Before the 2012-13 season began Herb Sendek’s Arizona State Sun Devils were picked to finish 11th, with few buying the preseason claims that the team would play faster thanks in large part to the addition of redshirt freshman point guard Jahii Carson.
In Sendek’s six prior seasons at the school his “fastest-playing” team was the 2010-11 edition, which averaged 63.9 possessions per 40 minutes (ranking 296th in the country that season). So of course the idea of Arizona State playing at a higher tempo was met with much skepticism.
In the end Sendek and his program did play faster in 2012-13, and while their jump to 65.8 possessions/40 minutes didn’t reach “run and gun” status the addition of Carson (and the improvement of veterans Jordan Bachynski and Carrick Felix, to name two) kept Arizona State in the NCAA tournament at-large discussion until late-February.
So what will Arizona State look to do in 2013-14? They want to play even faster, with three key numbers being their focus during the offseason according to Dan Bickley of AZCentral.com.
Three: seconds to get across midcourt.
Twelve: the number of seconds in which he’d like his team to shoot the ball.
Twenty-four: the number of seconds on the shot clock that will help accelerate Arizona State’s new offense, the one designed to get your attention and maximize the talents of sophomore Jahii Carson.
In working towards this goal, Sendek will have the team practicing with a 24-second shot clock when workouts begin in the fall. Also helpful in this process is the presence of assistant coach Eric Musselman, who has been both an assistant and head coach at the NBA level.
But despite those tools, there’s one very important reason why Sendek can push his team to play faster than any prior Arizona State squad during his tenure in Tempe: Carson.
“A few years ago, people thought I actually wanted to play a slow-down offense,” Sendek told Bickley. “I did it because it was our only chance to compete. And now people think I’ve had an epiphany. No, I have the fastest point guard in college basketball.”
Carson hit the ground running after being forced to sit out the 2011-12 season as a partial qualifier, averaging 18.5 points (47.3% FG) and 5.1 assists per game and sharing Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors with UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad. And with the amount of talent that has left the conference since the end of the season, Carson could very well be the player picked to be Pac-12 Preseason Player of the Year come November.
How much faster Arizona State plays next season remains to be seen, but it’s a lot easier to make such plans when armed with one of college basketball’s quickest players.
Duke’s freshman center Harry Giles II is close to returning to the game action, according to head coach Mike Krzyzewski, potentially as soon as Christmas.
“Harry’s participating,” Krzyzewski said, “he hasn’t had as much contact yet. We’re hoping before Christmas, those two games.”
Duke is playing UNLV in Vegas on Saturday, then after a nine-day break for finals, the Blue Devils get Tennessee State and Elon at home on the 19th and the 21st.
Giles warmed up with the Blue Devils on Tuesday night. Giles, who was long considered the top prospect in his class, has torn ACLs in both knees. He had a knee scope in October that has kept him out of action since.
“I don’t want to put a gun to his head, like, ‘You have to do it,'” Coach K said. “I want to see how he does during the exam period with a little more contact, before we go forward.”
History repeating itself led to another heartbreak for Lipscomb.
For the second time in a week, the Bisons fell to Belmont in the final seconds in their Battle of the Boulevard matchups. This time it was a Taylor Barnette 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining in overtime that gave the Bruins the win over Lipscomb, their 11th-straight over their intra-Nashville rivals, by the score of 78-76.
Last week at home, the Bruins erased an 18-point second-half deficit on Dylan Windler’s layup with under a second remaining to best Lipscomb.
In between to those two bad beats to Belmont, Lipscomb also managed to fit in a 72-71 loss to Tennessee State that came courtesy of a Tigers jumper with nine seconds left. Here’s guessing the 104-85 win over Tennessee Tech the Bisons also snuck in that week isn’t enough salve for those wounds.
No. 5 Duke knocks off No. 21 Florida in the Jimmy V Classic
He was a McDonald’s All-American. He’s the second all-time leading high school scorer in the state of Ohio, finishing his career with more points than LeBron James, and had his pick of just about any school in the country when he decided that he would play his college basketball at Duke.
And he knew that, at Duke, at a program that has spent recent history building around the likes of Jabari Parker and Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Brandon Ingram, he was destined to be the unheralded prospect. He knew that when Jayson Tatum, Harry Giles and Grayson Allen all committed to being his teammates during his sophomore season, that he would be relegated to a role.
Here we are a month into the season, Duke is through every test they’re going to get in non-conference play, and not only is Kennard Duke’s leading scorer, if the season ended today, he’d be a first-team All-American with a very legitimate case to be the National Player of the Year. Per Draft Express, he’s the only player in college basketball averaging more than 20 points and 3.5 assists per 40 minutes and less than 2.0 turnovers per 40 minutes while shooting better than 60 percent on twos and 35 percent from three.
If I had told you that in October, you would have called me an idiot.
And you wouldn’t be the only one that was skeptical.
“I probably wouldn’t believe you,” Kennard said after putting up 29 points on 16 shots as the No. 5 Blue Devils handled No. 21 Florida in the Jimmy V Classic, 84-74. It was Kennard’s second-highest scoring output of the season and, arguably, his second-best performance in Madison Square Garden this year.
