ASU Basketball Season Review

It was a long season in the desert for first-year head coach Herb Sendek. After leading NC State to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments, Sendek took his successful resume to Arizona State where he was convinced he could turn the downtrodden Sun Devil program around and turn them into a Pac-10 force. No one thought it would happen overnight and thus ASU was expected to struggle this season.

After losing Kevin Kruger to transfer and Bryson Krueger to legal troubles, the Sun Devils were entering the season without their two leading scorers from the year before. ASU had four freshmen come in and with a weak returning cast; Sendek was forced to throw all of them into the mix.

The team played suffocating defense all season long but was doomed by offensive incapability. The season was a tough one to endure but many things that happened led the Sun Devil followers to believe that great things are absolutely in stored for ASU basketball. Consequently, the crowds at Wells Fargo Arena grew in numbers and enthusiasm and created one of the most ruckus home court environments Tempe has seen in years. With the arrival of highly-rated recruits to go along with Duke transfer, C Eric Boateng, rapid improvements should be evident in a very short time.

Here's a look at how the various players faired this season:


In the beginning of the season, Derek Glasser had trouble adjusting to the speed of the college game but down the stretch he really came into his own and gained more confidence with the ball in his hands. He had a solid assist to turnover ratio, which considering the long minutes he was logging in Pac-10 play is a remarkable feat for a true freshman. At times he was a dependable outside shooter beyond the arc. What he lacked in athleticism, especially on defense, he made up with basketball smarts.

Christian Polk was the team's second leading scorer (12.0 PPG) and the only real slashing threat, as well as the most consistent shooter on the team. Nonetheless, as expected this true freshman certainly had his peaks and valleys this season. Clearly the most athletic player on the team, Polk was counted on heavily for offensive production, which ultimately was taxing for the for the first-year player. The local guard from Glendale was often Sendek's go-to-guy in late game situations. He knocked down a game-winning three to beat Iowa and another shot beyond the arc sent a home game against Cal into overtime. The arrival of blue chip recruit James Harden can only benefit Polk who will undoubtedly be asked to shoulder less of the offense, and in turn blossom into a more consistent and polished contributor.

Jerren Shipp started the season off on fire scoring 23 points in the season opener against NAU and then scoring 33 in the three games thereafter. All in all, early on the true freshman from Los Angeles looked like he was going to be a star in the making. Yet after teams scouted his strengths and weaknesses, along with probably hitting the proverbial "freshman wall", he was exploited and scored in double digits only six more times in the last 26 games. On the other hand he did finish the season strong, and much like Polk could thrive next year when he's asked to do less.

Antwi Atuahene started off the season shaky and found himself coming off the bench later in the season. He began the year as the starting point guard, but as a reserve he was seldom asked to handle the ball as often (see Glasser's 30 plus minutes per game in Pac-10 play). He did however find his niche on both ends of the floor, and he used his strength to post up smaller guards in the paint and be a formidable rebounder on both defense and offense. His leadership is cannot be understated, especially on such a young squad as ASU's.

Steve Jones was an instant crowd favorite and a player that Sendek truly appreciated. He pestered opponents with his hustle and intensity, and got the most out of the limited minutes he played.

Senior Robby Aldridge played sparingly throughout the season seeing only 11 minutes in five separate contests.


Serge Angounou had an up and down senior season that was highlighted by a 23-point effort on the road against Xavier and 14 points in his last game at home against Arizona. His career started with very high expectations, and early on he looked to be a more promising prospect than future Pac-10 player of the year Ike Diogu, who came in the same recruiting class. After a severe knee injury in an exhibition game his freshman year, the Cameroon native was never the same and was far from reaching his full potential. One can only wonder what a steady effort from Angounou could do in terms of bettering the season's outcome.

Allen Morill started the season coming off the bench. However, after proving his value on the defensive end Sendek inserted the senior forward into the starting lineup midway through the season. By all accounts, Morill's last season Tempe was by far his best. He was a gritty player who played great defense and clogged the lane. His offensive game improved, especially his outside shooting (albeit erratic at times) and he was a solid passer for a big man.

Sylvester Seay is an enigma. Regarded by some NBA scouts to be the best pro prospect on the Sun Devils, the sophomore forward was primed to have a big season on a team that lacked an offensive punch. One can argue that his lack of production, to put it kindly, really hampered the maroon and gold. He could have been match-up nightmare standing at 6'9" with a good outside shot and noticeable athletic ability. Alas, Seay never seemed to mesh with the coaching staff and he reportedly had trouble grasping Sendek's schemes. It is uncertain whether Seay will return next season but if he decides to remain at ASU and work hard to learn the system, he could be a valuable piece of the puzzle next season

Bruno Claudino was another Sun Devil senior who played very little this season. Claudino tallied just 45 total minutes this season and in his two years at ASU, he scored 47 career points.

True freshman George Odufuwa came in and played right away but as the season went along he saw his minutes diminish. He was another player that struggled to learn the new system. Odufuwa is a raw player but a talented one at that and he will definitely get more minutes next season, especially with the dire need for depth up front.


Jeff Pendergraph is the undisputed star of the team and a great leader for the young squad. He earned All Pac-10 Honorable Mention this season after averaging 12.1 PPG and 9.2 RPG. Armed with a dangerous mid-range jumper to compliment his array of low post moves, Pendergraph was a focal point of every opposing defense. With the addition of Duke transfer Eric Boateng, and perhaps some pounds of muscle, Pendy is poised to have a huge junior season.

Team MVP

No contest here – my vote goes to Pendergraph. He is the most talented and consistent player on the squad. It's not just the scoring that makes Pendergraph special; it's the rebounding and defense, two areas which he improved leaps and bounds from last year. Pendergraph had eight double-doubles this season and got 19 rebounds in a game against Oregon. Pendergraph's biggest game was in the Sun Devils first conference win against USC. He went for 14 points and 15 rebounds to help seal the upset win. By all accounts ASU's should be a better outside shooting team next season, which should elevate Pendergraph to an All-PAC 10 status.

Newcomer of the Year

Derek Glasser started off the season as a young little freshman that looked awe-struck and nervous but that shell came off quickly. He emerged as a phenomenal floor general, who hit some big shots at crucial times. He played a pivotal role in ASU's two conference victories, as he scored 14 points in the upset over USC, and hitting the game-winning three for a road win at Cal.

Looking ahead

The future for ASU basketball is brighter than ever before. Sporting the 15th ranked recruiting class in the country, which doesn't include the aforementioned 6'10" Boateng, Herb Sendek and the Sun Devil nation can't help but salivate over the possibilities that lie ahead. The highly regarded recruits are headed by McDonald's All-American SG James Harden, PG Jamelle McMillan, SF Rihards Kuksiks, and PF Kraidon Woods. Harden is touted by many to be the biggest recruit in ASU history. McMillan is the son of former NBA great Nate McMillan and he was listed as one of the best point guards in the west. Kuksiks is a Latvian-born sharp-shooter that attended high school in Florida. Woods is a big man that de-committed from Villanova to join the ASU fold.

Even with the excitement over next year's newcomers, there should be even more anticipation that this season's first-year players have for the most part improved from the start of the season until the end. One year of experience for those individuals could pay hefty dividends for the maroon and gold in 2007-08.

Next season could be a special one for basketball at Arizona State so hop on board with the Herbivores and watch the Sun Devils make their march toward the NCAA Tournament in 2008!

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