Tag Archives: Arizona State

Meet the Sun Devils

As has been mentioned many times previously, the ATB crew loves the Suns. Shaun wants to be the mop boy and I spent nearly 2000 words trying to figure out some possible way that the Suns might be somehow be good this year. They are, quite unfortunately, atrocious, so I have to search for my basketball fix somewhere else. Fortunately for me I have another basketball team budding right in front of me, even closer than the Suns: my beloved Sun Devils.
Yup, I’m writing about them again, this time on the basketball side. This year, the Devils were able to navigate through their way through the pre-conference schedule much better than the previous year, only losing to a ranked Creighton team, and a very solid DePaul team. Yet on a national, or even regional scale, nary a head has been turned based on a 11-2 beginning to the season, but that all changed last Sunday when ASU defeated the defending PAC 12 champion Colorado Buffaloes.
Not a lot of people even saw this one coming. After last year’s horrible 10-21 season, there were a lot of calls for Coach Herb Sendek to be fired, and embarrassingly enough, I was one of them. It had looked like ASU had reverted back to their old selves, not being able to even compete with the middle of the pack teams. That worry was even more justified when soon to be senior leader Trent Lockett transferred from the school in order to be closer to his ailing mother. So, with the Devils coming out of nowhere this year, not many people have any idea who is even on the team. Therefore, I’ve decided to take it on myself to let the world know about the team that might not have the most talent, but has a ton of heart. ASU goes about 7 deep each game, so without further ado:

Eric Jacobsen: The freshman big man from Phoenix has shown great flashes off of the bench. While the stats aren’t impressive, 3.3 points and two rebounds in about 11 minutes per game, his hustle and smart play are a spark needed when starting center Jordan Bachynski gets in foul trouble or needs a rest.
Chris Colvin: The starting point guard from last year’s team has now been regulated to the bench with a new hot shot freshman coming in. Yet Chris hasn’t sulked, instead he has turned into the team’s best perimeter defender, holding Colorado star forward Spencer Dinwiddie to 8-20 shooting in last week’s win. Colvin isn’t the greatest shooter, on the team, nor the best ball handler, but he’s an athletic guard that plays with a ton of heart.
Evan Gordon: While he’s not exactly the Gordon that I wanted, (see Eric Gordon in my Suns preview), the transfer from Indiana is a solid three point shooter who can spread the floor. His potential was shown especially against Sacramento State, scoring 29 points and hitting 5 threes. His shooting has added a second shooter that last year’s 10-21 team never had.
Jonathan Gilling: The Danish Dagger has added a lot to his game since last year. While every team wishes they had a 6’8” power forward that can stretch the floor, this Sun Devil team has that along with a 6’8” power forward who can rebound. Gilling has upped his rebounds per game to 7.1 from last year’s abysmal 1.9, and has completely transformed himself on the defensive end. The change started last year in ASU’s win over Arizona. Despite the fact that Gilling was only a freshman, he stepped up hitting 3 huge shots down the stretch. He’s shown that he’s not only a physical player, but a mentally strong one as well.
Jahii Carson: The most hyped recruit for ASU basketball since James Harden, Jahii has not disappointed so far this year. He leads the team in scoring and assists, while providing an element of athleticism and dribble penetration that hasn’t been seen in years at ASU. While Jahii missed out on last year due to academic issues, he has shown that he is the real deal. Despite his 5’10” frame, he drives the lane with a reckless abandon, and is the team’s most talented player by far.
Jordan Bachynski: I’m starting to think that Jordan should change his last name to Jordan Blockynski. Jordan has turned his natural gift of being 7’2” into a real weapon this year. The big man is third in the nation in blocked shots averaging 4.6 per game. That doesn’t even begin to mention the amount of shots that he has changed and caused to miss merely by being near the hoop. He recorded the first triple double in ASU history earlier this year, with 12 points, 11 rebounds and an astonishing 12 blocked shots. Jordan has been able to turn himself into a lanky tall kid with no real coordination into a possible NBA prospect. His scoring and touch around the basket really needs some work before he has a chance to go to the next level, and his strength could use some work, but so far this season, he’s the runner up MVP, finishing second only to:
Carrack Felix: What hasn’t the senior leader done this year for the Sun Devils? He scores, he rebounds, he blocks shots, and is the heart and soul of this team. Sendek is obviously very proud of his senior leader, “He’s just played with so much heart. I mean every second of every possession he just gives everything he has. He’s really been fun to watch. He’s been great to coach, just has had an exemplary attitude, tremendous leadership.” There really isn’t a better way to describe this guy, and when you throw that in with his freakish athleticism, he makes this team work. An example is a play that occurred in the Colorado win: Felix went up for a shot and had it blocked, that started a fast break on the other end, where somehow Felix corralled himself, sprinted down the court and blocked the fast break attempt LeBron James style from behind, setting up a 3 pointer on the other end. This is a player that truly does put everything on the line, and he might just earn himself a chance at the next level.
Naturally I have to mention that coming up on January 19th is the true test for this team. ASU faces bitter rival Arizona in Tempe in what is by far the biggest test of the year. Arizona so far is the #4 team in the country and hasn’t lost yet this season. If some heads were turned by the Devils being able to take care of Colorado, just imagine what they’ll be saying if they take down a top 5 team. This is shaping up to be a great season for basketball here in the valley of the sun, and it’s crazy to me that it’s not coming from Phoenix, but rather that college town of Tempe.


