Devils' Advocate

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ASU added two years to Evans' contract last May (the school already had tacked on two years in 2000). He and his staff anxiously awaited this season, excited about the incoming freshmen and a junior-college transfer, and hopeful that the team's seasoned veterans could move their play up a notch in their final years of eligibility.

This was to be the breakthrough season, the year in which the Sun Devils could make the leap from Pac-10 patsy to NCAA tournament participant. As he spoke to his staff on the eve of the first practice of the 2002-03 season, Coach Evans invoked a hard lesson from his past.

"Guys, we have to remember at all times, we're not in a sprint here," he told them. "If I had thought I was racing my whole life, I'd be dead right now, and I sure as hell wouldn't be here. This is a marathon, a long-distance race. But it's a race we're bound to win."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin