Husky offense will be a handful

Pac-10 pundits have used different metaphors to describe the conference leading Washington offense. Whether it is their explosive guards play or commanding presence down low, the Huskies are hard to defend, which according to ASU's head coach is akin to an episode from a classic American comedy.

"You're trying to put your finger in the dyke all over the place, you think of some of those old Three Stooges scenes," Sendek said, "where they feel that they got the water stopped coming over here, and oh my goodness it spouts right here and you have to move over there…and that's what you deal with sometimes when you play a good team."

In the last game versus Washington, an 84-71 loss, forward and double double machine Jon Brockman was contained by Arizona State. However, their effective guard play of Isaiah Thomas and Justin Dentmon, who combined for 55 points, was clearly the difference that day.

"I think the different parts feed off each other," Sendek stated. "Players make each other better. When you have a good team like they do, sometimes like the saying goes you rob Peter to pay Paul.

Sendek doesn't know if the same script will unfold in Seattle on Thursday night, but he realizes that there are several players on the Huskies that can cause his defense headaches.

"I know they have many players that are capable of harpooning you and some of them can do it at once," he explained. "They're exceptionally talented. I don't know how many more teams in the country are deeper and more talented than Washington is."

And clearly after the performance of Thomas and Dentmon in Tempe, the ASU head coach has nothing but glowing words about those two Washington stars.

"Those two guys have become a great tandem together," said Sendek. "They both are complete guards. Some guards are standstill shooters; others are quick off the dribble but can't shoot. Those guys can get to the rim, can stop and have a mid-range game, they shoot the three, they push tempo, and they can attract defenders and make assists.

"They can apply pressure on defense, which in turn creates offense. Both of those guys are total package guards and remind you of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West from St. Joe's. I think that they're that kind of good complementary guards."

When it comes to its chances of capturing its first ever league crown, the maroon and gold control their own destiny. The magnitude of the team's next game is so clearly enormous that its coach doesn't feel that he should say much in terms of highlighting its importance. Furthermore, the season is far from over.

"The way our league is the difference between places in the standings is negligible," Sendek noted. "Teams are separated by nothing right now. They're still four games left, so there's so much more basketball left to be played. We want to do well, we want to win our next game and continue to get better, and we'll see what happens in the end."

For forward Jeff Pendergraph Thursday's contest is anything but just another game. He knows that this obviously is the first time since he's been in Tempe, that he has a legitimate chance at winning the Pac-10.

"This time of the year two seasons ago," he recalled, "we were like ‘let's try and salvage the rest of this season.' Last season we were trying to make it look as good as we can for when the tournament comes.

"Now we know our season isn't done yet and we have a lot of things to do in the last four games. They (the four games) can make or break our season, and added in there too is that those games can get us or cost us a conference championship and that's feels really good to say."

It has been so far a remarkable season for ASU, one that has set many milestones. Having said that, would it be fair to sate that the Sun Devils have maximized their potential? "You never know the answer to that question," Sendek replied. "I try to evaluate what we do every day. That's what I spent my time doing – What's working? What's not working? What is there to learn from this experience? One of the best parts to me about coaching is the game and the team is constantly revealing itself to you in different ways. It's like if there's a really good movie, you can see the movie a second or a third time and depending on the state that you're are now in, which is likely to be different than the state you were in the first time that you saw the movie, all of sudden it reveals itself in a different way.

"I'll watch a tape and see something, and watch the tape another time and it will reveal itself to me in a different way. To me that's one of the exciting things about coaching. You can constantly learn about the game and your team as it relates to the opponent and relates to your present state of mind."

Pendergraph said that he doesn't know how much better the Sun Devils can play, but claimed that his head coach is never easily satisfied.

"He's really quick to lift you up and say how great you did," said Pendergraph, "and then he'll start bringing us right down. The last stretch of games he's been really happy with us and he's always going to have stuff to critique us on because that's how he is.

"He enjoys the moment for a second, but as soon as he goes home he's right back at the computer trying to figure out what we could have done better. He's happy with us when we play hard and that allows him to focus on being a coach and fine tuning X's and O's."

Even though Sendek is a perfectionist n every sense of the word, when he looks back at the progress made since he arrived in Tempe nearly three years ago, he can't help but feel proud of the accomplishments achieved.

"If you would have said to me, we would have made this kind of rapid progress, when I first arrived; I would have signed up for it," Sendek admitted. "We started at the very beginning in every convincible way. But having said that, it's not like we arrived at some destination, because things change. You still got to move forward to the next day.

"It's not like you get to arrive, but we have covered a lot of territory in a short period of time. We've got terrific support from Dr. Crow and Lisa Love and the rest of our administration. But we have had to move this program forward in ways both on and off the court. It's not just game night that this transformation is taking place."

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