Sun Devils living in the present

Coming off back to back nail biting one-point victories, the ASU basketball team needs to learn from the past, but also put it the rearview mirror. Moreover, they cannot let those lukewarm performances create a sense of apprehension as they begin a tough Pac-10 slate in a week and a half.

Does Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek choose to view his team's recent performances in a positive light as a shining example of toughness, or do those two contests accentuate that much more his team's shortcomings and need for improvement?

"Very few things are absolutes," said Sendek. "I think there's always a combination of messages and lessons to be gathered. I think both of those (points of view) are very relevant.

"We have a great deal to improve and at the same time, our team demonstrated tremendous amount of resiliency and grit the last two games to find ways to win against two good teams."

The Sun Devils hope they don't get to learn another type lesson on Tuesday afternoon and that is complacency. ASU will face Idaho State today in a Noon tip-off which lends itself to the proverbial getaway game before the Christmas holiday, as coaches and players alike will rush home following this contest.

"There are always ample reasons, if you wanna to give yourself the luxury using them for not being your best," explained Sendek. "Hopefully, we'll be able to transcend that, be focused and play well."

The Sun Devil skipper played down any adjustments that allowed his squad to come back from a 16-point halftime deficit against IUPUI and a ten-point hole in the later stages of the BYU game.

Sendek points to a more pragmatic rationale.

"Guys just keep playing the game," stated Sendek. "Very rarely is it some incredible discovery. That's really overrated I think. Guys make plays, and they continue to play, and the game goes on. The game of college basketball is a game of runs; you see it all the time.

"You just gotta keep playing the whole 40 plus minutes."

Point guard Jamelle McMillan believes that the experience factor of the team has fueled the comeback abilities of the maroon and gold.

"We played with each other now for a year, going on a year and half" said the sophomore. "We have enough guys at each position being able to make those plays that we need, give us those energy boosts.

"It's just a matter of guys stepping up and making plays. Guys have confidence, are more comfortable with their game now that we have a year under our belt, and we trust each other – that's a huge part.

"That's what we need to do in order to keep successful."

McMillan appreciates the coaching staff's attitude in the last week, not being satisfied with two consecutive victories and stressing the progress that the Sun Devils still need to display as the season goes on.

"We know what we need to correct, we know where we need to make adjustments," commented McMillan. "Having a coach like that only forces you to get better individually and that will help you collectively as a group."

McMillan is starting to find more consistent success with his outside shot this year. Last season, the sophomore tallied 15 three-point baskets. This season he already has eight three point baskets in just ten games, and his ten points versus BYU were naturally crucial in his team's narrow victory.

He (McMillan) hit some big shots," said Sendek. "That was really a key for us. He's really worked hard in (shooting) and really improved in that area. I really think he made an investment in his shot."

Even though Rihards Kuksiks and Ty Abbott struggled offensively against BYU, they had the mental toughness to make big baskets down the stretch that greatly aided ASU in their razor thin margin victory.

Sendek believes that the mental toughness both players possess is innate, and isn't something that was developed through time.

"I think they did even last year," remarked Sendek. "A lot of time guys either have that gift or they don't."

When asked if his team is ready to begin conference play, Sendek offered a quick and firm reply of "No." Again, it all comes down to focusing on the here and now.

"We're not ready for anything but play Idaho State right now," said Sendek, "and even at that we still have another session together for final preparation.

"We're staying in the present."


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