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ASU ready to tip off season vs. Central Arkansas

With college and pro football in full swing and with the mania surrounding a Presidential election, you may not know that college basketball is just about here.

The season gets underway Friday for many teams around the country, and Herb Sendek’s new-look Arizona State Sun Devils will start Saturday when they host the Central Arkansas Bears at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.

Sendek, who is entering his seventh year as the Sun Devils’ head coach, is trying to guide his team out of a two-year postseason absence that has seen them go 22-40 over that span.

While talking with the media in Tempe Tuesday, the veteran coach stopped short of projecting a record or mentioning the postseason.

“Our primary goal is to have a program that we all be proud of and it’s easy to cheer for,” Sendek said. “That pretty much covers a wide canvas of things, and we do. We have a program that’s easy to cheer for right now.”

One of those “easy-to-cheer” players is fifth-year senior Carrick Felix, who has assumed much of the leadership responsibility for the Sun Devils in the aftermath of Trent Lockett’s transfer to Marquette. Felix is ASU’s top returning scorer and is working on a Master’s Degree.

“If you can’t get behind a guy like that, it’s hard to imagine,” Sendek said. “We have guys that are really easy to cheer for, easy to be proud of.”

Felix, a Goodyear Millennium High product, isn’t shying away from bold statements about the upcoming season.

“We have a chance to do something that’s never been done in ASU’s history, and that’s to be able to win a Pac-12 championship, which I think we’re very capable of doing,” he said.

Prognosticators don’t see promising things for this year’s Sun Devils. The Pac-12 media picked ASU to finish 11th in the conference, which would almost certainly ensure a third-losing season, something Sendek has never experienced in his 19 years as a collegiate head coach.

Sendek isn’t concerned about the past.

“We spent a lot of time breaking that down, talking about it and the larger purpose right now is to focus on this team, today,” Sendek said. “I think the need to plow ground that we’ve already gone over several times has lost its purpose, and the larger purpose is this week and our opening game.”

ASU’s opponent, Central Arkansas, is coached by former NBA standout Corliss Williamson, who enters his third season at the helm. The Bears have gone 13-45 under Williamson’s tutelage, but have their top three scorers back from last year’s squad.

Sendek wouldn’t give too much information about what his starting lineup would look like when the Devils take the floor Saturday.

“I have a pretty good idea in my mind but we’ll get through the rest of this week’s practice and make that final determination some time later in the week,” he said “I learned that from football coaches.”

Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou contributed to this report