ASU seeking first home league win

With a 1-6 Pac-10 record the Sun Devils have obviously experienced more heartache than satisfaction since the conference slate began. Nonetheless, in the last four games, albeit losing three out of four contests, there have certainly been some positives for the maroon and gold to build on.

As they host USC and UCLA this week, Arizona State would love nothing better than too to manifest the strides they recently made into league wins as they try and vacate the conference's basement.

Keeping even keel through good and bad times, has always been the philosophy of head coach Herb Sendek, and that attitude is still being practiced these days where the bottom line results could certainly have the potential to drive this group of Arizona State players into a state of despair.

"We always give the guys, win or lose, what we think is a very truthful dose of feedback," Sendek said. "We always try to identify the things we did well. We always try to identify the things we didn't do well. So we continue to teach so we can learn and improve. We just try to have a steady beat of that, win, lose or draw."

Sendek thought that his team's last outing, an 88-75 road loss to Washington, was one of the better games his squad has played this year in the Pac-10.

"I thought our guys showed pretty good competitive spirit," Sendek commented. "I think it was one of the better jobs we did on the backboard, at least competing for rebounds. I thought we did a pretty good job creating action and moving the ball on offense. So there were some positive things to take away from the Washington game.

"We still have to find ways to do better on defense."

Keala King is one player that has began to shine as the team improves. The road games last week at the Washington schools have been kind for the true freshman, who has largely been a disappointment in his inaugural campaign with the maroon and gold.

On the season he is averaging 2.7 points and 2.4 rebounds a game and has yet to make a three-point basket in 12 attempts. Versus Washington State last Thursday, King hauled in a team-high eight rebounds, and against Washington he posted four points and two rebounds.

"It's not what he showed me during the time out there (in the two games), it's what he showed me to earn the time," Sendek explained. "I think he has been making an extra special effort to do the things we are asking him and be better. I see a young man who is really trying and somebody who is making progress. He put himself in position by doing a better job of the things we are asking him to do, to earn that playing time notwithstanding the guys we had out.

"It comes down to having the right approach every day, working hard, and doing all the things that a good teammate does to help make his guys better. I just think his whole approach to college basketball over the last two weeks has been much better. He's really trying and I feel really good about that."

Despite its recent struggles, Sendek stated that he hasn't seen any decrease in effort or focus throughout this trying Pac-10 campaign.

"I see guys, if anything, tightening their seat belts and really trying to pull together and get better," Sendek remarked. "That's one thing I really do like about our team's mindset that allowed us to compete the way we did against Washington. Yesterday (Monday) we returned to practice and honestly you would never have known if we were undefeated or not. There was very good energy in the gym.

"I like our guys a lot and I enjoy working with them. So from that standpoint it really has been a good season for me as a coach. It hasn't resulted into wins in our league, but I am invigorated every day working with our guys on the court."

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