Devils looking to extend the other streak

Much of the talk going into the ASU-Arizona game is centered around the five-game winning streak the Sun Devils currently hold in this series. However, in the week leading up to this contest the ASU players seems less concerned about extending that stretch and focused more on continuing their overall momentum as they try to win their fifth straight contest in conference play.

Junior Ty Abbott feels that everything has been going right for Arizona State ever since they dropped their two first league games.

"The team is just clicking," Abbott said. "Right now we're finding each other on break, we're running, playing hard, playing together and there's a lot more energy in the program.

"We just want to keep on winning. We're not really concerned about what we did last year (against Arizona). There are guys on the team that are contributing that weren't even part of it last year. We just want to get the win."

Speaking of streaks, in the last game against Oregon State the guard was red-hot scoring three consecutive times beyond the arc as he collected a season-high 21 points in the victory. Abbott has been on torrid pace during his team's recent run, averaging 17.8 points over the last four games.

"Right now as far as shooting, everything feels good," Abbott admitted.

In the last four games the maroon and gold have been employing an offense that is more free-flowing, and aggressive to the basket. The result wasn't only four successive victories which placed them atop of the Pac-10, but also dramatically raising the scoring average from 53.5 ppg in their first two conference games to 70.25 ppg in their last four games.

No one probably other than the Sun Devils themselves expected to be sitting at 14-5, 4-2 in Pac-10 play, in mid-January. On the other hand, the fact that they have achieved this record with a schematic revamp mid-season is something that nobody could have anticipated.

"It's difficult to make a major adjustment like that mid-season," Abbott commented. "I think we decided to really grab hold of the concept after we lost two straight. We knew we had to do something. That week was one of our best weeks in practice.

"Coach Sendek joked saying that on our recruiting trips we would ask him ‘Are you going to run?...So here's your chance.' So we went with it."

Back in the team's media day last October, senior Derek Glasser claimed that this year's squad could be as good or even better than last's year's team which had current NBA players James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. Thus far, that proclamation is coming true and the point guard explained what was behind his prediction.

"Last year's team relied so much on James," said Glasser. "It's hard to be a great team when you rely so much on one player. Guys…when it's their turn in the game they're not ready because everybody is just sitting and watching James do his thing.

"This year has more of an attack mentality and players are much more confident. You can see that throughout the game with certain guys like Rik (Kuksiks), Ty, and Jamelle (McMillan). I think at this point of the season we do some things much better than that team, and there are things that that team did better than us. Hopefully, the end result will be better."

Glasser believes that the extended freedom that players such as Abbott and Kuksiks now enjoy is a positive byproduct of the new offense. Furthermore, he feels that this type of a motion offense has been beneficial to all players on the team.

"Four games now, I don't think we called a play," Glasser claimed. "It's definitely nothing a against the other team's defense, it's just how we are running the offense now. We're just reading the defense, cutting, and screening.

"It's definitely been a change, especially in practice. To learn a new offense you have to run a lot of live (sessions), so we've gone live more in the past three weeks than I have in the Pac-10 season probably my whole career here. Normally when Pac-10 comes, Coach Sendek shuts it down. We do 5 on 0 and that's it. Now, we go up and down. It's been a lot of fun – that's for sure. Practices have been much more competitive."

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