and we got penetrators. So any time I drive I can kick it. We got athletes that can just run out and get it too on fast break situations. We got everything. Our bigs can get out and run. And we got other guards that bring it up and handle it too when we don't fast break. I think that'll help a lot. Everybody on this team can shoot."
So will all this new athleticism and conditioning lead to an up tempo Sun Devil offense in 2010-11?
"We're going to push it," Dunson said with devilish grin. "We're going to be under control, but we're going to push it. We're going to run and shoot. We got the athletes. We got the personnel and the coaches have really gotten us ready with all the conditioning. We're going to be running up and down. We'll be under control. We'll be at our own pace but we'll be pretty fast this year.
"I think we just got to go out there and go hard. I think we've got great talent and I know we have great coaching. We don't have a lot of experience, but we have great returning experience. We return five great guys. As long as we keep going hard I think the sky is the limit."