With ASU basketball tipping off today, the House of Sparky staff breaks down the season ahead.
Roundtable Question: What are your expectations for ASU basketball This Season?
Brad Denny: Basically, I think the goal of this season is to be able to answer the question "Is Herb Sendek the right guy for the job?" by the end of the year. No, ASU isn't going dancing, but after the turmoil of the last few seasons, the Sun Devils should be better. They have a potential star in Carson, some nice pieces like Felix and Gilling, and the new styles on both ends of the floor, along with the new assistant coaches, should get this team to somewhere in the neighborhood of respectability. If things come together and this team can get solidly into the teens in the win column, along with a genuine sense of momentum for next year, that's good. It's also fine if things don't work and it's realized a change in head coach has to be made. The only really bad outcome in my mind is another middling season and the same "Should Herb stay or go?" questions lingering. That's the kind of program purgatory that can't be allowed to continue.
Cody Ulm: I might be the only person alive who still believes Herb Sendek is the best coach this program can get but he'll have to prove it this season. By no means does proving it mean a NCAA tournament appearance though. Instead, I'd be proud of this team if they finished somewhere in the 5-8 range of the Pac-12 and gave some conference foes a run for their money. Jordan Bachynski, Carrick Felix and Jonathan Gilling comprise a solid yet slightly unspectacular nucleus that could be one superstar away from Pac-12 darkhorse status. Fans should not be counting on Jahii Carson to instantly overtake that role though. The talent is there and I'm not doubting he'll flash his dominance this season but we have to remember that he's essentially a freshman leading a bottom-feeding team that already lost most of its talent to transfers. Who I'm really excited about though is Evan Gordon. The kid can flat out score so if Carson can run the offense smoothly, ASU might surprise some Pac-12 pundits. But I'd just suggest curbing your expectations somewhere around NIT territory. And even that might be asking for a little too much.
Ryan Bafaloukos: I think ASU will improve from last season. The Sun Devils have a lot of solid role players with guys like Jonathan Gilling and Carrick Felix, and they have a superstar-type player in Jahii Carson. I will admit that there are a lot of questions surrounding this team. How good is Jahii Carson? What will the Sun Devils get out of transfers Bo Barnes and Evan Gordon? Have our bigs improved at all? I think our backcourt is better than last season and I like our young talent in the front court. I think this team will win 15 games and finish a game below .500.
Nick Marek: There is no way to sugar coat this season to make it any sweeter. The Sun Devils men's basketball program is in a rebuilding year. After head coach Herb Sendek received a contract extension last season, the question needs to be asked "Is he worth it?" Personally, I do not think he is. Yes Jahii Carson is a bright spot this season and all eyes will be on the freshman point guard, but fans cannot forget that Carson was academically ineligible last season. Chance Creekmur opted to leave the basketball program, Keala King and Kyle Cain were dismissed from the team, and Trent Lockett transferred to Marquette mainly for family matters but also because ASU won only ten games all of last season. I think by now everyone knows my stance on a potential postseason for this team. There is not a chance for the NCAA tournament this season, however, there is a possibility for the NIT's thanks to the weak non-conference schedule. This season will answer a lot of questions, especially the status of coach Sendek moving forward. Because this is a rebuilding year, anything more than ten wins this season would be a success. It's too much to ask transfers Evan Gordon and Bo Barnes to fill the void in the Sun Devils line-up in one year. The team needs to find their identity first. Fans will know by December whether or not ASU is making steps forward or staying stagnant.
Cory Williams: ASU has a really soft OOC schedule. This is necessary, as the Devils will need some time to gel and become an effective unit prior to the start of conference play. I am looking towards the Arkansas and DePaul games as big markers for our success in 2012 prior to Pac-12 action. With Jahii Carson finally eligible, this team will show marked improvement over 2011-2012. Evan Gordon and Bo Barnes will be factors, and Jonathan Gilling will keep improving. There's a long way to go, but the Sun Devils finally have something to look forward to, and that's 16 wins.
Ben Haber: ASU basketball has a plethora of lingering questions to answer yet should be drastically improved. Coach Herb Sendek is clearly on the hot seat and may need a successful 2012-2013 campaign to retain his job. Interestingly enough, the loss of Trent Lockett has gone under the radar but could hurt big time. As Lockett departs, Jahii Carson enters, the electrifying point guard posse's elite talent. The expectations for Carson are high and deservedly so, but fans must understand freshman struggle getting adjusted at times. Another player to watch out for is the sole senior, Carrick Felix. The lengthy wingmen is poised for a breakout campaign. ASU will be running a man-man defense and moving on past the days of Sendek's matchup zone. The Sun Devils athletic roster is better suited for this standard tactic. In addition, ASU's anemic early season schedule can provide great confidence, assuming the cards play out properly. Confidence can do wonders; just ask my LA Dodgers who at one point sported the best record in the MLB with an incompetent lineup. On the down side, ASU is better but not good. Pac-12 play will go through Tucson and Westwood. My overall expectations are 18 wins, 7th lace in conference play and capped of by an NIT birth.