The Arizona State men's basketball team is having a terrible season.
This is not breaking news by any stretch of the imagination. The on-court product has resulted in an 8-19 record thus far, and off the court the team has battled Jahii Carson's ineligibility, injuries, suspensions and Keala King's dismissal.
This bears itself out in the stats. ASU ranks 317th in scoring, 322nd in rebounding and 12th in turnovers per game, among other stats.
However, through the muck and mire of the 2011-2012 season, there are some positive numbers to be found.
Team Field Goal Percentage: 45.4% (88th among Division I)
Outside of Trent Lockett, last year was a very bad shooting season for the Sun Devils. While Lockett was connecting at a 51.6% clip, the team's other top shooters--Ty Abbott, Rihards Kuksiks and Jamelle McMillan--combined to shoot 39.7% (285 of 718). That led to ASU's dreadful ranking of 202nd overall.
ASU didn't become a squad of snipers this season, but gains have been made. Their three most frequent shooters this season--Lockett, Kyle Cain and Carrick Felix--have combined to shoot 46.1%, helping to raise the team's rank nearly 120 spots to 88th.
Team Free Throw Rate: 40.5 (66th among Division I)
One of the most discussed aspects coming into the season was the promise of a much faster offensive pace, which during the Sendek era had moved with DMV-like speed. So far, progress has been made.
Free throw rate is a stat that roughly measures a team's pace, taking into account free throws and felt goals attempted. Last season, the Sun Devils ranked 332nd in the country, which is spot-on when it came to their glacial pace. This year, they are getting to the up to 66th a very encouraging sign, especially factoring in the absence of Carson, whose dynamic playmaking skills where the centerpiece to ASU's desired attack.
With no seniors on the roster, adding Carson to a nucleus of current players should continue that number's rise in 2012-2013.
Team True Shooting Percentage: 54.6% (94th among Division I)
True shooting percentage is a metric that factors in all shots (two-point, three-point and free throws) and reveals points generated per shot attempt.
Due to the team's shooting woes last season, the Sun Devils ranked a terrible 210th in the country. Thanks to the gains discussed above, as well as improvements at the free throw line, the team has now cracked the top 100.
Trent Lockett's 3-Point Shooting Percentage: 42.2%
Lockett is ASU's best player and leading scorer, and this season, he has been shooting more three-pointers than he ever has. Thankfully, he has also been shooting those 3s better.
As a freshman, he shot a woeful 21.1%, but during his breakout sophomore campaign that improved to 32.3%.
Despite battling injuries that forced him out of six games, Lockett has already exceeded last year's three-point total with 45 and hit on 42.2%. If he had enough attempts to qualify nationally, he would be tied as the 22nd most accurate player from beyond the arc.
With his annual improvements across the board, this is another encouraging sign for the beleaguered ASU basketball fans.
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