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January 11, 2012Arizona State basketball coach Herb Sendek said he couldn't have been more proud of his team's performance last week in Los Angeles, noting an improvement in camaraderie and communication on and off the court. During a week that consisted of suspensions that only allowed six scholarship athletes to make the road trip, leadership was found in ASU junior guard Trent Lockett.
Lockett was instrumental in helping ASU pick up its first Pac-12 win last Thursday against USC, 62-53. Sendek commended not only his ability to run the point guard position after a few days of practice, but his leadership role as well.
"I thought Trent did amazingly well," Sendek said. "That's never an easy position to transition to, let alone doing it on the fly in a couple days. I thought he did a terrific job, and it really shows his basketball IQ."
Lockett had 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists against USC, although he admitted he had too many turnovers in the win. According to Lockett, taking over the point guard position happened by default when Keala King, Chris Colvin and Kyle Cain were suspended from last weekend's road trip.
Although AAU ball was the last time he played at point guard, Lockett said he's comfortable running the position.
After last week's performance, Lockett will continue to carry much of the load at point guard for the time being, Sendek said. King was dismissed from the program upon the team's return to Tempe, which limits the coach's options at the position.
"I think he's going to probably play the majority of his minutes, or at least significant amount of his minutes, at that spot moving forward. Obviously there's certain things that could dictate change, but I think we have to be prepared at this point to have Trent at the point," Sendek said.
Sendek has asked much of Lockett since he's stepped on campus: from learning different positions (Lockett has played every position except center during his career at ASU) to becoming more of a leader, not to mention his skill development responsibilities.
Lockett acknowledged before the season that he had taken on more of a leadership role this season; however, Sendek said he took it to the next level last week. Lockett admitted he never used to be a vocal leader but is becoming more comfortable with his duties.
"My first instinct isn't to be a vocal leader, but I think I've improved as the season goes on," Lockett said.
Moving forward, the team will need Lockett to control the ball at point guard this week when ASU takes on Oregon and Oregon State, respectively. Oregon likes to frequently change up its defenses to pressure opposing teams and force turnovers.
"They're going to full court press, they're going to three-quarter court press, they're going to trap out of their half court defenses, they're going to play a hybrid underneath out-of-bound defense," Sendek said. "It's going to force our team to handle a different kind of pressure, and it's also going to require us to have recognition: What are they in, and how are we attacking?"
"That's never an easy decision when you're wrestling with a young man's future," Sendek said. "That's an agonizing process. But, being as close to the situation as I was on a daily basis, it became fairly clear to me that it would benefit our program, and just as importantly it would benefit Keala, to have a new beginning."
"I thought he had a terrific weekend in Los Angeles," Sendek said. "He made shots, threw some excellent passes. I think his defense has really taken a step in the right direction, and that probably more than anything else was holding him back in the beginning. But as he's learned more about how to play defense in our system, and he's gotten more comfortable, his talent is shining through."
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