Q&A with Jeff Pendergraph

The ASU basketball team may be an extremely young squad, but they can surely tout having one the best sophomores in the nation. In 2005-06, Jeff Pendergraph had a solid debut in the maroon and gold, and this year he's the team leader in the new Herb Sendek era. The forward talked about his expectations for the upcoming year and the adjustments that have been made under the new coaching regime.

Q: With a couple of weeks of practice under your belt, how are you feeling right now?

A: "I feel good, I feel positive, but I know we have a lot of work ahead of us. But I feel that we're moving forward. Practices are tough, but it's not like you're lying on the floor all exhausted after practice. When you work hard and do well in practice, you don't feel tired."

Q: When you started practices under Coach Sendek, what was the first eye-opening thing for you?

A: "That this is gonna be hard. It's not simple having to learn all new terms. Every part of the game is broken down, it's not like go here or cut there. We know why we're supposed to do this or that. We want to do so well, but we're still not getting it right. It's frustrating and we have to memorize a whole dictionary on his offense. But we're picking it up."

Q: Even though you're a sophomore, do you feel like a freshman again with the new coaches and new terminology?

A: "Yeah, there's a lot of adjustment and everything feels new. Players that did certain things last year are asked to do totally different things this year. Last year, a lot of people didn't know who a lot of the players are on our team were. Now that we have a new coach, we have to figure out how we're gonna play in the system, but other teams have to figure us out too. It's brand new for everybody."

Q: What aspects of your game have you improved on from last year?

A: "I worked on everything. I would probably really able to tell once we play the games. I did put on a couple of pounds – I'm 230 and I'm more solid. I eat all the time and it all goes through me (laughs)."

Q: What have you seen from the freshmen that have come in?

A: "I think some of them bring some stuff that we lost with some of the players leaving. Jerren Shipp can definitely shoot from outside. Christian Polk is a leader in training right now. George Odufuwa is a tough guy that goes after every rebound and muscles everybody. Derek Glasser is a fundamental good point guard that's also a leader. So, every player brings something to the team."

Q: Being that you had such a great season last year, is there anything you pass along to them in terms of advice and how to be successful?

A: "I just tell them that it isn't like high school where you go out and have 40 points a game. That's rare in college. It's a team thing. You can't get frustrated when things go bad, and you can't just stand there and bask in the glory when things go well, you have to get back on defense."

Q: Even though there's a lot of excitement around the team with the new coaching staff, a lot of people aren't expecting big things from ASU this season. What are you thoughts on this?

A: "This is just like last year. When Ike left the team, people were questioning us and now they're doing it again with a new coach. But we know how good we are and what we have to do. We're gonna come in as underdogs and when everybody expects us to fail, we'll prove them wrong. We're not overconfident thinking we'll beat everyone because they think we're sorry, but we'll play as hard as we can and maybe teams don't expect that from us and that will give us a chance to win."

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