Arizona State's trip to China may give the Sun Devils the edge they need to make a run at the NCAA tournament in 2013.
The Arizona State men's basketball team will travel to China on August 9 to play an exhibition series of three games in an attempt to grow the Pac-12 and ASU brand oversees.
Here are the details of ASU's trip to China (via ASUNews):
Aug. 9-19 – ASU men’s basketball
Aug 12: ASU vs. Tsinghua University in Beijing
Aug 16: ASU vs. Fujian SBS (Chinese CBA pro team) in Zhaoqing
Aug 18: ASU vs. Fujian SBS (Chinese CBA pro team) in Nanning
While this trip is good for the growth of the Pac-12 brand oversees, it is also a chance for ASU to come together as a team and grow. The ASU football team has received a lot of attention over the summer, but people shouldn't sleep on ASU basketball.
The Sun Devils will be lead by sophomore point guard Jahii Carson and have a chance to return to the NCAA tournament if all the stars align in Tempe.
This trip to China will give the Sun Devils the edge they need to make that jump.
Head coach Herb Sendek told Doug Haller of azcentral.com that ASU's trip to China is a great opportunity and one the team has to take seriously:
As for the basketball part of it, the biggest thing is this gives us a chance to bond and come together. We’ll have three exhibition games. We’ll have 10 practices. We have to use those judiciously because guys typically aren’t in the same kind of condition they are once you start playing games in November. Plus, we don’t want to make the season too long to our detriment, so we really have to be judicious in how we approach this.
The Sun Devils looked like a NCAA tournament team up until the midway point of last season. At the end of January, ASU only had four losses and had just come off an upset, 18-point win over UCLA. Unfortunately for ASU though, the rest of the season was all-downhill from there.
ASU finished the year by going 4-7 and bowing out of the Pac-12 Tournament in the second round. They did play in the NIT but lost in the second round to Baylor.
ASU's trip to China will give the team a chance to grow and bond. It should foster a sense of camaraderie that can help the Sun Devils avoid a late season collapse this year.
Carson told Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports that he believes this trip is just what the doctor ordered:
We're going to have to get close to each other, read some books, tell some stories or something because the Internet, Twitter and Facebook is not going to be available for us. I hope that gets us some more team camaraderie, so we can get that going during the season. Hopefully it's helpful.
UCLA made the trip to China last year. The Bruins had a rocky start to their 2012 season, but they finished the year strong and won the Pac-12 regular season title.
While their trip to China wasn't the only reason they rebounded in the second half, it certainly didn't hurt.
ASU needed a killer instinct last year as nine of their 13 losses were by five points or less.
The Sun Devils' trip to China should give them a chance to come together and become a family. This, in turn, should translate to better chemistry on the court, which could be the difference between having nine losses by five points or less or nine wins.
All stats unless otherwise indicated come from ESPN.com