ASU’s Best wins over “That School”

I know, I know, another ASU post. But for me, this is a special time. We all remember my post last year about sports hate, and it’s that time of year again. The big game, ASU vs UA, The Duel in the Desert. As we go into this years version on the traditional day after Thanksgiving, I thought it’d be appropriate to give thanks to those Sun Devil teams that have destroyed, shocked, and otherwise humiliated those pathetic teams from down south. So, without further ado, I give you the top 5 wins (for me) for ASU over UA.

5. 1899 – Yup, the first one. The Devils started off this rivalry the right way back before we even had college sports or the forward pass…or a traditional scoring system: ASU won this game by the odd score of 11-2. Obviously this game was played so long ago that all we have is newspaper accounts of the circumstances surrounding the game. The game was played in Tucson in front of about 300 fans on Thanksgiving that year, and from all accounts the “Tempe Normal School” had bigger and faster players. The rivalry wasn’t heated back then, as the university players welcomed their guests and shared Thanksgiving dinner with them after the game.

4. 2007 – Arizona State had a strong start to this season, but had fizzled out a bit late in the season, losing to Oregon and USC. ASU still had strong BCS bowl hopes that year, but couldn’t get the offense going. This game featured one of the most amazing catches you’ll ever see by a wide receiver, as Chris McGaha leaped to catch a high lofted throw from quarterback Rudy Carpenter. McGaha somehow managed to grip the very back tip of the ball as he tumbled to the ground to give ASU a first and goal at the 1 yard line. ASU finished at 10-2 after the 20-17 victory and Arizona finished at 5-7 to keep head coach Mike Stoops and quarterback Willie Tuitama out of a bowl and home for the holidays for the 10th straight year. See below for McGaha’s incredible catch.

3. 1975 – You want high Stakes? (mmm steak) An undefeated #8 ASU team facing off against a 9-1 #12 ranked UA team with a berth in the Fiesta Bowl high enough for you? This is one of the games that started to show the country that those “little” teams from Arizona could compete with the big boys of the country, and was a pivotal in the schools’ acceptance to the Pac 10 (at the time). ASU started slowly in this game, being down 14-3 at the tail end of the first half. The Sun Devils got inside the UA 10 yard line with a chance to get at least a field goal before half time. Then, this happened:

The catch. Nothing else needs to be said

Quarterback Dennis Sproul threw a slant pattern to all-everything wide receiver John “JJ” Jefferson and seemed to miss him badly but JJ stretched out to dive literally horizontal to the ground and made an amazing grab, known today merely as “The Catch.” That catch gave ASU some much-needed momentum into the half to eventually beat UA 24-21. ASU went on to the fiesta bowl to shock #6 Nebraska 17-14 to finish the season with a #2 ranking and (in some media outlets) a National Championship.


**UPDATE*** Video is now available for “The Catch”

2. 2010 – “IT’S BLOCKED!” Times two.

I must admit, I am a little biased to the more recent games. Having attended the majority of ASU vs UA games since I started college, (since 2003 I’ve only not attended in 2004, ‘06 and ’10) I feel that I have a connection to the players and the rivalry in the past decade. But this game would be at the top of anyone’s list. For the entire season, ASU had found ways to lose, whether it was getting an extra point blocked (Wisconsin AND USC) or turning the ball over 7 times (Oregon), ASU found a way to blow it, and this game seemed to be going that same way. ASU scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to take a 6 point lead, thanks largely to a TD pass to Mike Willie. Arizona responded by scoring a tying touchdown with 27 seconds left before “The James Brooks Block Party” began. All UA had to do was kick the extra point to give UA the lead and most likely the victory, but Brooks “jumped out of the gym” in order to block Alex Zendejas’ try. The teams traded scores in the first and second OT before the block party continued to end the game. For your viewing pleasure:

And the second one:

Unfortunately I wasn’t at this game, but the restaurant I was at went absolutely insane. People were hugging strangers, throwing beer in the air and cheering as loudly as possible. The game was so unexpected and memorable with so many highs and lows that it has to be near the top.

1. 1996 – Any debate about the greatest wins comes down to whether you factor in dominance vs excitement. My #2 choice was probably the most exciting game in the rivalry, but #1 is the most dominant by ASU. Everything about that ’96 season was dominant: A 19-0 shutout of #1 Nebraska, an undefeated regular season, and to finish it out, a 56-14 beat down of the Wildcats in Tucson. ASU dominated their will in every facet of the game, gaining over 650 yards of offense to UA’s 170 and blocking two UA kicks. All American Jake Plummer threw three TDs and Scored another 3. Even third string running back Marlon Farlow got in the act scoring two TDs in the fourth quarter, while ASU was just pounding the ball up the middle trying to kill the clock.  The game was really summed up with this picture:

Greatest photo in history?

After catching a TD pass in the second quarter to extend the lead to 14, ASU wide receiver Keith Poole was hit late by UA corner back Chris McCallister. Knowing retaliation would start a fight and possibly penalize the team, Poole decided to just celebrate his touchdown…right in McCallister’s face. Arizona pulled out all the stops for that game, and was simply blown away by a much better ASU team.

God I miss those days, let’s hope Friday is a repeat of that domination.

Sports Hate

To start off, I want to clarify something. Hate is not OK. Hate is bad, hate is strong, and I try to never use that word in my day-to-day vocabulary. However, “sports hate” is completely different. Sports hate is great because, like sports in general, it allows the passion of “hate” without the anger behind it. For the rest of this post, any time I say “hate,” it will be in reference to sports hate.

That being said, I hate the University of Arizona. Continue reading Sports Hate