ASU Sun Devil basketball: Team aims to win, but also to discover their identity

PHOENIX - Less than a week into the season and we know what the jerseys say – ASU on the front with various players names listed on the back. But what does that tell us about the Devils' identity as a team?  

Not much. Not yet. And we're just relaying what the head coach had to say prior to ASU debuting with a dominating win before hosting Miami of Ohio on Tuesday night.

"Let's establish what our identity is," said ASU head coach Herb Sendek, who had never faced his former Miami team before Tuesday night. "What kind of team are we?"

That's the challenge that Sendek says he had issued to his promising group early in the college basketball season. 

"It can't just be because we choose to call ourselves something or the coach says we're supposed to be this," Sendek continued. "Who are we?  What are we going to hang our hat on (this season)?"

No question, it's not yet known what sort of style the Devils will adopt. It's not easy to discern how ASU will prove most effective and when it might occur. But when it comes to "who" exactly will be starring this season – that's easy. 

Jahii Carson returned to Tempe to reach the NCAA Tourney, not to mention the first round of the NBA Draft.  In fact, the point guard who shared Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors has already made it known that this will be his last season in his home state of Arizona – unless he's drafted by the Suns, of course.

"I definitely have a lot of emotion as far as excitement because these guys are great guys, and I just want to go out and leave a mark at ASU," Carson said.

In the post, bruising 7-footer Jordan Bachynski is more than capable of leaving a mark. In the opener, the center scored 12 points and matched a career high with 15 rebounds.

Thing is, the Sun Devils are also trying to incorporate eight newcomers, led by transfer Jermaine Marshall. 

Penn State's second-leading scorer last season, the athletic swing man is expected to give ASU more veteran leadership while taking some of the perimeter scoring pressure off Carson.

Trying to build off a 22-win season, the Devils are looking to take that next step and make sure the season ends with March Madness. 

"Guys, we're all in," Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said after the opening win. "I just loved our team's togetherness and attitude this evening."

There you go, maybe that's the start of the Devils developing an identity right away, just like Sendek hoped.

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