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Sun Devil men's hoops opens season Nov. 19 in Maui Invitational

November 12, 2007

SUN DEVIL DATA: The Arizona State men's basketball team under second-year coach Herb Sendek opens its season with six newcomers and six returning lettermen from last year on Nov. 19 against perennial Big Ten power Illinois (23-12) at 6:30 p.m. HT/9:30 HT on ESPN2 in the Maui Invitational. ASU's roster has an interesting mix which includes two McDonald's All-Americans making their Sun Devil debuts, three sophomores who played 87.3 minutes per game (with Pac-10 leading 69 freshmen starts) and one of college hoops rising players in junior Jeff Pendergraph. Pendergraph, a preseason Wooden Award Top-50 candidate, 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 improved throughout last season as in the second half of Pac-10 play, its scoring margin was less than a three-pointer (-2.5) per game. It returns its top four scorers and its sixth-leading scorer, sophomore point guard Derek Glasser, who started in 21 games and averaged 32.2 minutes in Pac-10 contests. ASU, who started three freshmen in each of their exhibition games on Nov. 3 and No. 7, plays arguably the nation's most consistent team in the past four years as Illinois has won 112 games in that span, tied with Florida and Duke for the most in the nation. Herb Sendek is 46-10 (.821) in November in his 14-year career and is 13-1 in season openers. ASU is 1-2 against Illinois but the teams have not met since an 80-74 Illini home win on Dec. 18, 1976.

SO IF THREE FRESHMEN DO START...: A lot can happen in 12 days of practice, but if ASU does start three freshmen against Illinois it will mark the first time in school history that three freshmen started in the opening game. ASU's point guard (Jamelle McMillan) and both wings (James Harden and Ty Abbott) all got starting nods in the exhibition tuneups.

ASU IN MAUI: ASU has played in the EA Sports Maui Invitational four times and had two of its biggest victories in the 1994 tournament. The Sun Devils played in November of 1991 (1-2), won the tournament in 1994 with wins over Texas A&M, #13 Michigan and #7 Maryland, went 1-2 in 1998 and were 2-1 in 2002. North Carolina (10-2), Duke (9-0), Michigan (8-3), Arizona, Kentucky, and Indiana (8-4) are the schools to have more Maui wins than ASU, as ASU's 7-5 mark also is matched by Kansas and Villanova. Just how big of an impact did winning the Maui Invitational make in 1994 for Bill Frieder's squad? ASU went from being not ranked in the Nov. 21 Associated Press poll to No. 12 on Nov. 28, tied for the fourth-biggest jump in AP Top-25 history, and at the time it was the second-highest leap for an unranked team. ASU went 24-9 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen that year. Here are the others:

4th, Kansas, Preseason to Nov. 27, 1989
8th, Arizona, Preseason to Nov. 20, 2001
10th, Notre Dame, Dec. 3 to Dec. 10, 2002
12th, North Carolina, Nov. 26 to Dec. 3, 2003
12th, Duke, Nov. 20 to Nov. 27, 1995
12th, Arizona State, Nov. 21 to Nov. 28, 1994

LATE SEASON NOTE: 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.

WHO ELSE IN PAC-10 HAS TWO McDONALD ALL-AMERICANS?: ASU has two McDonald's All-Americans on its roster in 2006-2007 with freshmen James Harden (2007) and sophomore Eric Boateng (2005) in uniform. Other Pac-10 teams with McDonald's All-Americans in 2006-2007 include Arizona (Jerryd Bayless in 2007, Chase Budinger in 2006 and Jawann McClellan in 2004), Stanford (Brook and Robin Lopez in 2006), UCLA (Kevin Love from 2007 and James Keefe in 2006), Washington (Jon Brockman in 2005), Oregon (Malik Hairston in 2004) and USC (O.J. Mayo from 2007).