“He’s come through for us,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Beautifully.”
It’s good to be Coach K these days.
We’re a month into the season and Duke has yet to play a game where half of the four potential lottery picks on the roster have been healthy enough to look like, you know, potential lottery picks. Harry Giles is still more than a week away from actually playing in a game for the Blue Devils; Coach K said that he hopes to have him back for Duke’s two games in the week before Christmas. Marques Bolden has played just 14 minutes in two games since returning from a lower leg injury. Jayson Tatum played his second game with the Blue Devils on Tuesday night, and it wasn’t until the second half against Florida, when Tatum scored 14 of his 22 points, that he got into enough of a rhythm to take over a game the way we know he can.
And Allen, the NBC Sports Preseason National Player of the Year? He’d played in seven of Duke’s eight games, but a toe injury has sapped him of the burst that makes him such a difficult matchup.
But that hasn’t slowed the Blue Devils down. They’re 9-1 on the season, ranked in the top five of every poll and a Frank Mason III buzzer-beater away from surviving an injury-laden first month without a blemish.
It’s a credit to the amount of talent that Duke has stockpiled on their roster.
Because Kennard isn’t the only unheralded star on this Duke team. Amile Jefferson, a fifth-year senior that is only on the roster this season because Duke opted not to bring him back late last year after he suffered a broken foot, has picked up where he left off. Entering Tuesday night, Jefferson was averaging 14.7 points, 9.8 boards and 2.0 blocks. On Tuesday night, he played arguably his most impressive game as a Blue Devil, finishing with 24 points, 15 boards and four blocks.
He, too, is playing at an all-american level this season, and man, what a luxury that is to have. There isn’t another team in the country that could handle that kind of devastating injury luck without missing a beat.
“We have so many weapons in offense,” Tatum said after his breakout performance, which couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only was this Tatum’s first nationally-televised came with the Blue Devils, but he put on a show in Madison Square Garden with what seemed like half of the NBA in attendance. “On any given night two or three guys can go off. Other guys that can score might have more rebounds or assists. [Grayson’s] shots weren’t falling but he had eight assists.”
“There is absolutely no jealousy on the team with who is scoring,” Kennard said. “We have a lot of guys willing to share the ball and it’s fun to play with.”
And that may be the best news for Duke for two reasons.
On the one hand, roles are going to change now that the Blue Devils are getting healthy. The minutes-crunch will likely be felt more in the front court, where Giles and Bolden are going to have to force Coach K to take Jefferson off of the floor. Minutes and touches will be at even more of a premium if Duke continues to roll out small-ball lineups that feature Tatum at the four. Chase Jeter, who only got on the floor for one minute on Tuesday, is going to get buried on the bench again, and it wasn’t exactly promising that, in a game where Giles only participated in warm-ups, Bolden got off the pine for just two minutes.
The back court rotation will take a hit as well. Duke’s best lineup come ACC play could very well end up featuring Allen, Kennard and Tatum on the perimeter with Jefferson and Giles up front, meaning that Frank Jackson – who only played 20 minutes against Florida – and Matt Jones will likely end up seeing much less of the floor than they are right now.
But it’s also a sign that the concerns over Duke’s point guard play may have been overblown.
Entering the season, that was the biggest concern with this group. Jackson is the only point guard on the roster, but even he’s more of a scorer than he is a facilitator. That lack of a point guard hasn’t hurt Duke yet, however, and the reason for it is, as Kennard said, “There is absolutely no jealousy on the team.”
That lack of jealousy comes through in the way that Duke plays. Not only do they whip the ball around the perimeter, the Blue Devils are always going to have four-if-not-five players on the floor that can handle the ball in transition or against a press. Their best guards may not be Tyus Jones or Lonzo Ball, but they are kids that are willing and able to create off the bounce and understand how to operate in ball-screen actions. Beyond that, Duke runs crisp offense, which is as essential to efficient offenses as anything, and will always have three guys on the court that can create offense for themselves in a 1-on-1 situation.
That’s even more relevant to point out after playing Florida, who, on paper, is precisely the kind of team that should give the point guard-less Blue Devils trouble. Florida presses, entering Tuesday night 12th in defensive turnover percentage, and yet the Blue Devils committed just 13 turnovers in 71 possessions, a really good number considering the opponent and the matchup.
“Whoever gets the rebound, perimeter guys and Amile, they told us we can bring it up,” Kennard said. “We have a lot of playmakers, guys that can handle the ball coach wants us to push it. We’re a really good transition team if we get stops on defense.”
“Not having a true PG benefits us in a way.”
That’s not too bad for a team that’s still trying to work out their early-season kinks.
“It’s almost like we’re in October mode now when everyone else is in December mode,” Coach K said.
“But I think we can catch-up.”
Brunson helps No. 1 Villanova avoid upset against La Salle
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jalen Brunson scored 26 points and Josh Hart had 21 to help No. 1 Villanova hold off La Salle 89-79 on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (9-0) failed to dominate in their first game of the season as the top-ranked team in the country. The national champions led La Salle (4-3) by only single digits late in the game and played little like the team that had steamrolled to the top.
