It hasn't been the easiest year for Arizona State. Coming off a last-place finish in the Pac-10, the Sun Devils began this season 3-5. They learned that top recruit Jahii Carson, who was expected to take over point guard duties and provide the program with a game-changing talent, was ruled academically ineligible for the season.
A win at home against North Dakota State might not change the fortunes for ASU this season, but for a brief moment, the Sun Devils had much to celebrate. On a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the game, Carrick Felix, Trent Lockett and Chanse Creekmur combined to pull off an inbound play reminiscent of Valparaiso's to win an NCAA tournament game.
"It was great to see our team celebrate with that kind of joy," coach Herb Sendek told reporters. "That is something that we have talked about a great deal together. Second, a little birdie told me that immediately, Carrick and Trent found themselves together and spontaneously, they each credited the other. Not surprisingly, two of our highest character guys. So, it was a great play to finish the game."
Sendek's joy after the game came in stark contrast to the frustration he felt following the team's previous game when it lost at home to Nevada after which these comments were made by the coach to the Arizona Republic.
"This isn't nuclear physics. It's really simple. You have to play with great energy and effort all the time unless your talent quotient is just so overwhelming that you can take pockets off. We obviously don't have an overwhelming talent quotient, so we've got to be tenacious and simultaneously smart. We were neither."
"Careless, uncalled for sloppy passes. Not sharp and crisp. Not smart decisions. Not treasuring the basketball. Treating the basketball as if we were at a gym class. I've seen dodge ball games in gym classes where they've taken better care of the ball."
Yes, Arizona State still has much to improve upon if it's going to establish itself as a contender in the Pac-12. But with one magical play, the Sun Devils showed what perfection in 1.8 seconds could mean for them.