Sports Illustrated review - Arizona State & Arizona


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Oct 3, 2002
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Arizona St. Sun Devils​

The Lowdown
Coach: Rob Evans
2004-05 Record (Pac-10): 18-14 (7-11)
Key Losses:
G Jason Braxton (5.4 ppg, 3.6 apg),
F/C Ike Diogu (22.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.3 bpg),
G Steve Moore (12.2 ppg, 2.3 apg)

Postseason: NIT Lost to UNLV 89-78 in the first round

Returning Players
Player Pos.Ht.Yr.PPG RPG APG
20 Robby Alridge G6'1"Jr.
45 Serge Angounou F6'8"Jr.
32 Craig Austin F6'10"So.
33 Tyrone Jackson G6'2"Sr.
12 Bryson Krueger G6'7"Jr.
13 Kevin Kruger G6'2"Jr.
0 Allen MorillF 6'7"Sr.


00 Antwi AtuaheneG6'3"So.Mississauga, ON/Trinity Valley (TX) CC
31 Bruno ClaudinoF6'8"Jr.San Paulo, Brazil/College of Southern Idaho
44 Chad GoldsteinF6'9"Fr.Scottsdale, AZ/Transfer from UC-Davis
4 Jeff PendergraphF6'9"Fr.Etiwanda, CA/Etiwanda
21 Sylvester SeayF6'9"Fr.San Bernardino, CA/Winchendon (MA) School

Seay, a 6-foot-9 native of San Bernardino, Calif., who spent last season at Winchendon School in Massachusetts, will likely slide right into the starting lineup. Atuahene is already being called the second best Canadian guard in Arizona -- next to the Suns' Steve Nash. Pendergraph is considered a good scorer, but he will have to meet Evans' stringent defensive requirements. Claudino is a physical forward but was troubled by injures in junior college. Goldstein transferred to ASU after just one semester at UC-Davis. He will be eligible at the conclusion of the fall semester.

Ike Diogu agonized for weeks over whether to leave Arizona State for the NBA. Diogu is gone. But the agony figures to stick around.

Barring some major surprises in the wake of Diogu's departure, the Sun Devils and their coach, Rob Evans, face a season loaded with tough questions.

Above all, Evans is on the hot seat and his job appears to be on the line.

The Suns Devils went two straight seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance despite the dominance of Diogu, last season's Pac-10 Player of the Year and the No. 9 overall pick of the Golden State Warriors in June's NBA Draft.

Evans' future was shoved to the back burner when athletic director Gene Smith moved to Ohio State. But the pressure is back on.

In June, negotiations stalled on a two-year extension to Evans' contract, which currently runs through the 2006-07 season. The ASU administration has balked at guaranteeing any part of the extension. Evans' attorney, Dennis Coleman, suggested the school was one step away from firing him. Despite the uncertainty of the situation, Evans remains hopeful.

"The book is never closed," he says.

Only a stellar recruiting class, some maturation from a couple of returning starters and a surprising 2005-06 season can keep it open.


Serge Angounou, Diogu's old roommate, is the key to the Devils' frontcourt. The 6-foot-8 forward has been trying to make a complete comeback from a knee injury suffered in a 2002 exhibition game. He showed great promise during the early portion of the season, as ASU rolled out to an 11-1 start, but he struggled with fatigue during Pac-10 play.

Returning forward Allen Morill is not much of a scorer, but he provides some toughness and leadership, which could be pivotal with Diogu gone.

Craig Austin is a possibility at center. The 6-10 Austin averaged just 1.0 point per game as a freshman, but showed he knew how to play the game. With last year's experience as a foundation, he might be able to make a more significant contribution this season.

The wild card in the frontcourt is Sylvester Seay, who spent last year at a prep school in Massachusetts. Glowing scouting reports precede Seay's arrival at ASU. If they're accurate, ASU coaches are hopeful he can step into Diogu's spot at power forward.


Kevin Kruger, the son of UNLV coach Lon Kruger, plays with the smarts of a kid who grew up in basketball family. Evans will need all of that savvy and more. The question is whether Evans will start Kruger, now a junior, or continue to use him primarily as a sixth man. Though he started just 11 games, Kruger ranked second to Diogu in minutes played (29.8) and averaged 11.0 points and 3.4 assists.

The decision whether to start Kruger hinges on three players -- shooting guard Bryson Krueger, playmaker Tyrone Jackson and newcomer Antwi Atuahene.

Krueger returns as a projected starter. He's got great range on his jumper, but his defensive liabilities last year frustrated Sun Devil coaches and often led to an early seat on the bench.

Jackson was seen as a possible solution to ASU's long-running problems at the point, but he only showed flashes of ability last season.

Atuahene, a top-rated prospect from Toronto, arrives at ASU from Trinity Valley Community College in Texas. He is capable of playing either backcourt position.

Final Analysis

On paper, at least, Arizona State is facing a difficult season. After exhibiting great promise in Diogu's freshman campaign, they struggled the next two seasons -- yet did enough for Evans to keep his job.

In order to remain the Sun Devils' coach for an eighth season, Evans will likely need to lead ASU on an improbable run to the NCAA tournament. While Angounou and Kruger could ride to Evans' rescue, a search for a new coach appears more likely than a postseason tournament appearance next spring.

