If you’ve watched Arizona State basketball during the Herb Sendek coaching era, one thing has probably stood out to you. That, of course, being the deliberate tempo with which the Sun Devils operated on offense.
Paired with Sendek’s matchup-zone defense, the Sun Devils played a slow-down style of offense designed to keep the score down and give ASU a chance to “win ugly.”
That’s about to change.
“I would be hard-pressed to believe that anybody will push the ball faster than Arizona State, outside of maybe an outlier, you know someone who chooses to play like Paul Westhead or something of that nature,” Sendek announced during the team’s annual media day in Tempe Tuesday.
Last season, Sendek’s team ranked tied for 299th in the nation (out of 338 teams) in scoring offense, putting up an average of just 61 points per game, so such a proclamation can only be considered bold.
The big reason for Sendek’s view on tempo changing is the presence of freshman guard Jahii Carson. The highly-recruited star from Mesa High School had to sit out the entire 2011-12 campaign after being ruled academically ineligible, although he was allowed to practice with the team. Carson averaged 32.2 points and 6.6 assists per game during his senior season.
“I think I’m one of the fastest guys in the country and with the offense that coach is putting in, I think I’m going to flourish in that offense,” Carson said. “I think everybody’s looking forward to pushing the ball up the court and beating the defense down and scoring easy buckets.”
Sun Devil fans have anxiously awaited Carson’s arrival on the court, especially during a trying 10-21 season that saw ASU finish 10th in the Pac-12. It was equally difficult for Carson to sit out and watch, but his head coach was impressed with the way he conducted himself.
“I think Jahii handled a very challenging circumstance exceptionally well with a lot of grace and a lot of dignity,” Sendek said. “To be put in the public light it the way that he was and to handle it with the grace that he did, to me, was really impressive.”
Now that he’s academically eligible, Carson can’t wait to get going.
“Oh, I’m ready,” he said. “I wish the game was tomorrow. I’m chomping at the bit, ready to go out there and get it.”
Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou contributed to this report