TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -Derek Glasser's arrival at Arizona State in the summer of 2006 prompted more relief than excitement from coach Herb Sendek.
Sendek was searching for a point guard to replace Kevin Kruger, who had abruptly transferred to UNLV to play for his father, Lon Kruger. Suddenly Glasser, who had been planning to walk on at Southern California, became Sendek's best option - his only option, really.
``I watched him a little bit on film, but I didn't have a lot to go on,'' Sendek said Tuesday. ``It was either him or nothing.''
Glasser's freshman year was a struggle. The Sun Devils went 8-22 and lost a school-record 15 straight games. While no one blamed the young point guard, it was obvious that the Sun Devils needed an upgrade at that critical position.
``I can remember his freshman year, being at Xavier, and I didn't know if we were going to, a few times, get the ball up the court,'' Sendek said.
The upgrade came soon enough, and Sendek didn't have to sign a replacement.
190-pound Glasser, now a junior, has developed into a reliable point guard who quietly plugs away in the shadow of star guard James Harden, his former teammate at Artesia High School in Lakewood, Calif.
The best thing about Glasser is what he doesn't do: turn the ball over.
Glasser is second in the Pac-10 in assist-to-turnover ratio, with 2.1 assists to every turnover. UCLA star Darren Collison, widely viewed as one of the nation's top point guards, leads with a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
``His improvement has been staggering,'' Sendek said of Glasser. ``He's gotten better in every way.''
The 18th-ranked Sun Devils (18-5, 7-4 Pac-10) hope Glasser is at his best on Thursday night, when they host 11th-ranked UCLA (19-4, 8-2).
Glasser is returning from a rough two weeks. He suffered a concussion in a home loss to Washington on Jan. 31. Last week at Oregon, Glasser ran into a pick and ended up sprawled on the court for several minutes.
``I couldn't open up my eyes for a second,'' Glasser said. ``They were worried about my neck, so they told me not to move. So that's what took so long on the court.''
Glasser missed Saturday's 49-38 victory at Oregon State as a precaution. But he said Tuesday he had not been diagnosed with a second concussion, and that he's feeling good after sitting out practice for several days.
``No headaches, no neck pain, no nothing,'' Glasser said.
Sun Devils likely will need Glasser against the Bruins on Thursday night. A victory would keep alive ASU's slim hopes of its first conference title since joining the Pac-10 in 1978-79.
Glasser played perhaps his finest game of the season the last time the two teams met. Against the tough, hounding Bruins defense, Glasser played 42 minutes and did not commit a turnover in the Sun Devils' 61-58 at UCLA on Jan. 17.
``I took care of the ball,'' Glasser said. ``I think I could have made a few shots.''
He did that four nights later at Arizona, calmly knocking down two clutch 3-pointers, then hitting 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 19 seconds to help ice a 53-47 victory.
During Glasser's rocky freshman year, it seemed inconceivable that the Sun Devils would challenge the mighty Bruins within two seasons. But Glasser said he had no self-doubts.
``No, because I knew James was coming the whole time,'' Glasser said with a smile. ``I knew we had one year to get through this, and then our man'll be here.''
In a way, Harden helped recruit Glasser to ASU. Even though Harden hadn't officially committed, he privately assured Glasser that he was headed for Tempe.
Harden said he was happy to reunite with his high school teammate.
``I could tell he was something special,'' Harden said. ``He wasn't a flashy point guard who could make all the great plays, but he was just solid. He's just a solid point guard who doesn't turn the ball over and can make the open shot. He can run a team, and he's doing a great job this year.''

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