March is finally here, and that means one thing — tournament time.
The Arizona State basketball team currently sits in third place in the Pac-12 conference standings, setting them up for a possible first-round bye in the upcoming conference tournament with a win vs. Oregon State on Saturday, and help from others during the final week of the regular season.
ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson has high hopes for the Sun Devils as they enter the month of madness in collegiate basketball, but he says there are steps to take towards refinement.
“I’m positive about the Sun Devils,” Anderson told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I’m about getting better and better all the time. So, I’m not satisfied. None of us are satisfied. So the challenge for everyone going forward is how we figure a way to make improvements, not just incremental small steps, but significant improvements.
“We want to be in the thick of things and not just on the edge.”
The athletic director of nearly two months for ASU will make the trip to Las Vegas next week for the conference tournament. His trip includes getting out and meeting powerful figures in college athletics.
“I have to get out amongst the folks who have influence and at the end of the day make these decisions, so that we have at least an influence in the room, if not a seat at the table per se at some point,” Anderson said. “No doubt about it, you’ve got to do that, and I will do that. ”
The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas will host the four-day competition for the second year in a row after the event was moved from the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2012 due to poor attendance figures. Last year’s tournament was the first time it was held in a city and state outside of the conference school locations.
“Part of it is driving fans where people want to go, and apparently Las Vegas is a destination where a lot of people can go and enjoy the basketball, but also the other entertainment that is provided up there,” Anderson said. “These neutral sites make sense in some instances. It will be interesting to see if after this second year the ceiling is as strong and if it’s a good neutral site to drive fans.
“You have to try some innovative things because Los Angeles just didn’t resonate for anybody. Hopefully, Vegas, in its second year, will be able to show better progress. If not, you got to reset and figure out a formula. I think the neutral sites for the championships are something that is probably here to stay.”
While the new athletic director for the Sun Devils is in favor of the neutral sites, head coach Herb Sendek and company may think otherwise this season. ASU is just 5-8 when not playing at Wells Fargo Arena, compared to its nearly perfect 16-1 home record.