Taking care of business

With Duke as the next opponent the Sun Devils will face, there was concern that the maroon and gold would overlook tonight's matchup against University of San Francisco at Wells Fargo Arena. Not only did the team manage to put their best effort, they defeated the Don's 104-65.

"We haven't talked about next week," Coach Sendek said. "We really turned the page immediately following the TCU game and focused on today's game. That was really important for us to do because you can only play your next game, you can't play your whole schedule at the same time. I thought our guys did a good job of focusing on today's game."

One of the Sun Devils leading scorers, Rihards Kuksiks, set a career high with 27 points, shooting 53% from the outside. The junior from Riga, Latvia had great success on the floor, yet in his eyes, it still could have been better.

"Well, I think I missed a lot of shots though," Kuksiks commented. "I had wide open looks and I missed some so I think I could score more points even."

"It just happened; my teammates did a good job finding me," Kuksiks said about his success. "I basically give all the credit to my teammates for finding me. All I had to do was put it in the basket."

Against USF the Sun Devils found their success shooting their threes, yet the opportunity was unexpected. With half of the teams shot attempts coming from the perimeter, tonight showcased the shooting abilities of the 2009-2010 team.

"We just had great respect for San Francisco's pressure, they really get after the ball, they contest passing lanes, and they really are disruptive," Coach Sendek noted. "They do a good job of keeping you off balance by changing defenses so we knew offensively it was going to be important for us to execute and take care of the ball."

Today it was announced that true freshman Victor Rudd was cleared by the NCAA, and made his first appearance for the Sun Devils against USF.

"It's great for him that he is able to join us," Sendek admitted. "He has only practiced a few days and I guess the first step is that he has to improve his conditioning. He has been on the sideline for several months now so he is at the very beginning stages."

Another standout freshman who has proven himself in the very short time since the season began is Trent Lockett. Moving into the starting lineup after only 3 games, the freshman makes his presence known on the court.

"He is really a talented young man," Sendek said. "He adds value in so many ways. He is a good player and what a great young guy, I couldn't be happier with him."

Spending the week focusing on San Francisco, the Sun Devils were able to keep the upcoming matchup against Duke in the back of their minds. The team will take the day off tomorrow and then begin their preparation for the NIT Season Tip-off Tournament Semifinals.

"We will travel Sunday, we will practice Sunday evening," Sendek commented. "We will take tomorrow off, we haven't had our off day yet this week so we have to take it off. We will travel and practice Sunday evening then we will practice Monday and Tuesday and get ready to play Wednesday."

Playing in Madison Square Garden is an exciting opportunity for Coach Sendek and his players, yet the team will be put to the test against a talented Duke team. Despite the change in venue and facing the toughest team yet, the Sun Devils will prepare like they do any other opponent.

"We will prepare like we always do," Sendek admitted. "We will watch film and try to determine which game plan makes the most sense and go there and try to execute it."

"It will be a great experience to take the guys to New York; I don't know how many of them have been to the city. Madison Square Garden has so much tradition and legend. It will be a great experience for them to be there but most importantly it's a great experience for them to play against tremendous competition which obviously we're going to face on both nights."

New York City has much to offer, and while the team is there to work, it will be difficult not to notice the distractions that surround them. Coach Sendek is confident he will be able to keep is players focused.

"I'll make sure they don't have too much fun," Sendek joked. That's one of my best attributes."

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