Yes, the Sun Devils are 7-4 after playing six of their first 11 games on the road or on a neutral court. Sure, they defeated a tough, talented Nevada team on the road in Reno. Alright, St. John's has a lot of tall, athletic guys.
But in truth, this season has been an uphill battle from the onset. Coach Herb Sendek has struggled to find the right mix of players to put into the rotation, and the veterans on the team aren't producing as we would have hoped.
Sendek and the Sun Devils are now starting Pac-10 conference play, beginning with a road trip to visit the Oregon schools. Oregon State is struggling far more than ASU; the Beavers have already lost to powerhouses such as Seattle University, Texas Southern, Utah Valley State, and Montana.
I honestly believe the Sun Devils have more talent and better coaching than OSU, but road games in the Pac-10 are never easy.
After that game on December 30th, the Sun Devils travel to Eugene to take on the Ducks, who are 7-5 and have lost to some bad teams as well. ASU could actually emerge from their first road trip in the Pac-10 with a sweep, but I have to see a lot more effort on both ends of the floor before I can get behind this team with any confidence.
A few quick suggestions for Herb Sendek:
- Play the kids more: Chanse Creekmur, Keala King, and Kyle Cain need as much experience as they can get in the early going. The opposition is not going to get any easier, and I am a bit flummoxed as to why Sendek insists on playing Kuksiks and McMillan even when they aren't producing. I just want to see some potential!
- Ride Kyle Cain: The guy is a rebounding machine (30 in the past two games) and is only getting better. Working to develop his offensive game will pay huge dividends down the line.
- Give man-to-man defense a chance: The zone looks porous and easily defeated. Play some man-to-man with the new kids you have recruited! They are athletic.