Coach Jay Wright had worried that Villanova’s ascension to No. 1 would give the Explorers a little more incentive to go out and knock off the champs.
La Salle almost came through at the famed Palestra.
Johnnie Shuler and Pookie Powell made late 3-pointers that pulled the Explorers to 77-70. La Salle, which has never defeated a No. 1 team, got more late help from long range when Jordan Price popped a 3 that made it a four-point game. Powell scored 27 points.
La Salle just didn’t have enough to get past Villanova and earn its biggest win since it reached the 2013 Sweet 16.
The Wildcats sealed the win on Donte DiVincenzo’s late dunk and avoided the upset.
La Salle: The Explorers lost three times to No. 1 teams in the 1950s, once each in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2010s. La Salle last lost to a No. 1 team 90-65 to Kansas on Dec. 12, 2009.
Villanova: The Wildcats went 5-1 as an AP Top 25 No. 1 last season. They were the top team in the country for three weeks and proved they were worthy of the ranking with the program’s second national championship. The Wildcats are trying to become the first repeat champs since Florida in 2006-07.
La Salle faces another Big East team Saturday against Georgetown.
Villanova gets its toughest test in weeks when it plays No. 23 Notre Dame in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
No. 18 Purdue dominates Arizona State in Jimmy V Classic
NEW YORK (AP) No. 18 Purdue did just about everything well in a 97-64 thrashing of Arizona State on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The Boilermakers scored inside and from the perimeter. They played stingy defense. They rebounded with extra energy.
“I thought right as we started moving the basketball, we got into a rhythm and our guys played maybe the best half (of the season) outside of the first 4 minutes,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
Isaac Haas and Vincent Edwards were both 6 of 9 from the field and had 16 points for Purdue.
“I would say we did a lot of great things offensively, moving the ball and getting open looks from 3-point and down on the block,” Haas said. “But defensively there was some things we had to tune up. We eventually got most of those corrected, but it still comes down to guarding your man.”
Purdue, which has won six of seven, took command with a 26-2 run that gave the Boilermakers a 35-12 lead. During the spurt, Purdue scored both inside and out while the Sun Devils (5-4) missed 12 of 13 shots and the Boilermakers (7-2) outrebounded Arizona State 16-5.
Arizona State finished the first half 1 of 11 from 3-point range, one game after matching the school record with 18 3s against UNLV. The Sun Devils were 4 for 26 for the game on 3s and 24 of 67 overall (24 of 67).
“It came real easy for them their last home game,” Painter said. “We just wanted to stay with them. We just wanted them to take contested shots and not leave them (open).”
Ryan Cline had 15 points for Purdue, and Basil Smotherman added 13. Carsen Edwards and Dakota Mathias scored 12 each.
Cline was 5 for 7 and Vincent Edwards went 4 for 5 from 3-point range as Purdue finished 15 of 27 from long range. The Boilermakers shot 59.4 percent overall (38 of 64).
“I think things definitely went in our favor, especially shooting the basketball,” Painter said.
“We were just being simple and making plays. We were just playing team ball,” Vincent Edwards said. “I feel like when one team is missing shots and the other team is making a lot of shots and capitalizing on those misses, it really shows.”
Shannon Evans II led the Sun Devils with 16 points, and Torian Graham added 14.
“Purdue’s a really good basketball team, really good balance, toughness, inside game,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “They made a good amount of shots behind the line. I thought we competed for about 8 minutes out of 40. That’s not good enough at this level.”
Caleb Swanigan had 10 rebounds to lead the Boilermakers, who finished with a 44-28 advantage on the glass. The 7-foot-2 Haas had seven rebounds.
“We identify ourselves with making jump shots,” Hurley said. “Right now we’re a soft team and we don’t have any backbone. When we didn’t make our shots, we folded, we gave in. It was sad to see.
“It’s unfortunate that our team didn’t even come close to the energy that Jimmy (Valvano) had in his life and his passion. We had no passion for playing. We did a disservice to this game and this event and what he represented.”
The win ended a three-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden for the Boilermakers, who are 13-9 in the building all-time.
Purdue: The Boilermakers aren’t just their big men anymore. Swanigan and Haas control inside, but Purdue can also hit the 3. Purdue outrebounds its opponents by eight and the Boilermakers shoot 43.2 percent from beyond the arc. … Purdue’s losses have been to Villanova and Louisville. … Purdue’s next game against a ranked team is Dec. 17 against No. 23 Notre Dame in Indianapolis. … Purdue leads the all-time series with Arizona State 4-2.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils are one of the most mobile college basketball teams. From Nov. 16 through Dec. 10, they will travel 12,900 miles and spend 11 of 25 nights in hotels. The trips included one to the Bahamas to face then-No. 1 Kentucky. … In their current six-game stretch, the Sun Devils will have faced ranked teams Kentucky, Purdue and Creighton. … Arizona State is 1-4 at Madison Square Garden.
Purdue: The Boilermakers host Cleveland State on Saturday and a week later they face No. 23 Notre Dame.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils are at San Diego State on Saturday.