We're not going too far out on a limb here by saying it's going to be another long year for ASU's men's basketball team.
The Sun Devils play hard for head coach (he of the recent contract extension) Herb Sendek--but the team is thin and the remaining players on the squad basically are just fair-to-middlin'.
We say "remaining" because Coach Sendek yesterday announced the permanent dismissal of once-touted Keala King, a 6-8 point guard (at least he was playing point guard a lot for ASU) out of Compton.
The Keala King "era" is over at ASU.
King was averaging almost 14 points a game this season before Sendek suspended him and two other starters, Kyle Cain and Chris Colvin, before last weekend's LA trip to face USC and UCLA.
The southpaw was considered one of Sendek's biggest recruiting coups when he decided to attend the Tempe school after a stellar career at storied Mater Dei High School. But, according to numerous accounts, the player and the coach didn't mesh, and things went even farther south in this, King's sophomore season.
At times, we enjoyed watching King's obviously superior athleticism, but his undisciplined style of play was the polar opposite of what Sendek's philosophy is all about. We don't know what was going on behind the scenes, but it must not have been pretty because Sendek seems like a patient and careful man.
The Sun Devils ended the LA trip on Saturday night with a 17-point loss to UCLA after the depleted team simply ran out of gas in the second half after taking an early 10-point lead.
ASU was down to just six scholarship players for the two games, which was not nearly enough against the Bruins, whose own weekend went swimmingly with wins over ASU and Arizona.
The Devils' win over the lowly USC Trojans on Thursday was sweet and pretty much unexpected. We suspect that Sendek's squad will surprise a few more Pac-12 teams before it's over, but not many.
Effort is one thing--and every player that ASU puts on the floor has that in spades. But ability, even in a conference that is not nearly one of the nation's best this season, is another.
The Arizona schools host the Oregon schools this coming weekend, with ASU taking on the Oregon Ducks on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe.
Not sure if Cain and Colvin will be in uniform for the game, though if the Devils are to have much of a chance, that probably would be a good thing.