Improvement is Evident to Pendergraph

A 4-3 record may not be a feat that will make Arizona State basketball fans glee. Yet, those who have followed the maroon and gold the last four games have seen a resilient team that has won three of it last four contests. Optimism is certainly in the air and Jeff Pendergraph is not oblivious to it.

"I'm very pleased, we're on the up and up were getting better all the time," sophomore forward Jeff Pendergraph said. "We lost some games we didn't want to lose but it's our first year together with our brand new coach, I'm happy with how were doing."

Happy he should be. The Maroon and Gold have turned up the heat and intensity ever since their first win over a Division I opponent, San Jose State, on November 18 going 3-1 since that contest including a shocking upset over Iowa. Jeff credits the squad's improvement to first-year Coach Herb Sendek who has been very helpful and patient with this young team.

"Coach Sendek is a very interesting guy, he is like a professor. He has everything broken down," the forward explained. "When I talk to him about how we're doing lately and the games we have lost of and how it is frustrating, he tells me this is how it is our first year is going to be - up and down. We're probably not going to win as much as we would like to, but teams that are going to play us aren't going to like to play us."

That statement by the ASU coach has already rung true. Just ask Iowa who had a comfortable 12-point lead with six minutes remaining, but saw it slip away ending in a torrid Sun Devil comeback and upset victory. Minnesota was another team that looked on its way to an easy win over the Devils, leading by nearly 20 points with less than eight minutes left in the game, just to escape with a three-point win. "When we came back that was one of the big things coach talked about now of the good notes," Pendergraph said after the Minnesota loss. "We have a high capacity team and that was a big plus. We may be down 20 or 30 but don't sleep on us because we can come back."

After starting the season 1-2, the team's resurgence has been due to the players' adjustment to Sendek and in turn the skipper adjusting to the team. This is especially applicable to Pendergraph, who was drawing double and triple team defensive attention. "In the beginning I was (trying to adjust) because I wasn't doubled teamed in forever, but now I'm getting used to it." Ever since the team has experienced its resurrection, the forward has been able to improve his production. In the past four games, Pendergraph is averaging 11.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Now with another tough away game, this Saturday against Xavier, the sophomore relishes the challenge since the Sun Devils haven't played the past two weeks and he feels extremely assured of his team's abilities. "We're pretty confident right now," he noted. "We're not cocky. We know we have a lot of work to do but we're not happy with losing and getting our butts kicked all the time. Attitude is everything. We want to prove everyone wrong that were not going to be the bottom of the Pac-10 getting our butts kicked."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories