Beards growing with win streak

02-18-09 Bbball Harden
Sophomore guard James Harden drives to the basket against Washington State on Jan. 29 at Wells Fargo Arena.(Damien Maloney/The State Press)
Published On:
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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ASU junior guard Derek Glasser came into Tuesday’s press conference looking like Grizzly Adams.

Sporting a full beard, Glasser was fresh off Sunday’s career-high 18-point performance in the Sun Devils’ 65-53 win over USC.

The scruff, which he described as itchy and uncomfortable, has been growing ever since ASU dropped back-to-back contests to the Washington schools two weeks ago.

No. 14 ASU (20-5, 9-4 Pac-10) has gone a perfect 4-0 since. Should Sun Devil fans be afraid that he said he would probably shave it off Tuesday night?

Nah.

While Glasser has become a bigger offensive threat in recent weeks, it isn’t because of any facial hair. ASU coach Herb Sendek rather, tweaked Glasser’s shot early in the season, telling him not to jump so high. The junior said he’s been shooting about 50 percent ever since.

As for the beard phenomenon, it doesn’t stop with Glasser. It seems everyone has been trying to follow ASU sophomore guard James Harden’s lead.

“Coach wants me to trim it down a little bit,” Harden said. “But I told him ‘Not right now. We’re doing good with this beard.’ I’ve seen [NBA player] Baron Davis with a thick beard, so why not try it?”

Harden said that his teammates, namely Jeff Pendergraph, Jerren Shipp and Ty Abbott, have been trying to grow beards recently.

Glasser’s doing the best so far, with Pendergraph’s chin strap coming in second. Meanwhile, Shipp and Abbott are pulling up the rear.

“Jerren can’t get it,” Harden said. “He’s got a baby face. Some of the guys, it just won’t happen.”

The bearded Sun Devils have since moved up in the Associated Press top 25 as a result of their weekend sweep of No. 20 UCLA and USC. For the second time this season, ASU is the highest ranked Pac-10 Conference team in the polls.

ASU’s next opponent, UA, has also garnered attention in the AP poll, sitting just four spots out of the top 25. Cal is just behind them, giving the Pac-10 five of the top 30 teams in the land, according to the Associated Press.

Pendergraph is the lone senior on ASU’s team, and he said this is the most balanced he’s ever seen the conference in his four years in the league.

“Everybody’s beating everybody,” he said. “That’s kind of crazy.

Usually it’s a big gap between first and ninth, but now it’s super close.”

No. 22 Washington (19-6, 10-3) holds sole possession of first place after its home sweep of the Oregon schools.

The Sun Devils sit alone in second place, but UCLA and Cal trail by just half a game. UA (8-5) and USC (6-6) round out the top six.

With Sunday’s win over USC, ASU secured its second consecutive 20-win season. No longer does that guarantee an NCAA berth, though — something Sendek and Pendergraph are very aware of.

After Sunday’s game, Sendek compared the 20-win milestone to vapor.

Pendergraph agreed.

“You can’t really put a big emphasis on 20 wins,” Pendergraph said.

“It doesn’t really get you anything. At the end of the season, you can’t win a conference championship with 20 wins.”

Students are encouraged to get their ticket vouchers as soon as possible. The University is expecting to give out its alloted number of student vouchers well before Sunday’s contest with UA.

Reach the reporter at alex.espinoza@asu.edu.