Sun Devils--And Justin Allen--Return To Court Saturday
Nov. 15, 2001
First Game Special As Justin Allen makes his comeback from Hodgkin's Disease
Sat., Nov. 17-vs. Stephen F. Austin, 11:30 a.m., Tempe (XTRA 910 AM/No TV)
Tues., Nov. 20-vs. Portland State, 7 p.m., Tempe (XTRA 910 AM/No TV)
DEVILS TIP-OFF 2001-2002: The Arizona State men's basketball team (13-16, 5-13 in Pac-10 in 2001-2002), under fourth-year head coach Rob Evans, opens its regular season on Sat., Nov. 17, at 11:30 a.m. against Stephen F. Austin at Wells Fargo Arena. ASU returns 12 lettermen, although three of those lettermen did not play last year, and welcomes three newcomers this year. A big moment for Saturday will be when Justin Allen takes the court for the first time in a regular season game, as the 6-7 redshirt sophomore will make his first regular-season appearance since being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease last September. The game also will be a chance for fans of the ASU program to sign up for Coaches vs. Cancer, a program Rob Evans has been involved with since his days at Ole Miss. Evans has raised more than $21,000 for the cause since coming to ASU and is on the national council. Every time an ASU player hits a three, donations are made to the Southwest Division of the American Cancer Society. Fans donate an amount for each three-pointer made (counting the two exhibitions). For example, ASU made 195 threes in 1998-99, and Rob Evans, with his personal $5 per shot donation, gave the American Cancer Society $975. The American Cancer Society (ACA) and the ASU athletic department also will offer anyone who participates in the ACA Making Strides Walk on Saturday morning at Tempe Town Lake the chance to watch the men's game and women's game at 2:30 p.m. The walk begins at 8 a.m. and participants are encouraged to stop by the Wells Fargo Arena after the walk to watch Allen's comeback and watch the defending Pac-10 champion women's team take on St. Peter's at 2:30 p.m.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITIONS: ASU won both its exhibition games this year as Evans is now 6-2 in preseason games at ASU. ASU topped Kilsyth (Australia) on Nov. 8 108-56 behind five players in double scoring, led by Chad Prewitt's 20 points. ASU topped EA Sports All-Stars 106-89 on Nov. 12 behind Prewitt's 37 points. Ten players saw at least 10 minutes of playing time against EA Sports.
VS. UPCOMING OPPONENTS: ASU is 1-0 against Stephen F. Austin, as the Sun Devils beat the Lumberjacks from the Southland Conference 80-63 on Dec. 8, 1998, in Evans' first year as head coach. ASU is 3-0 against Big Sky member Portland State, last beating the Vikings 79-57 in the season opener on Nov. 20, 1999. Rob Evans is 2-0 against the Vikings, as his Ole Miss squad also beat PSU 56-54 on Nov. 23, 1996, in the season opener that season. Portland State is coached by former Arizona State assistant Joel Sobotka, who is also a 1993 Sun Devil graduate.
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS: A look at various preseason predictions for the Sun Devils:
6th in the Pac-10--Street & Smith's, Basketball News, Basketball America, The Sporting News, Lindy's
7th in the Pac-10--Pac-10 Media Poll, Athlon's
8th in the Pac-10--ESPN.com
PAC-10 MEDIA POLL: ASU was picked to finish seventh by the Pac-10 Media in a preseason poll, announced on Wednesday, Oct. 31. The results, with first-place votes in parentheses: 1. UCLA (24), 2. Stanford (1), 3. USC, 4. Arizona (2), 5. California, 6. Oregon, 7. Arizona State, 8. Oregon State, 9. Washington State, 10. Washington.
LAST YEAR: ASU tied for sixth place in the Pac-10 in 2000-2001 after being picked to finish eighth in the preseason media poll. After starting the Pac-10 season 0-7, the Sun Devils went 5-6 after February 1, when center Chad Prewitt was back at full strength. ASU lost one player (senior Alton Mason) from last year's team. The Sun Devils played 15 games against NCAA Tournament teams and were 5-0 against non-conference NCAA teams, beating Conference USA champion Charlotte, Big South champion Winthrop, Mountain West Conference champion BYU, Mid-American champion Kent State and Mid-Continent champion Southern Utah.