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Arizona Wildcats

The Lowdown
Coach: Lute Olson
2004-05 Record (Pac-10): 30-7 (15-3)
Key Losses:
C Channing Frye (15.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg),
G Salim Stoudamire (18.4 ppg, 50.4 3-pt FG)

Postseason: NCAA: Defeated Utah State 66-53, defeated UAB 85-63, defeated Oklahoma State 79-78, lost to Illinois 90-89 in the regional finals
Returning Players

No.Player Pos. Ht. Yr. PPG RPG APG
21 Hassan AdamsG/F6'4"Sr.
44 Bret BrielmaierF6'6"So.
12 Daniel DillonG6'3"So.
2I saiah FoxF6'9"Sr.
5 Jawann McClellanG6'4"So.
55 Ivan RadenovicF6'10"Jr.
13 Chris RodgersG6'4"Sr.
15 Mustafa ShakurG6'3"Jr.
33 Mohamed TangaraF6'9"Fr.
23 Jesus VerdejoG/F6'4"So.
54 Kirk WaltersC6'10"Jr.

Fresh Faces

No. Player Pos. Ht. Cl. School
11 David BaggaG/F6'6"Fr.Foothill Ranch, CA/Mater Dei
24 Fendi OnobunF6'6"Fr.Houston, TX/Alief Taylor
30 J.P. PrinceG6'7"Fr.Memphis, TN/White Station
3 Marcus WilliamsF6'7"Fr.Seattle, WA/Roosevelt

Williams is a versatile and gifted shooter who should make an immediate impact. The 'Cats hope he can be as productive as fellow Seattle products Jason Terry and Michael Dickerson once were. Prince, a 6-7 point guard, was impressive playing in Tucson's Summer Pro League while he attended summer school. Onobun played all over the court as a high school star. At Arizona, he'll probably settle in as a combo player, moving between power forward and wing forward. Bagga is a walk-on.
At 71, Lute Olson has made his Arizona program younger and more ambitious, answering inevitable inquiries concerning his retirement -- "not yet, not even close," he says -- by accelerating his pace.

Rather than take the summer off, Olson established an elite camp, inviting many ex-Wildcats in the NBA back to Tucson as camp counselors, generating recruiting momentum.

He then remade his organization's image by hiring Miles Simon (30 years old), Arizona's MVP at the 1997 Final Four, and Reggie Geary (32 years old), a former All-Pac-10 guard at Arizona, as assistant coaches.

"You can't afford to sit back and feel good about what you've done," says Olson, who enters his 23rd season at Arizona. "This league is more competitive than ever. There is no place for feeling comfortable."


The immediate issue is replacing NBA lottery pick Channing Frye, a four-year starter and a two-time all-conference pick.

Rather than designate a starter, Olson is likely to use four players in the two inside power positions -- 6-foot-10 junior Kirk Walters, 6-9 senior Isaiah Fox, 6-10 junior Ivan Radenovic and redshirt freshman Mohamed Tangara, who missed most of his first season with a back injury.

"We like the versatility of that group," says Jim Rosborough, Arizona's associate head coach. "All four have a different way to play."

The key among the frontcourt players is Fox. A starter 20 times in his career, he fell into a slump last year. Olson benched Fox, rarely using him during meaningful situations. Now, Fox, who lost 30 pounds to get down to about 260, gets one last chance.


Junior point guard Mustafa Shakur has not met Arizona's nearly impossible standards for a point guard, a position played at the school by NBA standouts Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Kerr, Jason Terry and Damon Stoudamire.

Shakur will engage in a preseason battle for his job with touted freshman J.P. Prince, a 6-7 Memphis prep All-American and cousin of Detroit Pistons star Tayshaun Prince.

"J.P. has long arms and is an aggressive player, attacking the basket," says 28-year-old assistant Josh Pastner. "He'll be a factor. He's going to be very good."

When Shakur was good during his sophomore year, he was dazzling. But between his bursts of excellence, he was notably ineffective. With good size and blazing speed, Shakur will be challenged for minutes for the first time in his career. The situation should result in strong point guard play once again for Olson.

The two wing positions are deep and talented. Splitting playing time among six players will create terrific practice competition.

Returning starter Hassan Adams will probably be Arizona's leading scorer and go-to player. With almost 1,300 points in his UA career, Adams is blessed with remarkable jumping ability and open-court speed. He'll have the incentive of playing for NBA Draft position in his final season in Tucson. As a bonus, he can also play power forward when necessary.

Jawann McClellan, a potential star, was pegged to be Arizona's starter at shooting guard, but was ruled academically ineligible for the first semester after failing a summer-school class. In '04-05, McClellan replaced Chris Rodgers as Arizona's sixth man in the NCAA tournament. The Cats can also turn to Rodgers, a defensive specialist; Jesus Verdejo, known for his shooting; Australian native Daniel Dillon; or prized freshman Marcus Williams.

Final Analysis

Olson has very high expectations for the Wildcats.

"This is a team that will have a great shot at the Pac-10 championship again," he says. "It will be the kind of team, because of the day-to-day fight for playing time, that will only get better and better."

But will the Wildcats have a big-game performer to replace the type of play Frye and Salim Stoudamire gave them last season?

"We've certainly got a lot of guys who are capable of taking on that role," says Rosborough.