It isn’t all bad news for the basketball teams in town.
The Phoenix Suns might be mired in a seven-game losing streak — their longest since February 2004 — but their collegiate counterparts in Tempe are going in a much different direction.
For the first time since the 2008-09 season, Herb Sendek and the ASU men’s basketball team are off to an 8-1 start. While they’ve yet to face stiff competition in their non-conference schedule, after a 10-win season a year ago, athletic director Steve Patterson is pleased with the quick turnaround.
“I’m really pleased,” Patterson told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Tuesday. “Jordan Bachynski went for the first triple-double in school history [against Cal State Northridge]. Jahii Carson is the real deal. Carrick Felix is really playing well and has really matured over the last year.
“This team is a lot of fun to watch.”
With Bachynski, Carson and Felix leading the way, the Sun Devils are averaging 79.0 points per game through their first nine games, good for third-best in the Pac-12 conference.
But even with their strides at the offensive end, ASU has remained true to their defense-first mentality. In their first nine games, the Sun Devils have not allowed a single opponent to shoot 50 percent or above.
So what’s the secret to the surprising start?
“I think they are really well-coached,” said Patterson referring to the job Sendek has done so far this season. “I think we certainly handle the ball much better with our new backcourt players. We’re able to get the ball over half court and get into our offense.
“I think Jonathan Gilling has matured and is shooting the ball better. Carrick Felix is really athletic, and we’re getting the ball up-and-down the court. And I like our coaching staff. A lot of great progress in just a year.”