No. 20 ASU, Arizona ready for Desert Classic Print
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Thursday, 11 December 2008 14:21
NCAAB Headline News


 PHOENIX (AP) -Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell had an idea.
His Wildcats are scheduled to meet fourth-ranked Gonzaga in the second half of a U.S. Airways Center doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. In the opener, No. 20 Arizona plays IUPUI.
Pennell sent a text message to a friend in ASU's athletic department, asking him to run something by Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek.
``I said, 'Go ask Herb if he would switch opponents with us,''' Pennell said with a chuckle.
Sendek wasn't biting on Pennell's tongue-in-cheek suggestion.
``Right now, we can't control the ranking,'' Sendek said. ``We can't control our schedule. So it would be a colossal act of foolishness to spend any time thinking about that right now.''
The rare ASU-Arizona doubleheader will offer different challenges for the Sun Devils and Wildcats as they ramp up for the opening of the Pac-10 season.
zaga, UNLV and No. 25 Kansas, who had a combined 34-6 record through Wednesday.
That schedule seems a bit strenuous for a team that lacks both depth and experience, but Pennell said he thinks it will help the Wildcats grow.
``It's another measuring mark,'' Pennell told reporters in Tucson. ``If you have to play UCLA in our league, and Arizona State's hot now too - well, those are Top 25 teams. You need to play against the teams like Gonzaga and figure out, are you even in the ballpark with these guys?''
The Wildcats (6-2) are coming off a 69-56 victory over San Diego State on Wednesday night at McKale Center - the same team that led Arizona State 15-2 before falling to the Sun Devils 59-52 in San Diego on Nov. 18.
M. In both games, late lapses cost the Wildcats.
``I learned that we're good enough to play with these teams,'' Pennell said. ``And I think that if we can just be a little bit more disciplined that we should be able to win some of these games.''
It may take more than discipline to knock off Gonzaga (7-0), which routed Washington State 74-52 in Pullman on Wednesday night, the most lopsided loss in coach Tony Bennett's three seasons in the Palouse.
NCAA's West Regional, which will be staged at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in March.
``We've got our work cut out for us,'' Pennell said. ``We don't have any gimmes left, there's no question about that.''
Arizona State (7-1) still has a few gimmes, including Idaho State (2-6) and Central Connecticut State (4-4); ASU's December opponents had a combined 27-22 record heading into Thursday's action.
Sendek tried to upgrade ASU's nonconference schedule this year, but the Sun Devils have yet to play a ranked team. ASU's lone defeat came on a neutral floor against Baylor, which has since climbed into the Top 25.
The Sun Devils agreed to participate in the rare double-dip with Arizona because, Sendek said, ``the thinking for the game at U.S. Airways Center was that that kind of showcase would be a good thing for basketball, college basketball beyond that, in the (Phoenix metropolitan area).''
IUPUI, coached by former Sendek assistant Ron Hunter, won a school-record 26 games last season. But the Jaguars (5-3) have yet to find a replacement for George Hill, drafted in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs last summer. In its lone game against a team from a power conference, IUPUI lost by three at Indiana on Nov. 18.
d by playing ASU in an NBA arena.
``All you have to do is watch the ticker every night go by, and you see games that result in gasping upsets or close calls,'' Sendek said. ``There's a lot of good teams in college basketball, and the nature of our sport leads to this unexpectedness.''
 

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