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ASU Basketball: Sun Devils begin season with fresh faces

There are a lot of a new faces as the Sun Devils begin preparations for their 2014-2015 season.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

"The Big 3"  era is over, not only for the Miami Heat, but also for the Arizona State Sun Devils. Jahii Carson, Jermaine Marshall and Jordan Bachynski have all moved on, leaving a lot of questions surrounding this year's team. Questions that right now, Herb Sendek does not have the answers to.

"The one thing I can tell you about our new players and the team in general is they are a group that is eager to learn and they are determinted to get better,"  Sendek said at the team's media day Thursday afternoon. "They are a very coachable group. The only thing that really stands out is, they are a really high energy team. I love this team's motor."

Sendek and his coaching staff have not had too much interaction with their team. Coaches are permitted just two hours per week of instruction during the offseason according to NCAA rules. However, Sendek already noticed one major difference in this year's squad compared to last year's.

"The one glaring difference is we do not have the basket protection that Jordan (Bachynski) gave us," said Sendek. "So we are going to have to defend the post differently than we have in the past. We are going to have to make up for the fact that we do not have the all-time shot blocker (in the Pac-12) at the rim to erase mistakes that we had time and time again."

The Sun Devils brought in seven players in its 2014 recruiting class, including four from the junior college level. The stars of the group are forwards Savon Goodman and Willie Atwood.

Goodman was rated as the No. 72 overall recruit in the class of 2012, he played his freshman year at UNLV, before being dismissed from the team before the 2013-2014 season. Goodman spent last season at Indian Hills Community College under now Arizona State assistant Barret Perry, however he did not play.

Atwood chose Arizona State over Iowa and Florida State, he averaged 20.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last season at Connors State Community College. Also joining the Sun Devils from the junior college ranks are guards Gerry Blakes and Roosevelt Scott.

"They don't have, as a rule of thumb, a sense of entitlement," said Sendek about junior college recruits. "I see our guys being very grateful for opportunities given to them."

The Sun Devils have had success with junior college players in the past, most noticebly with Carrick Felix and Shaquille McKissic.

Arizona State lost its three leading scorers from a season ago and Sendek was quick to point out that this team does not have the big names of past seasons.

"I don't know if we have any star power," said Sendek. "There is nobody on our team that is on anybody's draft board right now going into the season but we have a number of guys who are good players. Who I think will play well together and will allow us to come at teams with more depth than we have had in the past."

One theme of this year's team will be mix matching of positions. Unlike past years, the Sun Devils do not feature a true center and a true point guard. This team is very athletic and Sendek says this may be his fastest team to date.

"I would say no team we have had resembles this team," said Sendek. "Number one, a lot of players are about the same in terms of depth and number two I think this is our quickest team top to bottom. I think this team as the potential to have the edge of toughness that at times we have been wanting. They have a tremendous appetite to learn and be coached."

Another new addition to the team is Peery, the former head coach at Indian Hills Community College who coached both Scott and Goodman. Last season Indian Hills went 34-3 last season and in his three seasons, Peery had a home record of 60-1.

"I just love our staff right now. I think we have a group of superstars," said Sendek. "They are passionate about what they do and they have a great work ethic. Coach Peery has a wealth of experience, he's just a good person. The kind of guy who want your son to play for."

So, as of now the theme of the Arizona State basketball team is: mystery. Who will make up the scoring that Carson, Marshall and Bachynski contributed last year? Who will protect the rim on defense? How many of the new players are ready to contribute in the Pac-12?

The answers will begin to come during the next month, as Arizona State begins practice Monday.

Notes

  • Junior forward Eric Jacobsen looks like he has put on around 20-25 pounds and says he is up to around 255-260 pounds. He looked like the biggest player, physically, on the team.
  • Freshman guard Tra Holder said he's up from about 160 before the summer to 180 now.
  • Sendek stated that the only true point guard on the roster is freshman Tra Holder. The other two point guards, Chance Murry and Gerry Blakes are more like combo guards.
  • The Sun Devils will host an open practice on Oct. 11 at the Weaterup Center in Tempe, Ariz. from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.