If your basketball team was one step away from securing their first ever conference championship, and then in turn lost that game by 16 points, how would you react? Well, for Arizona State, it is do-or-die time with the season winding down!
Herb Sendek, ASU's head coach, now has to instill a never say die mentality in his team, because if the Sun Devils lose, their chances at reaching the NCAA Tournament are finished.
Just the thought of that scenario is pretty tough to imagine, since the Sun Devils are having a rather surprising season. Sendek has led ASU to a 20-win season for the third consecutive year, and has the maroon and gold sitting pretty at second place in the Pacific Ten Conference. Sounds like a potential banner year in Tempe, right?
All of those numbers and standings sound well and good, however, not up to par compared to the rest of the country, as well as in the eyes of the selection committee.
Arizona State might have USC and UCLA at home this week to finish up the regular season, although, Herb Sendek and the Sun Devils will be scoreboard watching to see if any of the potential bubble teams slip up, and their dream seasons come to an end.
Yes, as the days count down until selection Sunday, the Sun Devils still have plenty of work left to do, if they even want to be in the tournament conversation.
First and foremost, Arizona State must take care of business with both Los Angeles schools this week at home. That much is certain, and even in a down year in the Pacific Ten Conference, home games are not a gimme, especially when you factor in that ASU lost to both squads back in January.
Wells Fargo Arena has only surrendered one loss all year in conference, at the hands of Cal 78-70 in January. The maroon and gold clad fans just have to hope, that there will not be a hangover effect following ASU's dismal performance in their weekend showdown with California.
With work left to do, the mindset for ASU will revolve around perfection. In the second half of the ASU-CAL game, the Sun Devils' performance was far from perfect. The majority of the Sun Devils' scoring outbursts this season, have come from three point baskets. Unfortunately, when you live by the three, you die by the three. Shooting an underwhelming 13% from behind the arc will not cut it, especially when you are competing for a championship.
Last Saturday versus Cal, the Sun Devils fell flat on their face while the hometown fans in Strawberry Canyon poured onto the court to rejoice the Bears first Pacific Ten Championship in fifty years. Arizona State walked off the court and onto the plane amid blue and gold confetti raining down from the Haas Pavilion rafters, knowing what was lost, and trying to salvage the remains.
ASU still has a critical stretch of games yet to be played. All the media talk for the past few weeks regarding the Pacific Ten, has swirled around the winner of the conference tournament receiving the lone bid to make the tournament.
With that being said, ASU has lost twice to the lone leader atop the standings, although, as we witness each year in the NCAA tournament and conference tournaments, if a team gets hot at the right time, look out and anything can happen. Can that anything happen for ASU, or will their season come to an end without a bid to the dance?