A mere two weeks ago, I was sour on the Devils. After getting swept out of southern California, ASU was 10-5 and thoroughly mediocre in the eyes of, well, everyone.
Here we are, 14 days later, and Arizona State is 14-5 coming off a sweep of the entire Pacific Northwest. At 4-2 in Pac-10 play, ASU currently leads the conference.
Where do we stand as a team?
- The Sun Devils are NOT a Top 25 team. Despite this hot stretch, 14-5 is not solid enough to warrant a spot in the rankings. Even if we somehow did earn that honor, we'd have a large target on our backs, and this ASU team is not equipped for that at this point in the season.
- Our core has solidified and ASU is playing seamless basketball. Ty Abbott has shown a great deal of consistency over the past four wins, asserting himself both offensively and in the paint as a rebounding force. Derek Glasser has taken good care of the ball and is getting plenty of chances from beyond the arc. Rihards Kuksiks is delivering clutch three after clutch three. Ruslan Pateev is finding open men from the inside out, and Trent Lockett is displaying excellent athleticism and basketball IQ.
- Our defense is ridiculously good, but wait until we play someone with a legitimate scoring threat in the post. I know this is only theoretical, but as I was watching Michigan take down #15 UConn this afternoon, I couldn't imagine the Sun Devils having an answer against a strong big like Gavin Edwards. We play well in the Pac-10 due to the lack of skill at the center position, but that may not translate well in any postseason appearances we receive (and at this point, it's fairly safe to assume we are at least NIT-bound). The good news is, we don't have any non-Pac-10 games left on the docket.
- We will have a better idea of how good we are after Saturday's showdown with Arizona. Sure, it's a down year for the Wildcats, but they won't leave Tempe without giving ASU everything they have. Check back here later on for more coverage of the game.
Midseason grade: B+
While this grade may seem high, we must consider that 2009-2010 was supposed to be a rebuilding year after losing two NBA-level players. To be leading the conference 6 games into the schedule is a huge victory for this program, and we must not forget the humble roots of pre-Herb (Rob Evans).