The 2011-12 season was a bad one for Arizona State, as the Sun Devils won just 10 games and finished tenth in the Pac-12. A major issue for Herb Sendek was the fact that one of his two most talented players wasn’t cleared to play.
That would be point guard Jahii Carson, who did not qualify academically and was only allowed to practice. That left Trent Lockett, now at Marquette, without the sidekick expected to help Arizona State climb back to respectability.
Now that Carson is eligible, along with transfers Evan Gordon (Liberty) and Bo Barnes (Hawaii), and returnees such as Chris Colvin and Carrick Felix are coming off of solid seasons the Sun Devils are expected by their fans to be an improved team.
And with Sendek committed to playing a faster tempo, the big question for Arizona State is whether or not Carson is ready to lead the way. The Mesa native certainly doesn’t lack for confidence.
“I definitely have a certain confidence and swagger about myself,” said Carson in an interview with John Marshall of the Associated Press. “I don’t want to seem arrogant or cocky, but I definitely have a confidence about my game. I have a confidence about my teammate’s game. I think that together, we can be something super.”
Even with players such as Lockett and James Harden having played for Sendek during his time in Tempe he hasn’t had a point guard as electric as Carson, which should make for an interesting 2012-13 season.
“Jahii is an electrifying player. He’s blessed with amazing athletic talent. But for me, the joy in practice with Jahii is his eagerness to learn,” said Sendek at Pac-12 Media Day. “And he has been a complete and total team guy.
“So that’s the joy that I get from working with Jahii every day. He’s very unselfish and he’s very eager to learn. And that’s an awesome combination to have in a young player (courtesy of ASAP Sports).”
But will the addition of Carson truly result in Arizona State playing faster? That remains to be seen. According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, the Sun Devils have never averaged more than 64 possessions/40 minutes during Sendek’s tenure in Tempe.
As noted above however, he hasn’t had a point guard like Carson before (although Derek Glasser was pretty good) and Sendek wants to play more man-to-man in an effort to push the tempo defensively.
“I have said this all offseason, so it is not breaking news, but I would be surprised if anyone is able to push the ball any faster than Arizona State,” Sendek said.
With Carson running the show it will be easier for Arizona State to carry that out. Now the question is whether or not they get it done.
Photo credit: Arizona State University
Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.