Oh the ever tumultuous bubble. It is what we live and die by. The Sun Devils have climbed their way back on to the bubble, perhaps flirting with a tournament bid and a regular season championship all at the same time. In a normal year, when you are fighting for the conference championship, you are probably pretty safe to make the NCAA Tournament. But this is 2010, a new decade, and hopefully an outlier of the future of Pac-10 basketball. Yeah, we've all heard about the losses to the NBA this year depleting the talent pool. But, perhaps the biggest problem is the replacement of that talent. There is no John Wall. There are no Scottie Reynolds. Go to the Eastcoast and ask for who the best player in the Pac-10 is and you'll likely hear crickets chirping...if even. Yes the Pac-10 is down. And that means we are stuck in the bubble talk until Selection Sunday (unless we take matters in to our own hands).
Maybe this will send the message to schedule some tougher teams. Make a trip to schools like Syracuse, UNC, Kansas, Michigan State, and you will be rewarded come bubble busting time. Nonetheless we are where we are...squarely on the bubble. Joe Lunardi has ASU as the last team out. Go to the front page of ESPN's CBB section and there stands Rihards Kuksiks himself. Apparently he is the symbol of bubble-ism. I know what you are thinking, NOT AGAIN!. Last time we were on the bubble we saw a U of A team which we not only beat twice but also had a better record then, scheme their way onto the dance floor much to the dismay of Sparkyland. We watched an under .500 Georgia team win the SEC tournament and burst our bubble like a bunch of 7 year olds on a sunny day in the park.
This year can be different. I feel it. We are a team. One of the best teams in the nation. Not because we are more talented. Not because we can defeat the powerhouses. Frankly, we probably can't do either. But there is no school that defines team better than the Sun Devils. We have the senior leadership of a 4-year starting PG. We have a sharpshooting junior who can be electric on the floor, but isn't afraid to pass. We have a one game resurgence of a center whose career can be summarized as "clumsy and a disappointment." We have a European influence, in Kuksiks who when on fire, is ON FIRE. We have freshmen contributing serviceable minutes off the bench. We have the smarts of an NBA coaches son. This team is unselfish and hardworking and when it comes to March Madness, one man shows don't prove to win championships.
With 3 games remaining on our schedule before we head to LA for the Pac-10 tournament, the Sun Devils sit where no one thought they would. 2nd place, just a half game behind Saturday's opponent, the Cal Bears. The Sun Devils were expected to be the bottom feeder in the Pac-10 after the departure of Harden and Pendy. Not under Herb Sendeks watch. In who I strongly feel is one of the best coaches in the nation, the Sun Devils have rallied and proved the critics wrong. Saturday's matchup gives the Devils a shot at what 6 years ago seemed impossible. Winning the Pac-10. I'll be covering the game Saturday live from Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, CA. In what I expect to be an electric atmosphere, rarely felt by Sun Devil basketball fans, I can see the Devils prevailing and continuing to prove everyone wrong.
My prediction: ASU 65 Cal 59