Harden Impressive in Team Scrimmage

The accolades accompanying freshman guard James Harden are a major reason for the excitement surrounding Sun Devil basketball this season. His 18 points (missing just two shots) in Saturday's afternoon team scrimmage certainly didn't disappoint the 1,000 fans at Wells Fargo Arena who got their first look of the 2007-08 squad.

Head Coach Herb Sendek wasn't naturally pleased with all aspects of this early pre-season scrimmage, and stressed the improvement that the team still has to go through. "We energized by the group we have," he said. "We're eager to get better and these kinds of experiences (scrimmages) are invaluable for us…no matter how many drills you do, how much you practice, there's nothing like going up and down like this."

The scrimmage consisted of two ten-minute periods. The Maroon team coached by assistant head coaches Scott Pera and Dedrique Taylor, consisted of what the starting lineup is shaping up to be: Derek Glasser, James Harden, Ty Abbott, Eric Boateng and Jeff Pendergraph. They faced a Gold Team, coached by Associate Head Coach Mark Phelps, had Antwi Atuahene, Jerren Shipp, Christian Polk, Rihards Kuksiks and Kraidon Woods in their lineup. Jamelle McMillan, who has been out for a week and counting, rested his injured ankle and didn't play.

Despite the clear advantage of the maroon team, they won the first stanza by a slim victory of 20-17. Harden scored 12 of his 18 points during that frame. In the second period it was another three-point victory for the maroon squad, 18-15, with Pendergraph scoring eight points. Harden scored most of his points driving the paint for lay-ups. His fluid play makes his game look effortless at times. Pendergraph got most of his production in the paint, including a couple of thunderous dunks.

Boateng displayed some nice moves in the paint, including the crowd favorite jump hook. Glasser displayed good court vision running the team. Abbott was scoreless, which is in sharp contrast to his practice performance where has had been deadly with his outside shot.

Woods, who's learning how to play the post position, has some nifty array of shots near the basket. Even though he's less physical than he should be, he wasn't afraid to mix it up under the basket. The shooting ability of Kuksiks is quite evident. Shipp and Polk both had some nice moments on Saturday afternoon.

The scrimmage featured a mixture of man-to-man and zone defense, with the later, much like last year, being the much more effective and one that should debut this Saturday when the team opens the season at home on Saturday with a non-conference game against Grand Canyon University. The offense featured much more transition play and overall increased speed and athleticism that is allowing the Sun Devils to pick it up a notch.

Four-star recruit Brendan Lane, who was in this weekend on an unofficial visit, was a spectator at practice. Unofficial Scrimmage Stats:

Harden 18 points, 7-9, 4-4 FT
Pendergraph 10 points 4-6 2-2 FT
Polk 8 points 3-9 2-2 FT
Kuksiks 7 points 3-6
Woods 6 points 3-6 0-2 FT
Shipp 5 points 2-4
Boateng 8 points 3-4 1-1 FT
Atuahene (played on both squads) 4 points 2-2
Steve Jones 3 points 1-1
Glasser 1-2 2 points
Abbott 0-3

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