It didn’t take long for Jerren Shipp and Christian Polk to impact the Arizona State record book. By simply stepping onto the floor for the opening tip of Monday’s loss to Northern Arizona, they became the fourth freshman duo of the last 20 years to start in their ASU debuts.
Shipp and Polk went on to break Jamal Faulkner’s 16-year-old ASU freshman record of 18 points in a debut by tallying 23 and 22 points, respectively. When an athletic department official alerted Shipp he had set the record, it was news to the 18-year-old from Los Angeles.
“He just told me,” said Shipp, the younger brother of former California Bear Joe Shipp and current UCLA Bruin Josh Shipp. “I’d rather have the win than the record. I don’t care about the record.”
It was only the second time in ASU history two freshmen scored 20 or more points in a game. The only other time it happened was last season when Sylvester Seay and Jeff Pendergraph each scored 21 against Oregon.
Derek Glasser, also a freshman guard, didn’t score in 14 minutes, but he had five rebounds and three assists in his debut. And freshman forward George Odufuwa recorded a block in one minute of play.
All four freshmen were on the floor at one point late in the first half.
ASU lost half its scoring punch when guards Kevin Kruger and Bryson Krueger prematurely left the program for different reasons during the offseason, so there were plenty of offensive opportunities to be claimed by the program’s newcomers.
The importance of the freshmen was evident in their playing time Monday night. Shipp played a team-high 39 minutes and Polk was second with 35 minutes.
“I really like the futures of both of those young men,” coach Herb Sendek said. “We’re going to ask them to do more than probably any freshman should be asked to do in their first year - which is basically everything.”
TOO MANY 3-POINTERS
The Sun Devils can be expected to put up their share of 3-pointers, but the 36 attempts Monday night were a bit much even for Sendek.
The team hit just 10-of-36 3s (27.8 percent) and often hoisted them before running through the offense. Polk hit just 2-of-11 attempts and Sylvester Seay hit just 1-of-7 tries.
Seay did not have an assist or attempt a two-point field goal in the game.
“We were really on way too many possessions quick to settle for outside challenged shots,” Sendek said. “Nobody loves the 3 in college basketball more than I do. We’re going to use it here and we’re going to use it well. But with our group we have to be a little more judicious with it.”
IT’S IN THE MAIL
ASU still hasn’t announced the signing of 6-foot-6 swingman Rihards Kuksiks even though the early signing period ends today.
Kuksiks, a Latvian who has been prepping at the Florida Air Academy the last two years, verbally committed to the Sun Devils, choosing them over St. John’s and Virginia Tech last week, but he has to have his mother in Latvia sign his letter-ofintent before the commitment becomes official.
NCAA rules prohibit ASU from commenting on a recruit who has not yet signed. However, Florida Air Academy coach Aubin Goporo said Tuesday night that Kuksik’s mother had signed the letter that morning and it is en route to Tempe via Federal Express. “I think we are in good shape,” Goporo said. “He is going to Arizona State.”
Cal State San Bernardino at Arizona State
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Wells Fargo Arena
Radio: ESPN (860 AM)