Sun Devils to speed it up with Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall
SAN FRANCISCO – Arizona State traditionally had been a slow-it-down, grind-it-out type of team under coach Herb Sendek, but the arrival of Jahii Carson last season changed it all. Sendek put the pedal to the floor and the Sun Devils bumped a 61 point-per-game average to 72 in a matter of a year.
Carson was the benefactor of the stylistic change. He averaged 18.5 points and 5.1 assists per game, but in a rare way of handling a decision to go pro – or not – Carson committed to leaving Tempe for the NBA with a college season left to play.
“I didn't want to take too long,” Carson said Thursday at Pac-12 Men's Basketball Media Day. “Coach and my parents just had my back. It was a decision I mostly made for myself. I just felt I had unfinished business.”
So Carson is off to his second and final year of taking the court for ASU. And the Sun Devils are off trying to further enhance a style fitting to the speedy point guard.
“One thing we've always tried to do is put our players in the best position to succeed,” Sendek said. “We really believe he's the fastest guard in college basketball."
Sendek is turning to a concise philosophy of an offense. He wants the ball over halfcourt in three seconds and the shot to go up in 12. The Sun Devils are practicing with an NBA-regulation, 24-second shot clock rather than the 35-second clock used in college hoops.
Additionally, the defense is expected to play with more pressing, Sendek said.
With Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall in the backcourt, there's more reason for ASU to pump up the tempo.
“Jermaine is a proven player,” Sendek said. “He's performed and been productive on the big stage. I find him to be an excellent teammate. He has outstanding leadership skills and I think he's a fearless competitor.”
For all the hype Carson is taking on because of his NBA aspirations, he's not shying away from taking some lessons from his new, elder teammate. Marshall averaged 15.3 points per game at Penn State last season and could become even more efficient working alongside Carson. If the Sun Devils are challenging to move up the Pac-12 ranks – they were voted to finish seventh by the conference media – it'll be thanks to the backcourt.
“Guards in basketball at every level have a lot to do with winning and losing,” Sendek said. “When you have a guy like Jahii, he makes everybody on our team better.”