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January 19, 2010 at 11:47 AM

Arizona State’s matchup zone befuddles Pac-10 coaches

Just concluded the Pac-10 men’s basketball teleconference and all the buzz surrounded conference leading Arizona State and it’s mathup zone that’s allowed a league-low 54.7 points per game this season.
Despite the loss of James Harden, the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, and Jeff Pendergrath, who was the first pick in the second round, the Sun Devils are 14-5 and 4-2 in Pac-10.
Coach Herb Sendek doesn’t give away a lot of trade secrets in the media and today was no exception.
(Was your team motivated by being overlooked?) “I don’t things are that constant for us. We’ve had days when I’ve wondered how motivated we really were. We’ve had our struggles. For us it’s a continuation of a process. I think by and large our guys, like all of the teams in the Pac-10, want to do well and are trying their best.”
(Statistically the defense is better this season than last season?) “I don’t think you can put a lot of credence into that. Our team is different and all of the teams we’re competing against are different. That could be pretty misleading. Our guys have done a good job trying to get better. When we watch the tape, we have a great deal to improve and a lot to learn.”
Oregon coach Ernie Kent:
(Why is Arizona State’s defense better than last season?)
“They hustle really well in it. They’re better in because they understand it better because they got a few guys that are a little older playing it. But I think they are really good offensively. I think that has helped them. They’re really skilled. They can really shoot the ball. They share it very well. They got four guys that can shoot the three on you and I just think they’re understanding in what they’re doing offensively, their patience to get good shots offensively has helped their defense.

(How have they compensated without Harden and Pendergraph?)
“There was probably that concern, but I think it’s compensated by just playing excellent team basketball. Not that they weren’t before. … They play really well as a team. They really share the ball. They really give it up to each other well. They got a lot of confidence in each other and consequently they’re playing well right now.”
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson:
(What are your thoughts on Arizona State?)
“I thought we did a really good job of preparing for what they do part of it is because we play a zone ourselves and are use to attacking it everyday in practice. I thought we did a very good job of reversing the ball and getting open looks and for a change, we were making shots. I think that’s the key when you play against a tough defense like Arizona State.”
(Differences between the 1-3-1 zone and the matchup zone?) “The 1-3-1 is a completely different defense. When you play against a matchup (zone) and Arizona State plays it really well, you have to allow for the ball to get inside and you have to work inside out. I thought we did a good job of doing that.”

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