After opening its season at Kansas on a Saturday, Northern Arizona flew directly to Phoenix for a Monday game against Arizona State. The Lumberjacks did not practice upon arrival in the Valley.
There just wasn’t enough time with all the mental work it took to prepare for ASU’s offense.
“And yet they still made us pay on several back cuts,” NAU coach Mike Adras said after his team’s 75-71 win on Nov. 13. “Later on down the road when teams have to go to Tucson first then try to come here and play, it’s no picnic when you have only one day to prepare.”
The theory that Herb Sendek’s offense is so unorthodox that it might result in a Pac-10 upset or two all on its own will be tested at 8 tonight when California visits Wells Fargo Arena.
After a hot start, the Golden Bears have lost four of their last six games including Thursday’s 94-85 loss at Arizona in which they trailed by as many as 26 points. They haven’t been the same team since 6-foot-11 junior DeVon Hardin was lost for two to three months with a stress fracture in his foot.
His backup, 6-11 sophomore Jordan Wilkes, was lost for the season to a knee injury earlier.
If the Sun Devils don’t score a victory tonight, they could be in for a bit of a wait. They visit the Washington schools – who own a combined record of 21-4 – next weekend before hosting undefeated and 20th-ranked Oregon.
“We’re not going to be woeis-me,” Sendek said after ASU dropped its 22nd Pac-10 opener — 71-60 to Stanford Thursday — in 29 years in the conference. “I don’t know what our record’s going to be. We’re going to be a next-game team.”
If it takes until Oregon State’s visit on Jan. 13 (or longer) for ASU to pick up its next victory, Sendek promises not to allow himself to become disappointed by results.
Following the loss to Stanford, he asked that Sun Devil fans – 7,656 of whom attended the game – stay positive as well.
“We should embrace this team,” Sendek said. “We should cheer for them like we do when we go to our kids’ soccer games because we love our guys. I’m not going to hang my head.”
California at Arizona State
Records: Cal 8-5, 0-1 Pac-10; ASU 6-6, 0-1
When: 8 p.m. today
Where: Wells Fargo Arena
TV/Radio: FSN Arizona/KMVP (860 AM)
Scouting report: ASU — In Thursday’s loss to Stanford, Jeff Pendergraph scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but he didn’t get much help as the team was flummoxed by a tough match-up zone. The Sun Devils shot 23-of-52 (44.2 percent) from the field, including 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) from 3-point range. They have not shot over 45 percent from the field since a Nov. 25 win over Iowa. Jerren Shipp missed his first start of the season against Stanford after suffering a slight knee injury earlier in the week. He scored six points in a season-low 17 minutes. Cal — The Golden Bears won six of their first seven games, but have dropped four of their last six including Thursday’s loss at Arizona. Cal is led by Ryan Anderson, a 6-foot-10 freshman who is as dangerous on the perimeter as he is near the basket. He averaged 17.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and hit 45.6 percent of his 3-point shots in nonconference play, though he was limited to 16 points and four rebounds on Thursday. Senior Ayinde Ubaka is a steady presence at the point and leads the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio.