TEMPE – Arizona State senior forward Jeff Pendergraph leaves 10 minutes early for class every day.
The reason? He needs to allow time for the students and faculty members who want to slap him on the back and tell him how much they’re looking forward to the upcoming season.
This is a change from Pendergraph’s freshman year, when basketball players enjoyed a certain degree of anonymity on this sun-splashed campus.
“Walking around campus is definitely more of an experience than it was before,” Pendergraph said at the team’s annual media day on Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.
“People want to tell me how excited they are about the upcoming season, and how happy they are that me and James (Harden) stayed, and they can’t wait and they bought season tickets, and they’re ready for basketball to start now, and how is the team looking . . . ”
With Harden and Pendergraph returning, the Sun Devils are popping up in preseason rankings. (The Associated Press preseason Top 25 has not been released.)
The rankings won’t mean much when the Sun Devils open the season on Nov. 14 against Mississippi Valley State – an NCAA Tournament team last spring, unlike ASU. But they are a sign of growing respect for the program in coach Herb Sendek’s third year.
The team went 21-13 last season.
Nadal, Federer win
MADRID, Spain – Former champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer powered into the Madrid Masters quarterfinals while title hopeful Novak Djokovic bowed out to Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) Thursday.
Top-ranked Nadal moved closer to clinching the season-ending No. 1 ranking by beating Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2.
Second-ranked Federer eased past Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1.