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Men's hoops game notes for Wednesday game with Arizona

January 07, 2008

The Arizona State's men's hoops team, under second-year coach Herb Sendek, plays host to the Arizona Wildcats (10-4; 1-1) on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. MT (KKNT 960 AM/FSN Arizona). ASU is 2-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time since 1987-88 (4-0) and just the third time in its 30 years of Pac-10 play (other time was 6-0 in 1979-80) and is on an eight-game win streak for the first time since a nine-game streak from Nov. 27-Dec. 29, 2004, and for just the second time in the past in the past 26 seasons (1981-82 to present). After starting 6-19 last year, ASU is 14-5 in its past 19 games as its roster has an interesting mix as it includes one senior, five freshmen, three sophomores who played 87.3 minutes per game last year (with Pac-10 leading 69 freshmen starts) and one of college hoops rising players in 6-9 junior Jeff Pendergraph. A preseason Wooden Award Top-50 candidate, Pendergraph led the team in scoring (12.1) and rebounding (9.1) last year, as his rebounding average matched the second-best mark by a Sun Devil in the past 26 seasons. ASU ranks first in the league in assist/turnover ratio (1.28) and steals (7.57 per game) and turnover margin and second in turnover margin (+2.93), field goal percentage (.503) and free throw percentage (.756). ASU is 10-0 at home this year after going 7-11 (.389) last year in Tempe.

REAL DEAL: ASU is led by the Pac-10's youngest player, freshman James Harden (turned 18 on Aug. 26), who leads the team in scoring (17.6 ppg.), steals (25 which leads Pac-10) and minutes per game (31.0) and is shooting .559 from the field (ninth in Pac-10), .802 from the free throw line (eighth in the Pac-10) and .471 from the three-point stripe (eighth in Pac-10). Harden is the first McDonald's All-American to sign with ASU out of high school since 1984 (it was Chris Sandle before you ask).

IN THE MIDDLE: With 10 of the Sun Devil games being margins of at least 15 points, Jeff Pendergraph is averaging just 26.3 minutes per game but he already has 19 blocks and is shooting .684 from the field (tops in the Pac-10) and .806 from the free throw line (seventh in the league). His best outing this year was a 25-point, 10-board scene stealer against LSU's long front line in the third game of Maui Invitational. In his past five games he is averaging 19.4 points and 8.4 boards and is 31-of-39 (.795) from the field and 35-of-42 (.833) from the foul line. He has three double-doubles this year and 16 in his career.

QUICK NOTES: ASU held Pac-10 scoring leader Oregon to 54 points on Jan. 3, UO's fewest points in the past 55 games. Last year ASU fell at No. 13 Oregon 55-51 on Feb. 8, 2007, as the 55 points was a Duck season-low last year...ASU's 72-53 win over on Jan. 5 over Oregon State was its biggest margin of victory in the Pac-10 since a 108-78 win over USC on Feb. 13, 2003...sophomore Derek Glasser has made 26-of-31 (.839) free throws this year and is 61-of-76 (.803) in his 44-game career. After shooting 34.5 percent from the field last year, Glasser is shooting 46.5 percent (25-of-54) this year. He had a career-high nine assists against Idaho on Dec. 22, the most by a Sun Devil since Antwi Atuahene had 10 vs. Oregon on Feb. 11, 2006 (most in past 50 games). Glasser has 47 assists and just 10 turnovers in the past eight games...sophomore Jerren Shipp is 20-of-49 (.408) from the three-point stripe this year after going 36-of-107 (.336) last year. He had a career-best nine boards vs. Idaho...sophomore Christian Polk is 43-of-54 (.796) from the foul line in his 43-game career...freshman Ty Abbott has 34 three-pointers, tied for ninth-best by a freshman in ASU history, and is tied for fourth in the Pac-10 at 2.43 three-pointers per game...ASU has reached 70-points eight times in 14 games, last year it reached 70 points three times ...James Harden has seven 20-point games, tied for most in the league and first among freshmen...Coach Sendek has 31 career wins against ranked teams (14 over top-10 and eight over top-five). He notched his first at ASU in the final chance last year as ASU topped No. 22 USC 68-58 on Feb. 18, 2007, and won his first attempt this year with the 77-55 win over No. 17 Xavier on Dec. 15, the largest win over a ranked team in ASU history.

NATIONALLY: ASU ranks high nationally in a few categories, as it is eighth in scoring defense (56.5 points per game), eighth in field goal percentage (.503), 11th in turnovers per game (11.9 per game) and 13th in free throw percentage (.756). Sophomore point guard Derek Glasser leads the Pac-10 and ranks eighth in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 3.15 per game.

