Lockett expected back in lineup

There is nothing quite like the return of a player who has the potential and drive to lead his team to victory. After an ankle injury sidelined him for the last six games Arizona State (7-16, 3-8 Pac-12) is expected to have junior Trent Lockett back on the court as soon as Thursday.

Although some players, such as Jordan Bachynski, Jonathan Gilling and Chris Colvin seemed to be largely unmarred by his absence, the Sun Devils as a team were just 1-5 without Trent Lockett.

The junior guard announced Tuesday that he was likely to play in Thursday's home game against Utah. "Getting better everyday," he said in reference to his ankle. "Last week we made some really good progress. I just want to help the team in anyway possible, whatever that entails."

"He's been tremendous," Coach Herb Sendek commented on Lockett's great attitude throughout his injury. "He's basically lived in the training room getting treatment. He's been as diligent as you can be.

"Even with our guys he's continued to have a great voice in the locker room and on the buss. In practice he's up and around, encouraging and instructing the guys. His leadership hasn't missed a beat."

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As the team's leading scorer and rebounder (averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest) most would assume it was difficult for him to sit back and watch these recent tough losses by the Devils.

Nonetheless, Lockett remained positive.

"It's tough but there's nothing I can do about it," Lockett acknowledged, "so I'm not going to get frustrated over it. All I can do is help my teammates the best I can and work on getting back."

Lockett mentioned that being sidelined for the past few weeks, has given him a fresh point of view on the game and this is something he plans to use for his benefit.

"It's definitely a different perspective watching the games from the bench," Lockett remarked, "and sitting next to coach. The little things I've taken from that I plan on implementing in upcoming games."

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It is currently unknown how much Lockett will be able to contribute as he returns back to action. In Monday's practice, he was part of the 5-on-0 drills with no contact, and said that he was pleased with his ankle felt after practice, as well as today.

Coach Sendek is thrilled to see him back in action but is also unsure of what to expect from him performance wise. "We are now in excess of three weeks since he's done anything," Sendek stated. "Riding the stationary bike is a far cry from playing Pac-12 basketball. There is no conditioning that perfectly simulates what you do in basketball, it's unique.

"We'll just have to see what his legs are like, his conditioning, and see how his ankle feels."

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Even with Lockett back on the court, the team likely won't be playing to their full potential as Sendek mentioned that freshman forward, Jonathan Gilling has re-injured his left thumb on Monday and will miss the next couple of practices.

Out with the flu, junior guard, Chris Colvin will be out of practice these next few days as well.

With those elements working against them, it seems to be more important now than ever, that the team push themselves and really step up to fill the shoes of their absent teammates. This was certainly the case for sophomore forward, Kyle Cain in last weekend's game against Cal, with 18 points and 9 rebounds coming off the bench.

"He had good energy and gave us a lift much the same way that Jordan gave against Stanford," Sendek commented. "What we need though is everybody playing at or near their highest level of capability on a consistent basis."

Looking forward to Thursday night's game against Utah, Sendek turns the teams focus from their competitors to themselves.

"We're really focused on ourselves as much as anything and what we need to do to continue to get better," Sendek said. "Obviously, both of these teams had their way with us earlier in the season and we're going to be challenged to compete with them Thursday and Saturday.

"We're focused on Arizona State."


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