Men's Hoops Back In Action Saturday At Xavier

Dec. 13, 2006

SUN DEVIL DATA: A young Arizona State University basketball team (4-3) under first-year coach Herb Sendek hits the road again as it travels to the Cintas Center to battle the Xavier Musketeers at 6 p.m. ET (4 p.m. Arizona Time) on Saturday, Dec. 16. ESPNU will broadcast the game while Tim Healey and Tom Kuyper have the call for the Sun Devil Radio Network. After starting the season 1-2, ASU put together three straight wins, including a 67-64 comeback win over defending Big Ten Tournament champion Iowa on Sat., Nov. 25. The Sun Devils trailed 60-48 with under six minutes left but had four players hit three-pointers and outscored the Hawkeyes 19-4 down the stretch. ASU then fell at Minnesota on Dec. 2 in its last game before finals and again staged a big comeback only to have this one fall short. ASU trailed 59-40 with 7:38 to play, but held Minnesota without a field goal in the final 5:22 and outscored the Gophers 23-7 before falling 66-63. ASU then plays three games in four days before opening its Pac-10 schedule on Thurs., Dec. 28, vs. Stanford (6-1), as the Pac-10 is off to a good start as four league teams are ranked in the AP poll for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. UCLA (No. 1), Arizona (10), Washington (17) and Oregon (22) are all ranked and the league was 66-16 (.809) in non-league action heading into play this week. Xavier and ASU have met just once, with the Sun Devils winning 71-67 in Tempe on Dec. 8, 1984.

THE COACHING FAMILY: Herb Sendek will coach against a former assistant coach of his for the first time, as Xavier coach Sean Miller was on Coach Sendek's staff both at Miami of Ohio and NC State. In addition, Sean's younger brother Archie is currently an assistant under Coach Sendek, as he played and coached at NC State prior to moving to Tempe. It is nothing new for an assistant to move on to be a head coach under Coach Sendek, as he has six former assistant coaches who are currently head coaches on the Division I level, including four in the state of Ohio. Here's a look at the list: Jim Christian, Kent State, Assistant at Miami (1994-96); Charlie Coles, Miami (Ohio), Assistant at Miami (1994-96); Larry Hunter, Western Carolina, Assistant at NC State (2001-05); Ron Hunter, IUPUI, Assistant at Miami (1993-94); Thad Matta, Ohio State, Assistant at Miami (1994-95) and Sean Miller, Xavier, Assistant at Miami (1994-96) and NC State (1996-2000).

YOUNG GUYS: Youth is being served this year for ASU, as four true freshmen are combining to average 85.9 minutes and ASU's top four players in minutes and points per game are freshmen and second-year players. Freshman Jerren Shipp (32.0 minutes per game/11.0 points per game) and sophomore Jeff Pendergraph (28.6 mpg./11.7 ppg.) are the only two players to start each of the seven games, while junior and second-year player Antwi Atuahene (26.6 mpg./7.0 ppg.) has started five games. In addition to that trio, freshman Christian Polk leads the team in scoring (17.7 points per contest) and is second in minutes per game (29.1). Expect different players to step up and get opportunities, as Coach Sendek already has started four lineups and has had four Sun Devils (Shipp, Steve Jones, Pendergraph and Polk) lead the team in scoring.

GOOD NOTES ON Christian Polk: In the past 17 seasons (1990-91 to present), ASU has had 42 freshmen basketball players. Only two have scored in double digits in the first seven games of their career: 2005 NBA Lottery selection Ike Diogu and Christian Polk. His seven straight double-digit scoring games already is the third-best mark in the Pac-10 behind Ivan Radenovic of UA (12) and Ayinde Ubaka of Cal (8). The Glendale, Ariz., native also is second in the league in 20-point games with four, behind Marcel Jones of Oregon State who has five. Polk entered this week third in the league in scoring at 17.7 points per game.