HAS ASU HAD MANY McDONALD'S ALL-AMERICANS PRIOR TO BOATENG AND HARDEN?: Herb Sendek's first recruit at ASU was Duke transfer Eric Boateng, a 6-10 2005 McDonald's All-American who attended high school in Delaware. He became just the fourth Mickey D AA to appear on an ASU roster, joining Jamal Faulkner (1989), Chris Sandle (1984) and Byron Scott (1979). James Harden is the fifth, but the first to sign out of high school since Chris Sandle in 1984 (Jamal Faulkner went one year of prep school prior to ASU).

CHECK OUT THIS TREE: Herb Sendek has six former assistants who are currently Division I head coaches. Here's the list: 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.

WHEN YOU PUT IT THIS WAY, IT REALLY IS IMPRESSIVE: Prior to last season, Herb Sendek took NC State to the previous five NCAA Tournaments (2002-2006). To compare it to the Pac-10, only three schools (and one current Pac-10 coach) 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, California (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 appearances in that time frame.

FRESHMEN STARTERS: ASU's three true freshmen made 69 starts in 2006-2007, as Christian Polk (26), Jerren Shipp (22) and Derek Glasser (21) were regulars during pregame introductions. 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.

"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.

OPENING GAME NOTE: With ASU losing its top two scorers from 2005-2006 in Kevin Kruger (15.0 ppg.) and Bryson Krueger (12.3) in the summer, its three true freshmen perimeter players (Christian Polk, Jerren Shipp and Derek Glasser) received extensive minutes. Both Shipp and Polk started the opener, becoming just the fifth and sixth freshmen to start an opener in 14 seasons, joining Tron Smith and Keith Wooden (2003-2004), Ike Diogu (2002-2003) and Donnell Knight (1999-2000). It marked just the second time two Sun Devil freshmen had started an opener in the 15 seasons.

1990-1991: Jamal Faulkner, Stevin Smith
1991-1992: Mario Bennett, Tony Ronaldson
1992-1993: Ron Riley
1999-2000: Donnell Knight
2002-2003: Ike Diogu
2003-2004: Tron Smith, Keith Wooden
2006-2007: Christian Polk, Jerren Shipp

INTRIGUING SECOND HALF OF PAC-10: In the final nine regular season games (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...ASU forced 72 second-half turnovers in the nine games and committed just 54...the Sun Devils held Cal on March 3 to just 5-of-18 (.278) shooting and 16 points in the second half...ASU 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 held it to just 6-of-21 (.286) shooting...ASU outscored Washington State 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 each its final 10 games.

D IS GOOD: The Sun Devils finished third in Pac-10 games in scoring defense at 61.7 points per game, and the other six 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 field goal percentage defense (.437) in league games, despite blocking just 23 shots in the 18 league games (ninth in the loop). ASU gave up just 61.8 points per game overall, the fourth-best mark in ASU history and the lowest since the 1949-50 squad gave up 59.8.

EXAMPLES OF THE D: 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.

NO SOPHOMORE JINX: Jeff Pendergraph, a 2006 Pac-10 All-Freshmen selection and 2007 Pac-10 Honorable Mention pick, averaged 11.0 points and 9.6 boards in the final 10 games (12.3 ppg. and 9.3 rpg. in final 24), had eight double-doubles (13 in career) and 11 games of double-digit rebounds. He finished second in the Pac-10 in field goal percentage (.553), rebounding (8.9), offensive rebounding (3.33) and fourth in minutes (35.50) in league games. He ranked second in overall games in rebounding (9.1) and second in field goal percentage (.551) and led the league in offensive boards (3.93). He was perfect in eight field goals at Washington St. (Jan. 4) and grabbed 19 boards at Oregon (Feb. 8) and vs. Colgate (Dec. 19), the most by a Sun Devil since Mike Batiste had 20 vs. Wagner on Nov. 19, 1997). In his past 37 games dating to Feb. 4 of 2006, he is averaging 12.7 ppg. and 8.8 rpg. He has a chance to lead ASU in rebounding for the third straight season, something only Ike Diogu (2002-05) and Al Nealey (1957-60) have accomplished.

