|With Harden hurting, No. 24 Arizona State prepares for Washington|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 22 January 2008 13:45|
If Harden is out, the 24th-ranked Sun Devils would have to replace more than his team-leading 18.6 points per game. Coach Herb Sendek shook his head when asked what else ASU would miss with its versatile freshman guard on the bench.
``That's a complicated question,'' Sendek said Tuesday at his weekly campus news conference. ``If I broke that down, we would all miss lunch, and I wouldn't dare keep some of you away from lunch. Suffice it to say it most certainly causes us to reinvent ourselves to some measure because he's obviously a very integral part of what we do.''
The Sun Devils probably won't know if Harden will play until shortly before game time on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena.
In a strong year for freshmen in the Pac-10, the 6-foot-5 Harden has had perhaps the greatest impact of any rookie. He's a big reason the Sun Devils (14-3, 4-1 Pac-10) are in a three-way tie for first place after three weeks. A year ago, Arizona State went 2-16 and finished last in the Pac-10.
Along with leading the Sun Devils in scoring, Harden has the most steals (29) and minutes per game (32.9). He's shooting 55.4 percent from the field, 76.3 percent from the free-throw line and 43.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
Not bad for the Pac-10's youngest player. Harden turned 18 on Aug. 26.
``Obviously, we'd love for him to be there, but if he's not, we've got to go in there thinking that we can still win and be prepared for anything,'' point guard Derek Glasser said.
If Harden has to sit out, the timing couldn't be worse for the Sun Devils, who last week broke into The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 1995. Arizona State is 4-1 in the Pac-10 for the second time in 20 years.
After Washington, the Sun Devils play host to No. 6 Washington State on Saturday. Then they go to Los Angeles to face No. 8 UCLA and Southern California before taking on Arizona in Tucson. Their first home game after that stretch is against No. 20 Stanford.
``I think that we have prepared ourselves for the stretch that we're coming up to,'' Glasser said. ``The coaches are definitely going to stay on us.''
First up are the Huskies (11-7, 2-3), who are coming off a home sweep of the Oregon schools last weekend. The Huskies have won 10 straight over the Sun Devils, the longest active win streak by any Pac-10 team over a conference rival.