ASU Basketball: The Post James Harden Era Is Underway

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IINovember 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach Herb Sendek of Arizona State signals a play from the sideline to his players in the first half of the game at Galen Center on January 15, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  The Trojans defeated the Sun Devils 61-49.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

A lot of people in Tempe have gained an added interest in the Sun Devils' basketball program, especially considering the recent success ASU have shown.

However, much the teams' production in the past couple of seasons, and overall difference between wins and losses, is now residing in Oklahoma City, playing in the National Basketball Association. 

The man I am referencing is James Harden. Harden came to the "Valley of the Sun", with one goal, and that was to improve his draft prospectus in one, or maybe two seasons at a college, and then let his abilities shine on the big stage. 

Fortunately for Sun Devil fans, Harden stuck around for his sophomore season to earn some extra seasoning for the NBA. While sharpening his tools for the next level, Harden also reincarnated a basketball program on life support, which was waist deep in probations and violations in regards to the NCAA.

Now one year after Harden, Herb Sendek and his Sun Devils are looking to build off of their trip to the NCAA tournament, 25 win season, and highest finish in the Pacific Ten Standings since the 2002-03 season. 

But how much credit has to be given to head coach Herb Sendek? In his first season, the Sun Devils posted an 8-22 record, and finished dead last in the Pacific Ten.

Fast forward to last season, the Sun Devils beat UCLA twice, Arizona three times, and on the road at Maples Pavilion against Stanford. Now those are results any fan would love to see. 

Maybe Sendek's best asset while coaching in Tempe, has ben off the court, on the recruiting trails. Sendek has attracted a fresh breed of talent that fits his tough defensive system, and up tempo offensive schemes. 

So, the question is, how will Sendek and his youthful team follow up their stellar 2008-09 season, and progress the program to another level in 2010? 

Well Arizona State is off to a fast start, winning their first two games of the season in convincing fashion. Even more of a feat, seeing UCLA fall at home to lowly Cal State Fullerton last night. However, the competition that ASU faced was pedestrian at best, tipping off against Western Illinois and Texas State. 

But tonight might give the fans in Tempe a forecast on how the season might unfold. The Sun Devils' opponent is Texas Christian.

Most suspect another blowout victory for the maroon and gold, but TCU has fought toe to toe with upper echelon opponents the last couple seasons. The likes of Colorado, Brigham Young, Utah, and UNLV have all fallen victim to the Horned Frogs in recent years. 

The Sun Devils will look to avoid the speed bump tonight, and show off future stars of tomorrow, tonight for all to see at Wells Fargo Arena. Fans in attendance, or watching on television might recognize some familiar faces such as four year starting point guard, Derek Glasser, and Junior swing man, Ty Abbott.

However, as the game and the season march on, the young talent will emerge out of the trials and tribulations of a long basketball season. 

But the season is young, and the non-conference games will provide valuable on-the-job learning experience for the young talent of Trent Lockett and Demetrius Walker.

In no way are these two playmakers in the mold of a James Harden, but only time will tell, how much production and game-changing ability these two freshmen will illustrate. 

That is the beauty of a college basketball season. The early games are an opportunity to gage your talent, while also evaluating the team's strengths and weakness before conference play begins.

But also these games are a tremendous opportunity to see what your new recruits can do when the lights are on. Then again, this is also the time when Freshmen start maturing into Sophomore's just in time for the "Big Dance" in March. 

Will ASU have their slipper fit just right, and manage to make it to a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance? Only time will tell.