With an 11-2 record after a much more difficult non-conference schedule to start the 2013-14 season, ASU is in good position for a push for a NCAA tournament appearance.
But don’t ask Herb Sendek if that makes him feel any better going into Pac-12 conference play.
“As you look into our conference right now, it’s amazing how good it is,” Sendek said. “And we have to play all of those teams twice. I mean, there isn’t an easy game on that schedule so how could I feel comfortable?”
He has a point. The Pac-12 is as good as ever.
Nine of the 12 teams have nine wins or more. Three teams are ranked, two of which are ranked in the top 10 with Arizona being number one. Every team is above .500. And the conference itself has plenty of marquee wins in non-conference. Arizona with wins over Duke and at Michigan. Colorado beat Kansas. Stanford beat UConn and that just names a few.
“We have got to find ways to get better,” Sendek mentioned. “We have to scratch and scrap and find ways to get better every day across the board.”
ASU only had two hick-ups in the non-conference. They struggled against a very good Creighton team and Jahii Carson dealt with injuries in a loss to Miami. But other than that, wins over UNLV on the road and Marquette at home has this team showing what they can be capable of.
Like last year, it will start and finish with their point guard.
“We were hoping to come into the non-conference with no losses but we have some sneaky wins in there that I think is building our confidence,” Carson explained. “Me and him (Jermaine Marshall), Jon (Gilling) and J.B. (Jordan Bachynski) our confidence keeps boosting. I think we can outplay in the second half.”
One of the biggest things that was missing last season was a consistent outside threat for Jahii Carson to go to when defenses collapse on him. They found that person in senior graduate transfer Jermaine Marshall who has three 20 point games already this season. The addition of Marshall brings a different element to this Sun Devil team.
The biggest things that Sendek has harped on with this team since camp first broke for this season was rebounding and turnovers. Besides Bachynski, who is averaging 9.8 boards per game, not one other player is averaging more than five per game.
The gauntlet that is the Pac-12 begins at home for ASU as they take on Washington on Thursday and Washington State on Saturday.