TAKE IT: ASU was one of four teams who had more wins prior to Christmas than it did all of 2006-2007. The list included ASU (9-2 after 8-22 last year), Iona (5-7 after 2-28 last year), Northern Colorado (5-6 after 4-24 last year) and UNC-Wilmington (8-4 after 7-22 last year).

FRESHMEN: ASU freshmen accounted for 69 of 150 starts in Herb Sendek's rookie 30-game season. Through 14 games, the numbers have jumped to 108 out of 220 starts in his 44-games. That means in his two years, ASU's has had freshmen make 49.1 percent of the starts. Sophomores have made 49 starts (.223), juniors 31 (.141) and seniors 32 (.145). Against Xavier on Dec. 15, ASU started four freshmen for the first time in school history.

THE TREE: Herb Sendek has six former assistants who are currently D-I head coaches: Jim Christian, Kent State, Miami Assistant (1994-96); Charlie Coles, Miami (Ohio), Miami Assistant (1994-96); Larry Hunter, Western Carolina, NC State Assistant (2001-05); Ron Hunter, IUPUI, Miami Assistant (1993-94); Thad Matta, Ohio State, Miami Assistant (1994-95) and Sean Miller, Xavier, Miami (1994-96) and NC State Assistant (1996-2000). Coles, Miller and Matta all led their teams to the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

EXPECT THIS TO BE A STAPLE AT ASU: ASU is shooting .756 from the free throw line (217-of-287), as James Harden already is 69-of-86 (.802). Each of the six Sun Devils averaging more than 15 minutes are shooting at least 73 percent, and five of them are shooting better than 80 percent. In his 10 seasons at NC State, Coach Sendek's teams led the ACC four times in FT percentage (including three straight seasons, 2002-04). In 2004 NC State led the nation and set the ACC record by shooting .799 from the charity stripe. While at NC State, his squads shot 71.3 percent, as his poorest FT shooting team was his first year (1996-97/.649). ASU is second in the league in FT shooting while Jeff Pendergraph is seventh (.806) and James Harden is eighth (.802).

ACADEMICALLY SPEAKING: The men's basketball team had another strong outing in the classroom this fall, as it posted a 2.91 grade point average and its cumulative GPA for the roster is now 2.95. In addition, two more former Sun Devils finished their degrees, as Bruno Claudino (2005-2007/B.I.S) and Shawn Redhage (1999-2003/B.S. in Construction) both finished their degrees in December of 2007. Since 2004, 13 Sun Devil men's basketball players have graduated.

QUICKIES: ASU set a school record by making 73.3 percent of its three-pointers (11-of-15) against Saint Francis (Pa.) on Dec. 29. It also shot 72.1 percent from the field for the game (31-of-43), secon-best in school history...James Harden, Ty Abbott and Jamelle McMillan started against Illinois on Nov. 19, the first time in school history that three freshmen started the opener...after averaging 58.5 points per game last year, ASU scored 54 in the first half against Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 28. The 54 first-half points (most since 58-30 lead against USC on Feb. 13, 2003) was more than it scored in 10 games last year...ASU outrebounded Cal Poly by 29 on Nov. 26 (52-23), its best rebounding margin since a 49-19 output vs. American-Puerto Rico on Nov. 26, 1997...ASU also held Cal Poly to 14-of-55 (.255) from the floor, its best defensive effort since Dec. 2, 2000, when it held eventual NCAA Tournament bound BYU to 15-of-59 (.254), then held Delaware State to .208 shooting (11-of-53)...Jeff Pendergraph led the team in charges taken with 19 last year.

NICE CARRY OVER: ASU won two of its final five last year, beating #22 USC 68-58 on Feb. 18 and then winning 42-41 at Cal March 3 in the regular season finale, matching the best defensive performance in ASU's 522-game Pac-10 history (ASU beat UW 53-41 on Jan. 31, 1991) and the best in a Pac-10 road game. ASU improved throughout last year as in the second half of the Pac-10 season, its scoring margin was less than a three-pointer (-2.5 per game). Although ASU went 8-22 last year and started 6-19, it is 14-5 in its past 19 games.


HE HAS DONE IT BEFORE: A 32-year old head coach led Miami (Ohio) to a 71-62 first-round NCAA Tournament upset of the No. 15 Arizona Wildcats in Dayton in the 59th game of his coaching career. Nearly 13 years and 397 games later, that former Miami head coach is ASU's head coach, Herb Sendek. That 12th-seeded Miami squad was 22-6 entering NCAA Tournament action, as the Redskins were one of four teams seeded 12th or lower to win a first-round game in 1995.

