Arizona State coach Sendek says free throws are main reason for losing
Close wins were the bread and butter for Arizona State last year. Whether it was Jordan Bachynski’s three game-winning blocks, Jermaine Marshall’s clutch shooting or Jahii Carson’s signature, emphatic dunk against No. 2 Arizona, close games went ASU’s way a majority of the year. This season has been the complete opposite.
“We have not been able to get the defensive stop or the big bucket at the other end when we’ve had the ball in our hands to win those games,” coach Herb Sendek told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I think in every college basketball season, you have a bushel basket of those kind of games, and how you fare in those games, ultimately determines how your season goes.”
The Sun Devils have six losses by five points or fewer, two of which were in at least one overtime. Late-game execution is a big reason why their record is 3-6 in Pac-12 play.
“A possession here, a possession there over the course of six or seven games and our team sits in an entirely different place, not only record wise, but perhaps psychologically,” Sendek said.
Friday’s 68-67 overtime loss to Oregon was a perfect example. Down one point with 25 seconds left, ASU fumbled the ball around nearly the entire possession and threw up a three-point air ball at the buzzer. Sendek described it as “a gut-wrenching loss for us.” But he said there’s a bigger reason for these close losses.
“No single factor has contributed to those losses more than our free throw shooting,” Sendek said. “If you take our six closest losses; the games that have come down to the last, the next to last possession, the last minute wherever you want to draw the line, as a team, we’ve shot 57 percent from the foul line.
“And so, you can get more analytical if you want, and certainly we can be better in every area, but it’s really hard to overcome leaving that many points on the table.”