Even Keel Defines Sun Devils

Last week ASU fans were full of jubilation over the team's first Pac-10 win. On the other hand, disappointment, maybe even frustration was the mood amongst the ASU faithful after a narrow loss to Arizona. Yet, if one would try to gage the mood of the players, it would be hard to witness polar opposites of emotions.

"I felt that all week you could have walked around here, bumped into guys, stumbled into out locker room and you wouldn't know the difference between this past week and any of the previous ones," said Head Coach Herb Sendek. "Our guys have been very consistent. Obviously, we were pleased to win, but there was nobody skipping down the hall. It was pretty much ‘next practice, next game.' Conversely, when we weren't coming off a win, you didn't see anybody's chin dragging on the floor…it's certainly not a great leap to say that we weren't completely fulfilled or satisfied with the win over USC. We wanted with all our heart to beat Arizona and play well again."

The Arizona game was seen nationally and the spirit that the Sun Devils have shown didn't go unnoticed. "I received phone calls," remarked Sendek, "emails, all kinds of correspondence around the country talking about the effort our men are displaying…so that's a real positive."

Granted, a team usually won't play at the same level for 40 minutes. However, the timing of a lull can usually be detrimental to a team's chances of success. "We just give ourselves little margin for error when we don't capitalize on open shot opportunities," Sendek noted. "With just under four minutes to go there was as stretch there where we didn't execute and didn't play with our heads. It wasn't a long period of time and in the grand scheme of things it was a flash. But it was enough for the lead to go from three to nine, with just a little bit of time left before the end of the game. It just seems that those things for us right now are the difference for us. We have to attend to details better."

Struggles on the perimeter, can naturally affect the inside game, namely feeding Jeff Pendergraph down low. "Every team chooses what they're gonna defend and what they're gonna take away," explained Sendek. "I thought we did a good job finding Jeff in the area that he was open, and they (Arizona) did a good job on him in the low post. Sometimes other guys can make it easier by putting the ball in the basket consistently and then they have to readjust their thinking on some other guys."

On Thursday, ASU will visit Stanford, and Sendek sees a difficult challenge awaiting his squad. "I think Stanford is another outstanding team in our conference," he noted. "Their front court is anchored by the Lopez twins, and Taj Finger who's an underrated player in our league, is extremely formidable. They have the ability to use (Lawrence) Hill, who is as versatile as any player in the Pac-10, at the four (spot) which creates match-up challenges for opponents, or slide him to the three which does the same exact thing. Their perimeter people are solid…they're really a well-balanced team and enjoying a good year."

Not only is the team expected to be significantly better in the next year or two with an infusion of talent, but their home court should be improved as well. Sendek isn't personally involved in the project, but knows that the ASU Athletic administration is discussing options. "Whether it will be transformed for this year of the year after, I think we can expect change," he said. "It's just a matter of timing, because we want to do it the right way. We are gonna have a face lift and it's an exciting time to be part of our program because of the evolution we're gonna experience." He added that the student section moving to a different area is open for consideration, but it won't be done in isolation bit rather in conjunction with the other changes that will take place.

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