Ever since the arrival of Head Coach Herb Sendek, the Arizona State basketball team has been known for their stifling zone defense that has tormented their Pacific Ten Conference foes. However, the offensive production and prolific scoring that fans became all too accustomed to, seemed to have came and went with former Sun Devil and current NBA rookie, James Harden.
Harden was a household name the past two seasons in college basketball, and the Los Angeles, CA native, looks to have a bright future in the NBA, but Sendek and Sun Devil fans are much more concerned with how the ASU basketball team will overcome the lack of a complete game-changer on the court, in late game situations.
This scenario has been evident during the early going this season. ASU's leading scorer this season is Senior point guard Derek Glasser, averaging just under 13 point per game and nearly six assists a game. But for Sendek, Glasser is the facilitator of the basketball, almost like the quarterback of his offense, not the pure scorer like Harden was the past two seasons.
James Harden averaged 21 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game last season, while earning Pac-10 player of the year honors. To the dismay of Sun Devil fans, his production is now seen on the grand scale, not at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
ASU is now turning to Rihards Kuksiks, Eric Boateng, and Glasser to be the three headed scoring monster to drive the Sun Devils to potential back to back NCAA tournament appearances this season. But fans in Tempe are hesitant to start drinking the koolaid.
Following Arizona State's narrow 55-52 victory of the San Diego State Aztecs, Glasser was the man that stepped up to solidify the victory for the Sun Devils. However, in the last eleven minutes of the contest, the Sun Devils nearly blew an eighteen point lead, when the offensive output for Sendek's squad began settling for long range three-point shots.
In year's past, Harden was the man that took over the game in crunch time, to put the nail in the coffin. Against the Aztecs, Glasser was the reliable floor general, and finished off the Aztecs at the free throw line. Unfortunately, the meat of the Pacific Ten conference schedule will not be as forgiving as the SDSU Aztecs.
When Harden was a Freshman he was thrown into the role of ASU's high flying top scorer, so far this season, the Sun Devils do not have that performer. But will one emerge as the diamond in the rough?
Look no further than Freshman Trent Lockett. Lockett has shown signs of taking over a game, such as his 19 point performance against San Francisco, a game which ASU won 104-65, and even against Duke at Madison Square Garden, Lockett scored 8 of his 13 points in the final four minutes to formulate a comeback against the Blue Devils.
Sendek stated that even Harden did not put up twenty point performances early on as a Freshman, but once the calendar changes to a new year, freshmen turn into sophomores, and the experience begins to show.
Lockett has shown his ability on one of the grandest stages of them all in New York, the coaches, teammates, and fans in Tempe are waiting for this breakout Freshman to turn into the Sun Devils game-changer and emerge as the play-maker that he ASU offense is missing.