It's finally basketball season. After a 2009-2010 campaign that exceeded expectations in Tempe, Herb Sendek and the Arizona St. Sun Devils kick off their 2010-2011 schedule with a tough road game against the New Mexico Lobos, a team that was ranked 8th overall to close out last year in the AP Top 25.
After losing their two highest scoring players from last year's team, New Mexico is rebuilding under the guidance of head coach Steve Alford. Playing at The Pit is an extremely difficult task for any team, but the Sun Devils may find this opening game particularly challenging.
Sendek is going to work a lot of new players into the mix Tuesday evening, but the starting lineup may be comprised of returning lettermen. Projected lineup:
PG: Jamelle McMillan, SR
SG: Ty Abbott, SR
F: Rihards Kuksiks, SR
F: Trent Lockett, SO
C: Rusian Pateev, SO
ASU players to watch: Corey Hawkins and Keala King. These freshmen will make a big impact early and often. There will be bumps in the road, but they were highly regarded coming out of high school, deciding to go to Arizona State and get playing time right away.
New Mexico player to watch: Alex Kirk. A freshman out of Los Alamos, NM, Kirk recorded a double-double in his first career game, posting 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Detroit Titans in UNM's season opener. Kirk is 6'11" and weighs 230 pounds, and could be trouble for the soft interior game of ASU.
Projected result: ASU will get off to a slow start, but will pull away late in the second half to win their first game of 2010-2011 by a score of 64-59. Ty Abbott scored 18 points in the winning effort.