SHELL ALSO REDSHIRTED: In addition to Justin Allen, Tanner Shell, who averaged 9.1 points per game in Pac-10 games including a 24-point effort at USC, broke his left hand in practice in late December and missed the remainder of last year. Shell had played in just the season opener due to a bulging disc in his back but was practicing for ASU's holiday tournament and was expected to return to the rotation. In 1999-2000, he had six double-figure scoring games and averaged seven points per game. His 9.1 points per game in Pac-10 play was third on the team.
BACK FROM MISSION: Kenny Crandall, who was a freshman in 1998-99 and started in 23 games, went on a two-year Mormon Mission to Eugene, Ore., and returns to the Sun Devils in 2001-2002. Crandall, a native of Mesa, Ariz., and a 6-3 swingman who prepped at Mountain View High School, averaged 5.9 points and 28.4 minutes per game in his initial season. He has three years of eligibility.
ROB EVANS: Rob Evans (132-126/.512) finished his third season in 2000-2001 (ninth overall) as the head basketball coach at Arizona State after being hired on April 7, 1998. The 1997 SEC Coach of the Year spent six seasons at Ole Miss, compiling an 86-81 (.515) record. He led the Rebels to a 42-16 record in his final two seasons, winning two SEC West titles, and led Ole Miss to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1937-38. The 55-year old Evans is a 1968 graduate of New Mexico State, where he captained two NCAA Tournament teams, is a 1989 inductee of the NMSU Athletic Hall of Fame and was named to the school's All-Time Basketball team. He is 46-45 (.505) at ASU. Evans' Ole Miss squads were known as a tough man-to-man teams which ranked 13th in the nation and second in the SEC in 1997-98 in rebounding at +6.6, despite no player was in the top 30 in rebounding. Ole Miss held opponents to just 30 percent from the three-point stripe, best in the SEC, and to just 40.6 percent from the field. He is 88-61 (.591) in the past five seasons.
REGARDING OPENING GAMES: ASU beat Mid-Continent Champion Southern Utah 94-72 on Nov. 17, 2000, to win its 11th straight home opener. Rob Evans is now 7-2 in season openers in his nine seasons (2-1 at ASU) as a head coach after falling to eventual NIT champion Tulsa last year 69-67 in the NABC Classic in Raleigh in the season lid-lifter. The last time ASU lost a home opener was on Dec. 5, 1989, when ASU fell to BYU 65-64. ASU has not been 2-0 since the 1997-98 season. The only two current Sun Devils to start the past two opening games are Chad Prewitt and Donnell Knight.
HE KEEPS GETTING BETTER: Tommy Smith, voted the Most Improved Player at the team's banquet last year, matched a Pac-10 record for field goal percentage by making all 11 shots against Washington on Feb. 10, 2001, and played well from mid-January through the end of last season. Smith, a 6-9 sophomore, averaged 12.5 points in the final 15 games and had a career-high 24 points vs. the Huskies and had 21 points and 12 boards at California on March 8. His 11-of-11 effort put him in the Pac-10 record book with Steve Johnson of OSU (13-of-13 vs. Hawaii-Hilo on Dec. 5, 1979), Marques Johnson of UCLA (11-of-11 vs. Cal on Feb. 27, 1976) and Bryan Bracey of Oregon (10-of-10 vs. UW on Jan. 20, 2000). Smith scored in double-digits in 12 of the final 15 games after posting double digits in just five games last season (just two Pac-10 games). In his final 10 games, Smith was 52-of-78 (.670) from the field and averaged 12.9 points.
AT THE LINE: Junior Shawn Redhage has established himself as one of the best free throw shooters in ASU history 61 games into his career. Redhage shot 80-of-98 (.816) this year, the fourth-best mark in the Pac-10, and is 139-of-169 (.822) in his career. A look at Redhage on ASU career FT list as he now stands first on the list:
CAREER FREE THROWS
Rk. Name (Year) FT-A Pct.
1. Shawn Redhage (1999-pres.) 139-169 .822
2. Alex Austin (1986-90) 255-313 .815
3. Rick Taylor (1974-78) 253-311 .814
4. Dennis Hamilton (1963-66) 261-321 .813
5. Isaac Burton (1993-95) 208-257 .809
6. Eddie House (1996-2000) 268-336 .789