WHEN YOU PUT IT THIS WAY, IT REALLY IS IMPRESSIVE: Herb Sendek took NC State to the five straight NCAA Tournaments (2002-2006) prior to ASU. To compare it to the Pac-10, only three schools can match that in the 29 seasons since ASU and Arizona joined the league in 1978-79. Arizona (currently 23), UCLA (14 straight from 1989-2002) and Stanford (11 straight from 1995-2005) have had NCAA Tournaments streaks of more than five, but none of the other seven Pac-10 schools have gone to the NCAAs more than three straight times since the league expanded to 10 teams. In fact, Cal (2001-2003), Oregon State (1980-82 and 1988-90) and Washington (1984-86 and 2004-06) are the only schools to have made three straight in that time frame.

"THIS" CLOSE: ASU was in 14 games decided by five points or less, the most by an ASU squad in 23 years (1982-83 team had 17 of 33 games of five points). Fifteen of ASU's games were two-possession games (six points or less). ASU was in 21 games of 10 points or less, which led the Pac-10 and was in just nine games of 11+ point final margins, fewest in the loop. After losing five straight games by 20 total points (including three against ranked teams), ASU posted a 68-58 win over No. 22 USC on Feb. 18, its first win over a ranked team since March 20, 2003.

INTRIGUING SECOND HALF: In the final nine regular season games last year (second half of Pac-10) ASU was outscored by just 22 points and its seven losses were by one, three, four (twice), five, six and ten points. It all started vs. Washington on Feb. 1, when ASU fell behind 44-21 at the half but then outscored the Huskies 40-22 in the second half and held UW to just 5-of-21 (.238) from the those nine games, ASU outscored its opponents 281-227 (31.2 to 25.7) in the second half and held them to 70-of-203 (.344) from the field and 18-of-76 (.236) from the three-point stripe...held Cal on March 3 to just 5-of-18 (.278) shooting and 16 points in the second half...outscored USC 47-32 in the second half on Feb. 18...ASU outscored eventual Pac-10 Tournament champion and Elite Eight participant Oregon 30-22 in the second half and just 6-of-21 (.286) shooting...ASU outscored WSU 23-12 on Feb. 3 and held it to 4-of-20 (.200) from the floor...14 of ASU's final 15 games were decided by 10 points or less, including its final 10.

THE HEAD COACH: Herb Sendek is in his 15th season as a head coach and has averaged 18.7 wins per season. He led the Wolfpack to five straight NCAA appearances from 2002-06 and is now 274-182 (.601) in 15 seasons and was 191-132 (.591) at NC State. The 44-year-old (born Feb. 22, 1963) Pittsburgh, Pa., native is the second-youngest coach in the Pac-10 behind only second-year coach Tony Bennett of WSU. Only Duke posted more ACC wins (regular season and ACC Tournament) than NC State's 53 victories from 2002-2006. Coach Sendek also led NC State to five 20-win seasons in his final seven years. Another overlooked note is his 10-year stay at NC State. To compare it to the Pac-10, since the league expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79, only five coaches have coached at their schools for at least 10 years: Lute Olson (24 at Arizona), Ralph Miller (19 at Oregon State), Mike Montgomery (18 at Stanford), Ben Braun (12th at California) and Ernie Kent (11th at Oregon).

FROSH STARTS: ASU freshmen made 69 starts in 2006-2007 -- Christian Polk (26), Jerren Shipp (22) and Derek Glasser (21). The 69 starts was the most in the Pac-10, ahead of Washington (68) and USC (65). Stanford (49), Cal (48), Arizona and Oregon State (43 including redshirt freshman Josh Tarver's 32 starts), Oregon (33), Washington State (4) and UCLA (1) complete the league's 423 freshmen starts. ASU freshmen have made 39 starts this year.

D IS GOOD: The Sun Devils finished third in Pac-10 games in scoring defense at 61.7 ppg., and the other teams in the top seven were NCAA Tournament squads. And it is not just a result of slowing the game down, as ASU ranked fourth in FG percentage defense (.437) in league games, despite blocking just 23 shots in 18 games (ninth in the loop). ASU gave up just 61.8 points per game overall (fourth-best mark in ASU history), the lowest since 1949-50 (59.8). In 44 games under Herb Sendek, ASU is giving up just 60.2 points per game.

EXAMPLES OF THE D LAST YEAR: ASU held Oregon, who averaged 75.9 ppg., to a season-low 55 points on Feb. 8 in Eugene and held Washington State, who averaging 66.9 points, to its second-lowest point total on the season in a 48-47 loss on Feb. 3. On Feb. 25 against Arizona, ASU held the Pac-10's top scoring team (78.0) to 61 points. The 61 points was the fewest by UA against ASU since a 53-52 ASU win on Jan. 5, 1995. ASU held Cal (69.5 ppg.) to 41 points on Mar. 3, the fewest by the Golden Bears since a 59-37 loss to Washington State on Jan. 14, 1988.