What a difference a year can make for Herb Sendek and the Arizona State men’s basketball program.
On Saturday, ASU notched their eighth win on the season against Cal State Northridge 87-76, due in large part to center Jordan Bachynski’s first triple-double (13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks) in school history.
While Bachynski has made tremendous strides as Vince Marotta reported Saturday, and senior Carrick Felix (15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game) continues to provide tremendous leadership, the Sun Devils owe a lot of their quick start to a precocious redshirt freshman.
Jahii Carson, a former standout at Mesa High School, leads the team in scoring at 18.6 points per game and has completely changed the pace of Sendek’s offense.
Often thought to be a methodical, half-court team, the Sun Devils have relied on Carson’s speed and ability to control tempo at the offensive end and the returns have been staggering.
In their first nine games, the Sun Devils have scored 79 points or more in five contests, and have not scored less than 64 points in any game all season.
Heading into this week’s slate of games against Hartford and Cal State Nortridge, ASU had increased their possessions per 40 minutes from 63.4 (2011-12) to 74.6 (2012-13).
As Sendek explained to BasketballProspectus.com, Carson is reason No. 1 for that transformation.
Arizona State’s tempo transformation is one of the more intriguing in the country. Unlike many others on this list, the Sun Devils do not have a new coach, and indeed the coach they have has a track record of slowness… Sendek says the change is largely due to the presence of redshirt freshman Jahii Carson. The guard’s recruitment was predicated on the ASU staff implementing a game plan that works to one of Carson’s strengths, namely, making plays in the open court. Carson has been prone to committing a few too many turnovers, but otherwise he’s been great in the early going.
Through the first nine games of his collegiate career, Carson also leads the team in assists (5.4 per game) and is shooting 48.4 percent for the field.
For his efforts, ESPN.com’s John Gasaway ranks Carson as the No. 11 freshman in America through the first month of the season.
The Sun Devils’ 8-1 start is their best since the 2008-09 season, when they began 12-1.
In 2011-12, ASU didn’t win its eighth game until February 9 against Utah.