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New talent means new opportunities as ASU basketball season gets underway

(Photo: Nick Krueger/WCSN)

After a devastating finish in last year’s 2012-2013 season, the Sun Devils look to gear their intensity towards a finish that could leave them as a contender in the NCAA tournament. The goal at the start of the season will be to advance past last year’s sixth place Pac-12 ranking.

Head coach Herb Sendek radiated enthusiasm about this plight during his first press conference of the season last Thursday during ASU basketball media day.

“As one of our core-values says, now is the only time, the path is the goal. That’s one of the beauties of college basketball,” Sendek said. “ There’s always a new beginning and there’s always fresh faces to get you excited.”

This year, the team has stacked some promising talent onto their roster. Among many of the “fresh faces” is Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall.

Coach Sendek eagerly praised Marshall who dominates from the three-point line, currently with 108 threes to his name. Marshall is also known for his uncanny ability to get inside the paint.

“Jermaine is a proven basketball player with a great deal of experience,” Coach Sendek acknowledged. “I like his toughness, his grit. I think he’s a fearless competitor. I expect him to help our team a great deal.”

Sai Tummala and Calean Robinson will also be playing as first-time Sun Devils this year, adding some versatility to the offense. Tummala, a former JUCO player for Salt Lake Community College, comes with the potential to make an impact at shooting forward with three years of eligibility remaining. Robinson, who sat out last year due to an “off-the-court matter,” has a knack for beating the opposing team’s defensive strategies in order to get his hands on the ball. When asked how these new players will fit into the team’s approach, Sendek had a simple reply.

“I think the operative word there is new.”

“All those guys are in their third day of college practice. I’m excited by what I see from our collection of new players,” Sendek elaborated. “I think they are going to blend very well with some of the returners, the guys with more experience.”

Sendek’s prominent returners this year include sophomore point-guard Jahii Carson who will join the NBA next year, and senior center Jordan Bachynski. Both make tremendous contributions on the court, notably Carson’s unmatched speed and Bachynski’s record amount of blocks. Sendek greatly values Carson’s ability to excel under pressure.

“I love the fact that he performs when the lights are on, he makes big plays in crunch time, he’s a special player.”

Bachynski carries a rare “sum total of basketball experiences for someone who’s a senior in college” as Sendek put it. “Playing in China twice this summer, playing in Russia, practicing with their national team under the leadership of an NBA coach like coach [Jay] Triano, could do nothing but help him.”

Coach Sendek was also very pleased with the preseason being more spread out than usual, noting it is “brilliant,” and allows “latitude” in the sense that it enables “a better pace, more gradual progression into the season and people making good decisions for their team.” This will allow the players more time to work on weaknesses and heal any injuries before they take on a very competitive non-conference schedule.

Jahii Carson is one player taking the time to heal. However, Sendek is confident that Carson will be ready for what is to be the earliest tip off in ASU basketball history on November 8th.

The veterans of this Sun Devil team will have to help season the fresh talent that appears to have huge potential in the coming season. Sendek believes that every player has something he can improve on.

“We’re always trying to advance on a broad-based front, I want them to rebound better, defend better, post-up better, you can always get better in every facet and that’s kind of our mindset.”

Fans can expect the same brand of basketball from last season that Sendek deemed, “fast-breaking, up-tempo, free-flowing, attack basketball.”

While each player has a distinct style and skillset to bring to the team, the number of W’s this year will be a testament to how well those diverse skillsets gel together.

The writer can be reached at or on twitter at KristinaV_18

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