Our Pac-12 preview continues with the fourth Know Your Nemesis.
This is the fourth "nemesis" we've discussed in this series as we've already given a rundown of what to expect from the likes of Washington State, USC and Washington.
However, today's preview has a little extra "oomph" to it. Because today, we're discussing our ultimate nemesis. The one school in the Pac-12 that there's more than just a competitive rivalry. The school up north: The Arizona State Sun Devils.
After nine seasons of Herb Sendek, two NCAA tournament appearances and no conference finishes above 3rd place, ASU decided to move on. I must say, if Sendek were still the head man, I might have ASU ranked lower for this season. That's nothing against Sendek necessarily, but it is evidence of how strongly I feel that ASU made the right move, in hiring college basketball legend, Bobby Hurley
Bobby Hurley only has two years of NCAA head coaching experience under his belt. In those two years, he went 42-20 at Buffalo University and led them to the NCAA tournament last season, their first in school history. But it's not the fact that he had immediate success that's impressive. It's the fact that, if you got the chance to watch Buffalo play last year, in such a short amount of time, Bobby Hurley had everyone on his team playing like he did for Duke's back-to-back championships in '91 and '92. He instilled his fire and competitiveness into his players almost immediately. It was as if he had some sort of Coach K voodoo. If that happens with these guys like it did with Buffalo, ASU could be in store for success in the near future.
Between graduation and transfers, there's plenty of turnover for the Devils. But four of last year's top-five scorers will be back and they represent ASU's best chance at succeeding this season. Junior forward, Savon Goodman, is the team's highest returning scorer and the leading rebounder from a year ago. Senior forward, Eric Jacobsen, is the team's rim protector and shot 63% from the field last year. Sophomore point guard, Tra Holder, earned Pac-12 All-Freshman honors a year ago and improved mightily throughout conference play. And lastly, senior guard, Gerry Blakes, who is taking on the leadership role this year for the Sun Devils.
Games versus Arizona...
Jan. 3 @ McKale North (Come on, I had to take a shot somewhere.)
Feb. 17 @ McKale Center
The Projected Starting Five...
F Eric Jacobsen
F Savon Goodman
G Kodi Justice
G Gerry Blakes
G Tra Holder
The only new guy in this year's projected starting lineup is sophomore guard, Justice. His freshman year was shortened due to a broken foot.
The Best Case Scenario...
The Hurley effect kicks in right away. They don't have the talent to make a big jump this year but if the up-tempo offense is executed and they play the Hurley way, they can end up right in the middle of the conference.
While I do believe that these Sun Devils will give some teams fits, there just isn't enough talent. Zero recruits coming in, they've lost seven players to graduation/transfer. 9th place finish with a 7-11 record.