HOW YOUNG, YOU ASK?: The Sun Devils top two minutes-per-game leaders are both freshmen, as Jerren Shipp (32.0) and Christian Polk (29.1) both were on the court a lot through the seven games-in-20 days slate that began the season. Although season records are tough to compare this early, it is probably worth noting that Byron Scott set the ASU freshman record at 32.3 minutes per game in 1979-80. Other notable ASU freshmen minutes per game numbers include Ike Diogu (32.2 in 2002-03), Eddie House (29.5 in 1996-97) and Jamal Faulkner (29.1 in 1990-91). Faulkner, Scott and Diogu were all named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year while House was an All-Freshmen Team selection. ASU has seven players averaging at least 11 minutes, and four of them are in their first year of D-I competition. In addition to Shipp and Polk, Steve Jones (who did not play last year but was on the team) is averaging 11.8 minutes while true freshmen Derek Glasser is averaging 18.9 minutes (21.5 minutes in his past four games).

COACH Herb Sendek: Former NC State and Miami (Ohio) leader Herb Sendek is in his 14th season as a head coach as he led the Wolfpack to five straight NCAA appearances from 2002-06. Coach Sendek is 258-161 (.616) in 14 seasons and was 191-132 (.591) at NC State. The 43-year old Pittsburgh, Pa., native is the second-youngest coach in the Pac-10 behind only first-year coach Tony Bennett of WSU, yet his 254 career wins and six NCAA Tournament wins entering this year were fourth in the league. In the previous five seasons only Duke posted more ACC wins (regular season and ACC Tournament) than NC State's 53 victories. Coach Sendek also led NC State to five 20-win seasons in the past seven years. Another overlooked note on Coach Sendek is his longevity at NC State. To compare it to the Pac-10, since the league expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79, only five coaches have coached at their schools for at least 10 years: Lute Olson (Arizona), Mike Montgomery (Stanford), Ralph Miller (Oregon State) and Ben Braun (California), while Ernie Kent (Oregon) is in his 10th season in 2006-2007.

NOTES ON THE COMEBACK WIN OVER IOWA: A couple of good notes from the Nov. 25 Iowa comeback win include after sending Portland State to the foul line 36 times and being whistled for 27 fouls just a week earlier (Nov. 18), ASU committed 13 fouls against Iowa and the Hawkeyes shot just five free throws. In its 19-4 run in the final 5:35 (ASU was down 60-48), ASU had four players make a three-pointer (Shipp, Polk, Glasser and Serge Angounou) and also manufactured a pair of hoops from Jeff Pendergraph. On the final six buckets, ASU had four players notch assists.

FRESHMEN NUMBERS: ASU's four true freshmen are averaging 85.9 minutes per game (21.5 per player), currently the third-most among a class in ASU history. In 1999-2000, ASU had six freshmen average 96.8 minutes per game (16.1 minutes per freshmen). In 1983-84, six freshmen combined for 88 minutes per game (14.7 per Sun Devil), while in 1990-91 ASU's four freshmen averaged 80.6 minutes (20.2 per player).

IMPROVING: After shooting 6-of-33 (.182) from the three-point stripe in his first three seasons, Serge Angounou is 7-of-19 (.368) from beyond the arc. Antwi Atuahene is 3-of-10 (.300) after shooting 3-of-12 (.250) all of last season. Angounou also is averaging 11.7 rebounds and 11.0 points in the past three games.

GOOD NOTE: When Jerren Shipp (23) and Christian Polk (22) each scored 20 points against NAU on Nov. 13, it marked only the second time in ASU history two freshmen scored 20 points. The other time was last season when Jeff Pendergraph and Sylvester Seay each scored 21 points vs. Oregon on Feb. 11, 2006.

FRESHMEN NOTE AGAIN: Against Iowa on Nov. 25, ASU started three freshmen (Jerren Shipp, Christian Polk and Derek Glasser) for the first time since Feb. 12, 2000, when Kyle Dodd, Shawn Redhage and Tommy Smith did the trick in an 81-67 win at Washington. It was just the second time in 15 seasons three freshmen started for ASU.

