The Arizona State Sun Devils tipped off last weekend with the Pac-10 Conference's best record, however, following their demoralizing 19-point defeat at the hands of in-state rival Arizona, the Sun Devils are just trying to get back on their feet.
Last week, the season's outlook appeared to be much brighter, yet the Sun Devils still have an abundance to play for.
Last Saturday, the Sun Devils were embarrassed by the Wildcats at home. Tonight, the Sun Devils will look to take out their aggression on the California Golden Bears, the conference's new top team.
The Sun Devils ran off four straight wins against the Washington schools and the Oregon schools. Both Washington and Washington State left Tempe wondering what hit them, as both the Huskies and Cougars were dealt double-digit blowout losses by ASU.
The fans at Wells Fargo Arena will be looking for similar production to be on display against California tonight, or else the Sun Devils might be looking down a rough slate of games coming up.
The difference between production in the games ASU has won and lost is a dominant inside presence.
The past four seasons, ASU was privileged enough to have Jeff Pendergraph on the roster. Pendergraph would fight for every rebound, contest every shot, and be a reliable, consistent second or third scorer for the Sun Devils.
This season, head coach Herb Sendek is clearly missing the quality of Pendergraph. Filling the shoes for the current Portland Trailblazer is Eric Boateng.
Boateng has had one game all season in which his rebounding total was in double-digits, and that came back in the third game of the season against Texas Christian. Unfortunately, Boateng's offensive prowess has been far from desirable as well.
Although he is averaging nearly eight points per game, his output has greatly diminished since conference play commenced.
And the sour note for this tale, is that the Sun Devils do not have the quality depth to insert if Boateng is not producing or another member of the normal starting five is underperforming.
Ruslan Pateev and Taylor Rhode can give Herb Sendek some quality minutes off the bench, but if either of them are on the court for more than four or five minutes at a time, then ASU gets exposed.
As of right now, the Sun Devils scoring looks to be a three-headed monster with Rihards Kuksiks, Derek Glasser, and Ty Abbott.
For consistency and continued progress this season, Herb Sendek has to find or mold one of his young freshmen playmakers into a true big time scorer.
Either Demetrius Walker or Trent Lockett need to catapult themselves into the starting lineup to add a spark to this Sun Devil offense, because Arizona exposed the Sun Devils defense last weekend in their 77-58 rout of ASU.
Let us hope for better things to come starting tonight against the California Golden Bears.