Silver Fox Provides Silver Lining

Individual lockers in the new basketball facilities inside Wells Fargo Arena have silent motorized doors with palm pilot access, flat-screen monitors for game-playing or DVD-viewing and an all-important state-of-the-art ventilation system which makes it easier to air out stench in the room.

That system was put to the test Saturday in what arguably could be called the worst home loss of the Rob Evans era.

The stench won.

Arizona State's defense had been porous all season, but against Arizona on Saturday it was non-existent. The Sun Devils showed an inability to play collectively as a unit on that end of the court and even struggled mightily on an individual basis be in on the perimeter, off the dribble or in the post.

Offensively, the Sun Devils have faired relatively well against man-to-man defenses this season but combating zone schemes has been a different story entirely. Against zone looks Ike Diogu's teammates have been unable to get him the ball anywhere near the painted area with regularity.

More often than not Arizona State simply shuttles the ball from station to station on the perimeter and eventually attempts a relatively low-percentage three-point attempt.

On Saturday, Canyon Springs (CA) high school star and Top-25 national 2005 player Andre McGee was in the building as a guest of Arizona State on an unofficial visit along with a handful of future Division-one prospects from the Phoenix-area.

A design on showing these recruits a high-degree of basketball fluency against a high-quality team such as Arizona failed miserably. Ultimately, it may prove to be a colossal disaster, which pushes these recruits elsewhere.

However, a plausible byproduct of this blowout that at least deserves mention is the idea that it could go a long way towards showing recruits that they are, in fact, needed. If there is a silver lining to be mentioned, perhaps that could be it.

Or perhaps, there is another silver lining to be found; as in the actions of The Silver Fox, Lute Olson.

Whether it happens or not, if this Arizona State coaching staff is wise, by today there should be one final permanent addition to each and every individual player cubicle in the locker-room – a picture of Arizona coach Lute Olson pointing at the Wells Fargo Arena scoreboard.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but in this instance that image is indelible. It will never go away.

Nor should it.

Olson's momentary display of arrogant self-satisfaction should serve as a permanent rallying cry for this group and every Sun Devil squad to follow. What happened in the game on Saturday is the type of stuff that keeps a fighter down permanently. Olson's pointing at the scoreboard in the waning minutes is the smelling salt, which gets him up.

It has to be.

It is said that in life in order to truly appreciate the good you have to experience the bad, you have to live it and breath it and deal with it and understand it and then you have to flip it on its ear, turn a negative into a positive and never let go of what it took to get there.

Right now that's all Arizona State basketball has. It has an appreciation for what it feels like to be embarrassed, humiliated, and even violated on its own court. It has experienced the bad and must now savor it, relish it, re-live it, use it.

It is Lute Olson burned into the mental hard drive of a dozen or so athletes and it should be incongruously taped to the state-of-the art lockers, there to be seen at the beginning of each day of basketball and at the end as well.

In Heat, one of the great movies of the 1990's, Al Pacino's character, Vincent Hanna, returns to his home in the morning after a long night of work to find another man lounging with Hanna's wife in their pajamas. She's making her guest breakfast while he watches television. Upon discovering this, Hanna becomes enraged. "You can [sleep with] my wife if you want to, you can lounge around in her ex-husband's "post modernistic" [B.S.] house if you want to, but you can't watch my television," he screams. And with that, he rips the television out of the wall and eventually kicks it into the street from his vehicle at a stoplight.

If you remember the scene from that movie then you remember that this incident was the impetus for change in Pacino's character's life. At the end of the day, it took one of the worst things that could possibly happen to him -- his wife cheating on him -- for him to take action and accountability.

Now, if Rob Evans and his staff take the appropriate action, Arizona State has its own impetus for change and it has an impulsive Lute Olson to thank for it.

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