Arizona State Basketball
2008 saw a dismal performance by the Arizona State Sun Devils, finishing at 4-5 conference and 5-7 overall. After beginning the season 2-0 beating the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks (30-13) and the Stanford Cardinal (41-17), the Sun Devils went on a six game slide, effectively ending any hope at a good Bowl game at season’s end, thus ending quarterback Rudy Carpenter’s career on a sour note. To make matters worse, Arizona State had a chance to finish the season even at 6-6, going into the annual season ending game against rival University Arizona Wildcats, in the Territorial Cup, only to lose (10-31).
2009 holds a bit of a hopeful outlook as the Sun Devils have had a fairly strong recruiting season. Third year coach Dennis Erickson has been used to signing the highly sought after recruits from his days of glory as the National Champions at Miami. This off season, the Sun Devils had the chance to sign home state stand-out defensive player Devon Kennard, but lost him to conference heavy-weight University of Southern California Trojans. However, even with this loss there is hope as Coach Erickson was able to sign linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the highest-rated signee in school history, from Centennial High School in Corona, Calif., away from the Trojans. Burfict has begun to be compared to Raven’s star Linebacker, Ray Lewis, who was the greatest player Coach Erickson had ever signed.
Arizona State has also picked up a few others that give hope for this coming season as starters, or as back-ups to learn the system behind proven players, so they can start in the seasons to come. With 240 tackles and 34 sacks during his three-year prep career, Defensive Tackle Corey Adams from Scottsdale Saguaro High should have no problems jumping straight into the mix this coming season. The Sun Devil’s Offensive Line has allowed a painful amount of sacks over the last couple of seasons, which should allow Kody Koebensky of Scottsdale, AZ to start right away. The local stand-out can play either Guard or Tackle.
Overall, after putting together a great recruiting class in 2008, which ranked as highly as 16th in the nation, Erickson managed to put together another excellent group of newcomers consisting of elite athletes from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana and Utah. Erickson’s latest group consists of 21 student athletes, consisting of 19 high school players and two junior college transfers, while excellent talent, speed and athleticism has been enhanced at every position on the team. Nine of these players rated among the top 30 in the nation at their positions.
Though with any program there are growing pains as players graduate or leave early for the draft, this season is shaping up to be one of promise. Of course perhaps not an immediate jump to the top 25 but at least better than last season, and hopefully a ramp in the right direction. Behind the leadership of Dennis Erickson, this talented young group has nowhere to go but up.