Sun Devils men's basketball team enjoying great start to season

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

After winning just 10 games last year, Arizona State has opened the season at 8-1.

Just like that, the Arizona State Sun Devils are two wins away from matching their entire win total from last season.

The turnaround for the Sun Devils, now 8-1, has athletic director Steve Patterson very pleased with his team's direction, Dave Dulberg of Arizona Sports reported on Tuesday.

Then again, the Sun Devils haven't exactly played the toughest competition to open the season, with their strength of schedule ranking 250th out of 347. That doesn't have Patterson blinking an eye, however. He cites Jordan Bachynski's first triple-double in school history as an example of why the Sun Devils are fun to watch.

Regardless of quality of opposition or not, coach Herb Sendek has gone back to the basics with the ASU defense - no opposing team has shot higher than 50 percent. Patterson cites Sendek's coaching job with the turnaround for the Sun Devils.

"I think we certainly handle the ball much better with our new backcourt players. We're able to get the ball over half court and get into our offense.

"I think Jonathan Gilling has matured and is shooting the ball better. Carrick Felix is really athletic, and we're getting the ball up-and-down the court. And I like our coaching staff. A lot of great progress in just a year."

Arizona State's non-conference schedule remains pretty mellow, with a big game at Texas Tech in the Pac-12/Big-12 Challenge. But with the Pac-12 rejuvenated after a couple down years, the conference play will prove a challenge for this Sun Devil team.

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