An 8-19 season is hard for anyone to swallow. Now imagine having to witness it all firsthand from the bench.
The old saying goes that misery loves company. But then again, maybe that love isn't so strong when you're forced to endure these hardships with a sense of helplessness from the bench.
In the Sun Devils' arduous 8-19 season, the two guards have been forced to the role of practice bodies due to NCAA transfer rules requiring them to sit out for one season. And the time that seemed like it might fly by before has become more grueling with each added loss.
"It's been tougher than I thought," Barnes said. "Before the season started I thought it would go by quick but actually sitting out and not being able to play has been really hard."
Barnes, a Phoenix native and former Scottsdale Christian standout, grew up wanting to play in this program and eventually decided to make his return after growing a little homesick during his Freshman campaign at Hawaii in which he averaged 6.9 points a game. And although the 6'4" three-point specialist isn't exactly over-joyed about his current situation, he's using this angst as motivation to further build his game, a point his fellow spectator Gordon has taken notice to.
"I thought he was just a stand still shooter but he has a lot to his game," Gordon said.
Gordon, brother of former Clipper and current injured New Orleans Hornet guard Eric Gordon, lead Liberty in scoring with 14.4 points per game during his sophomore campaign before requesting release from his scholarship in hopes of furthering his point guard abilities. The most frustrating aspect of it all for the "do-it-all" scorer, as Barnes calls him, is that he knows he could undoubtedly provide a boost to a team who is averaging a mere 60.2 PPG, third worst in the Pac-12.
"Just watching us kind of struggle this year hurts but it makes me more hungry for next year," Gordon said.
For now, Gordon translates that hunger to his scout team play along side Barnes and the also ineligible Jahii Carson, who Gordon claims is the most developed guard to never play in a college game that he's ever seen. And even though Head Coach Herb Sendek would much rather get that trio some real minutes, he still knows the value of talent in any shape or form.
"Both [Barnes and Gordon] have really helped us in practice," Sendek said. "We've been fortunate in that standpoint to have three guys [along with Carson] that are able to really increase the competitiveness of our practices."
In fact, Gordon even modestly admits that the scout team (Dave Whitmore and Pierre Newton included) has actually beat the starters in practice at times. While that may be concerning to some coaches, it brings nothing but excitement for the future of the team for Sendek.
"We have good players in the program and good players coming into our program," Sendek said. "We stay at it, we grind, we teach and we work...our guys are going to bring everything that we've gone through together with them forward to next year."