Every Arizona State sport is now in the offseason but that doesn't mean the athletes aren't still hard at work. This especially rings true with the basketball team, which has a host of newcomers including freshmen and junior college transfers.
Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek sat down with a small group of local media over lunch on Wednesday to discuss a variety of topics not only involving the Arizona State basketball program but across the Pac-12 basketball landscape as well.
A changing style of play
Sendek showed he was willing to turn the tempo of play up a notch when Jahii Carson arrived on campus. It went from half court play and zone defense to getting shots up in 12 seconds or less and flying down the court to try and tire out the opponent. This will still be the case next season but without Carson or Jordan Bachynski some things will change naturally on the court.
"We're going to have to learn to protect the basket in other ways, we're going to have to be better on the ball on the perimeter," Sendek said. "The way we're going to play, our guys are going to be able to attack with a lot of freedom and I don't want them to put themselves in a box with a certain position."
It seems like Sendek is already thinking outside of the box about next season. Every team puts five players on the court in certain positions. These are usually a point guard, shooting guard, a wing, a forward and a center but Sendek will try to work with players on their mental game as well to keep their mind open to their job on the court.
"We're really going to sell our guys on ‘you're not a position' and I think that's a true statement," Sendek said. "I don't want our guys thinking of themselves in terms of positions this year. That's not how we're going to play and it's really a label without a lot of substance."
Newcomers trickling in
JUCO transfers Willie Atwood, Savon Goodman and Roosevelt Scott are already on campus and at the Weatherup Center on an almost daily basis getting shots up and working on their game. Shaquielle McKissic is still in town and I saw Bo Barnes at the facility Wednesday afternoon as well.
"They (Atwood, Goodman and Scott) are three humble hungry young men.They are passionate about basketball and they're eager to get better, " Sendek said. "I'm really excited about their addition to our team. I think they all help our athleticism and I think they will all add to our toughness."
Tra Holder, Connor MacDougall and Kodi Justice will all be on campus working out by Jun. 23 and the whole team including point guard Gerry Blakes will be together by the first week of July.
Potential renovations to Wells Fargo Arena
Wells Fargo Arena turned 40 years old this past spring and with the renovations to Sun Devil Stadium moving along, talk about upgrading Wells Fargo is rapidly gaining momentum as well.
"Wells Fargo is a tired building and it needs help. Ray (Anderson) understands that and he is all on board with that," Sendek said. "It's just a matter of getting all the information together and obviously like anything else raising the money to accomplish it."
Sendek added that the first step would be to do an assessment of how much the renovations would cost. If that cost is too high then it would be time to start the discussion about building a new arena for the Sun Devils to play in. Sendek continued on saying that if Anderson has his way, renovations could be coming "sooner rather than later."
An issue with scheduling
Last season the Pac-12 scheduled road games in pairs on either a Tuesday and Saturday or Wednesday and Sunday. This caused travel issues for teams in the conference.
"You're faced with choices," Sendek said. "For the first time ever in college basketball we have this unusual travel schedule."
He cited two instances last season. The first was when the Sun Devils had a 9 p.m. tip off in Colorado on a Wednesday night and didn't play again until 6 p.m. Sunday night against Utah in Salt Lake City. This left the team with the decision to either stay and acclimate to the altitude and miss more school or come back early Thursday morning only to fly out again on Saturday. Another issue arose near the end of the season when the team had to leave on a Monday, play Oregon on Tuesday and then wait until the following Saturday to play Oregon State. This caused the players to miss a full week of school.
"The league is taking is taking a look at that along with our television partners to see what can be done to shorten the window between games," Sendek said. " There is a cumlitive effect on teams with that much time on the road."
Sendek added that it had been discussed at the Pac-12 spring meetings and that conference officials had responded positively to making a possible change to the way games are scheduled.
The USA Basketball effect
USA basketball announced a plan in July of 2013 to relocate its headquarters to Tempe at the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive. This would mean a rise in talented high school and college players coming in and out of the Valley.
The headquarters is currently located in Colorado Springs, Colorado so a situation where it will be so close to a university campus has never been dealt with before. Can Sendek recruit or have contact with these players and coaches when they come into town? Can they take visits to the Arizona State campus and its basketball facility? Is it an unfair advantage for the Sun Devils to have it so close by? These are all questions that remain unanswered for the time being.
" I don't know precisely what that residual effect is going to be," Sendek said. "Anytime you have that kind of traffic coming in you know coaches and players it can only help our basketball climate and environment here so I think it's a tremendous positive for us."
Sendek added that he'll have to check with the compliance office on a lot of these issues but said he's more excited for the potential effect and what it could do for the Valley community. If nothing else he can swap ideas with some of the brightest coaches from across the country when they come into town.
- Sendek was very pleased with how the team's out-of-conference schedule shaped up.
- On Carson and Bachynski's prep for the NBA draft: "Both guys feel like they've done well in workouts."
- I asked Sendek how he felt about the ACC and Big12 experimenting with a 30-second shot clock in some exhibition games before next season: "It won't effect us as fast as we're playing, they could trim it to 24 seconds and it won't effect us."
- Former guard Jermaine Marshall has workouts scheduled with the Boston Celtics on Jun. 14, Charlotte Hornets on Jun. 16 and Cleveland Cavaliers on Jun. 18.