DEPARTURES: The team Herb Sendek took over in April of 2006 changed dramatically in the summer when seniors-to-be and starters Kevin Kruger and Bryson Krueger departed. Kevin, who led UNLV to the 2007 Sweet Sixteen and was named the Mountain West Conference Tournament MVP, averaged 15.0 ppg. in 2005-06 for ASU and played an ASU record 39.0 minutes per game. He played 87 games and scored 912 points in his three-year ASU career, and was the only player ranked in eight Pac-10 categories. Bryson averaged 12.3 points and shot 40.7 percent (88-of-216) from the three-point stripe and started 45 games in career. The other reason ASU's freshmen had to play so many minutes was the departure of six others in the previous three years who would have been on that squad. Wilfried Fameni (played with 2007 NCAA Tournament participant VCU), Chris Low, Tron Smith (St. Mary's) and Keith Wooden (played with 2007 NCAA Tournament participant North Texas) were freshmen in 2003-2004 who transferred while 2004-2005 freshmen Craig Austin and Tim Pierce (San Jose St.) left the program after one year.

SO WITH THOSE GUYS LEAVING: Three true freshmen combined to average 87.3 minutes, all above the 27-minute mark, and made 69 starts...point guard Derek Glasser averaged 32.2 minutes in conference play, the third-most by a Sun Devil freshman in ASU's 29-year Pac-10 history...Christian Polk, with 64 three-pointers, fell two three balls short of the ASU freshmen record set by Ron Riley in 1992-93 of 66. Jerren Shipp (36 and eighth) and Derek Glasser (34 and ninth) also are among the top 10 ASU freshmen three ball shooters...Polk's 26 starts tied for sixth-best among ASU freshmen...Glasser finished 17 assists shy of the Sun Devil record for assists by a freshmen of 114 set by Bobby Thompson in 1983-84. Eddie House is second on the list with 108 in 1996-97...Polk's 12.0 points per game mark is seventh on the ASU freshmen list...Derek Glasser finished 16-of-32 (.500) from the three-point stripe in the final nine games after starting year 18-of-69 (.261).

MANY WINS, MANY PLACES: When it comes time to play away from Tempe, Herb Sendek has a good map. In his career, Coach Sendek has won 259 games in 21 states, plus two wins in Puerto Rico and one in Washington D.C. North Carolina (153) and Ohio (51) lead the way as he was the head coach in both states, and he also has posted wins in Florida and Arizona (seven each), Michigan (six), South Carolina and Virginia (five each), Georgia and Indiana (four each), Massachusetts (three), California, Texas and Maryland (two each). One-win states are Alabama, Utah, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Nevada, Kentucky and Illinois.

THE HEAD COACH: Herb Sendek finished his 14th 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 262-180 (.592) in 14 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 first-year coach Tony Bennett of WSU, yet his 254 career wins and six NCAA Tournament wins entering the 2006-07 were fourth in the league. 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 (currently 24 at Arizona), Ralph Miller (19 at Oregon State), Mike Montgomery (18 at Stanford), Ben Braun (11 at California) and Ernie Kent (10 at Oregon).

FREE THROWS: In his 10 seasons at NC State, Coach Sendek's teams led the ACC four times in free throw percentage, including three straight seasons from 2002-2004. In 2004 his NC State squad led the nation and set the ACC record by shooting .799 from the charity stripe. His 2005-2006 team shot .751 (second in the ACC to Duke) and was 16th in the nation. His poorest free throw shooting team was his first year (1996-97) when they shot 64.9 percent. While at NC State, his Wolfpack squads shot 71.3 percent. ASU was 147-of-210 (.700) from the free throw line in its final 17 games and 103-of-147 (.701) in the final 11 games.