Editorial: ASU posts net gains

When one thinks of the basketball powerhouses of the Pac-10, certain schools come to mind immediately. For the men, UCLA and The School That Shall Not Be Named boast national titles, NBA stars and conference titles galore. On the women’s side, Stanford and its 18 Pac-10 titles is the most dominant women’s basketball program west of Tennessee.

While ASU still has a long way to go to reach the level of those elite teams, both the men’s and women’s basketball programs have put their names on the map of Pac-10 powerhouses, in large part due to the class of seniors playing its final regular season games this weekend.

First, the men’s team.

When Derek Glasser and Jerren Shipp showed up on campus as freshmen in the fall of 2006, ASU had won a combined 15 Pac-10 games in the previous three seasons. Their freshman season wasn’t much better, as ASU went 8-22 and 2-16 overall in the Pac-10.

Then something amazing happened. Helped in large part by the growth of Jeff Pendergraph and the arrival of James Harden, ASU won 20 games in each of the next two seasons. And now this year, without Pendergraph and Harden, the Sun Devils have won 20 games yet again.

While much of the credit goes to coach Herb Sendek for the astounding turnaround, it’s important to note the importance of Glasser and Shipp as well. The two stuck it out during that miserable freshman year, and were significant contributors to the ASU turnaround, Glasser in particular.

Eric Boateng sat out as a transfer during the 2006-07 season, but he steadily gained playing time and has contributed significantly this year.

All three of them can say they were a part of one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college basketball history, and significant contributors as well.

The women’s basketball turnaround began a little bit earlier, as Charli Turner Thorne had gotten ASU to the NCAA Tournament in 2001.

As the program began to establish itself as a legitimate national power, quality players came in bunches.

Among those quality players were Danielle Orsillo, Kayli Murphy and Gabby Fage.

Now seniors, all three have left an indelible mark on the ASU women’s basketball program, with the team making Elite Eight appearances in 2006 and 2008 with help from all three of those players in some capacity. Orsillo will finish her career with more than 1000 points, Murphy has been a key post presence and Fage played the role of big-time player in ASU’s stunning upset of Florida State in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

If a student had come to ASU 10 years ago, the state of the basketball programs would have been moribund, with an occasional one-year improvement (see the 2003 men’s team).

Now, in part due to Glasser, Shipp, Boateng, Fage, Orsillo and Murphy, we can arrive at Wells Fargo Arena expecting our teams to win. Now, both ASU squads are on national television regularly and are consistently in the Pac-10 title hunt.

There are many people to thank for the current state of the ASU basketball programs and these seniors are near the top of the list.

As students, fans and lovers of all things Arizona State, we should congregate at Wells Fargo Arena this weekend to thank some of our seniors for everything they’ve done.

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