Tough Tournament Looms Large for Devils

Playing in a challenging out of conference tournament in November has become a staple of college basketball. With only three games under their belt head coach Herb Sendek and the Sun Devils face an early and stiff test as they play three games in four days at the Anaheim Classic. ASU will play its first game of the tournament against Charlotte on Thanksgiving night at 7 pm MT.

"I think we'll see a variety of style of play," said Sendek on the tournament field which features teams such as Baylor, Providence, Wake Forest and St. Mary's. "It will be a good barometer for us, a great learning experience for us.

"It's great television exposure. Good competition for your strength of schedule and for your team's improvement. But having said that college basketball rolls early and it seems that it has gotten earlier very year."

In their opening game, Arizona State (3-0) will face a Charlotte (1-3) squad which lost all its three games for a combined total of five points. Nonetheless, Sendek realizes the tough task that awaits its squad as they face the 49ers.

"We know we're dealing with a very talented team," noted Sendek. "At this point records aren't all that revealing…in large part it's a function of your schedule and in their case a possession or two either way. We're not going to be fooled by their first couple of games in terms of wins and losses."

The ASU head coach highlighted the athleticism of his team's next opponent, and described them as a squad that likes to cause chaos, schematically speaking, during a game.

"They use multiple defenses," stated Sendek. "They're very random it seems in their trapping. They want to prey on your ball handing weaknesses, if you have any. Offensively, they have good balance."

Due to the 49ers' defensive traits, Sendek remarked that he could play both point guards, Derek Glasser and Jamelle McMillan, at the same time.

As a whole the Sun Devil skipper feels that the team is doing a better job pushing the ball, but excelling in that attribute is usually a derivative of deft rebounding, which has eluded the Sun Devils is some of their contests.

"Everything is kind of connected," explained Sendek. "It's very difficult to ever evaluate one part of the game alone. You want to get better at defensive rebounding, you usually have to get better at guarding penetration."

Offensive balance was definitely lacking in the maroon and gold's game, albeit in a runaway win. James Harden scored 33 of his team's 61 points in a win over Pepperdine, but Sendek doesn't believe that his teammates opted to stand around and watch Harden be a one-man show.

"Our offense isn't designed for them to stand around and watch James," commented Sendek. "Their job is to perhaps stand momentarily but read what the defense is doing and act accordingly."

Quoting a line from the movie ‘Rocky', Sendek explained how mundane this Thanksgiving holiday will be for ASU.

"For you it's Thanksgiving, for me it's Thursday," quipped Sendek. "We will most certainly be thankful tough. We will have a grateful heart, but hopefully we will also have some really good defensive stops."

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