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ASU loss to Fairfield was hard to watch

So after a long day of watching football, visiting with family and friends
and gorging yourself until the button on your pants was released for
relief, maybe you had some time in the evening to settle down on the
couch and watch ASU’s basketball team take on Fairfield on ESPN2.

If you did, chances are you dozed off. Go ahead and blame the
tryptophan from that third helping of white meat you devoured. The
likely culprit was the Sun Devils’ performance.

Goodness gracious, that was difficult to watch.

Arizona State’s men’s basketball team traveled across the country to
participate in the Old Spice Classic, one of many Thanksgiving holiday
tournaments to dot the landscape of college basketball during the long
weekend.

It looked like the Sun Devils also went back to the serving table for thirds
on everything as they came out flat. Arizona State didn’t
score a basket for nearly seven minutes to start the game in digging
themselves a hole they couldn’t climb out of in a lackluster 55-44 loss.

This isn’t even a knock on Fairfield. The Stags are a pretty good
program; they won 25 games a year ago and added transfer Rakim
Sanders from Boston College. Sanders made his mark in the game,
scoring 21 points, including 8 in the final three minutes that stretched a
one-point Fairfield lead to 12 at the half. He then scored 4 quick points
to start the 2nd half, as the Devils’ deficit suddenly grew to 17.

This is all about Arizona State. To call this year’s version of the Sun
Devils offensively challenged would be a tremendous understatement.
The simple fact is they don’t have a point guard who can run the offense
with any kind of efficiency.

Chris Colvin, a junior college transfer from Palm Beach CC by way of Iowa
State, has struggled with turnovers. Colvin has a negative assist-to-
turnover ratio (15 to 18) through 4 games. Sophomore Keala King,
playing out of position at the point, also has a negative ratio (8 to 13).

The Sun Devils’ best player, Trent Lockett, who is not a point guard, still
has a 1 to 13 assist-to-turnover ratio on the season. One assist? For
the season, the Devils have 40 assists and 78 turnovers. As Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic tweeted Friday
morning, Herb Sendek’s team has only two more made baskets than
turnovers on the year!

There could be help on the horizon in the form of highly-recruited guard
Jahii Carson out of Mesa High School, but he has yet to practice with the
team as he awaits word on his eligibilty from the NCAA Clearinghouse.

If and when Carson gets eligibility, he won’t cure the ills of this program.
There are a lot of deficiencies on this team. One is entertainment value.
Carrick Felix is a fun player to watch, Lockett is solid. But other than
those two, there’s nobody really for ASU fans to get excited about
watching.

And it’s not like this is a case of false advertising. We know by now that
Sendek-coached teams aren’t going to be full of tremendous athletes
that thrive in one-on-one situations. ASU plays boring basketball. Even
in 2008-09 with James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph on the roster, it was
good, fundamental basketball. The Sun Devils only averaged 69 points
per game on their way to 25 wins and a NCAA Tournament appearance.

Boring works, though, when you’re winning. When you’re losing, it’s a
reason to grab the remote.

Maybe Thursday night in Orlando was an anomaly. Despite being 1-3,
the Sun Devil offense hadn’t looked nearly that bad in previous games.

Or maybe it was just the tryptophan. With Wake Forest on the schedule
Friday, keep the players away from turkey sandwiches.