PENDERGRAPH NOTES: Sophomore Jeff Pendergraph, who has increased his weight to 230 after being listed at 195 last year, posted 10 offensive boards against Portland State (most by a Sun Devil in more than a decade) en route to a career-high 13 boards...not only did he gain weight, but he has become stronger (improved bench press from 185 to 280) and maintained his conditioning level with a recent mile run of 5:47...worth noting on Pendergraph is that last year he missed fall conditioning and most of November due to surgery to remove a benign tumor in his left leg, and did not play until Nov. 26...has 18 double-figure scoring games in his 34-game career (11 of past 16) and is averaging 13.4 points and 8.3 boards in his past 13 outings dating to last season. He matched his career-high with 21 points vs. Portland State and has eight career double-doubles (three this year).

YOUTH MOVEMENT: With ASU losing its top two scorers from last season in guards Kevin Kruger (15.0 ppg.) and Bryson Krueger (12.3 ppg.) in the middle of the summer, ASU's three true freshmen perimeter players (Christian Polk, Jerren Shipp and Derek Glasser) are getting their chances for quality playing time. Both Shipp and Polk started the season opener, becoming just the fifth and sixth freshmen to start a season opener in 14 seasons, joining Tron Smith and Keith Wooden (2003-2004), Ike Diogu (2002-2003) and Donnell Knight (1999-2000). It marked just the second time two Sun Devil freshmen had started an opener in the past 15 seasons.

OPENING NIGHT FRESHMAN STARTERS IN PAST 20 SEASONS (1987-88 to 2006-07)YEAR	FRESHMAN OPENING DAY STARTERS1990-1991:	Jamal Faulkner, Stevin Smith1991-1992:	Mario Bennett, Tony Ronaldson1992-1993:	Ron Riley1999-2000:	Donnell Knight2002-2003:	Ike Diogu2003-2004:	Tron Smith, Keith Wooden2006-2007:	Christian Polk, Jerren Shipp

NEVER AN EASY OPENER: When Arizona won the 2005 Pac-10 title, it marked the fourth time in the previous six season that ASU had opened the season with an eventual Pac-10 champion, as ASU faced the eventual Pac-10 champion three straight years in its Pac-10 opener from 2000-2002, facing Stanford in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 and then opening with Oregon in 2001-2002. Last season, ASU opened Pac-10 play on Dec. 29 at 2005 Pac-10 Tournament champion, then-undefeated and seventh-ranked Washington and fell 91-67, and the Huskies finished second in the league this year. Last year also marked the sixth time in eight years ASU opened Pac-10 play on the road, and the two home games were against top-five teams. ASU fell to No. 2 Stanford on Jan. 4, 2000, in Tempe, and to fourth-ranked Arizona 93-74 on Jan. 3, 2003.

ASU PAC-10 OPENERS PAST EIGHT SEASONS

Dec. 29, 2005 -#7 UW 91, ASU 67 Seattle, Wash. (UW ends 13-5 in Pac-10 play)

Jan. 2, 2005 - #14 Arizona 97, ASU 79 Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona wins Pac-10 at 14-4)

Jan. 3, 2004 - #4 Arizona 93, ASU 74 Tempe, Ariz. (Arizona goes 20-10)

Jan. 2, 2003 - ASU 67, OSU 47 Corvallis, Ore. (ASU goes 20-12 and in NCAAs)

Dec. 20, 2001 - Oregon 103, ASU 90 Eugene, Ore. (UO wins Pac-10, goes 26-9)

Jan. 4, 2001 - #2 Stanford 94, ASU 77 Tempe, Ariz. (Stanford wins Pac-10, goes 31-3)

Jan. 6, 2000 - #1 Stanford 86, ASU 67 Palo Alto, Calif. (Stanford wins Pac-10, goes 27-4)

Jan. 2, 1999 - USC 72, ASU 70 Los Angeles, Calif. (USC ends ASU 6-game w/streak)

IN THE NBA: Two Sun Devils made NBA rosters in 2006-07, as 2005 Lottery pick (ninth overall) and 2005 Pac-10 Player of the Year Ike Diogu (Golden State Warriors), is joined by 1999-2000 Pac-10 Player of the Year Eddie House (New Jersey Nets). Diogu became ASU's seventh first-round pick and the first since Mario Bennett went to Phoenix in 1995 (27th overall). Diogu is the highest Sun Devil drafted since Byron Scott went fourth in 1983.

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