Lots of sports action in Tempe this weekend, which for our purposes starts tonight at the Wells Fargo Arena, where the ASU Sun Devils should be in a close, if not so artistic, battle against the equally lowly Utah Utes.
the game, which will not be televised (it's on KTAR620), marks the return of the Devils' best player, Trent Lockett, from a nasty ankle injury suffered almost a month ago.
With Lockett, ASU was a marginal-at-best team. Without him, well, they have had a difficult time reaching 50 points in a game, which has translated into loss after loss. (The Devils didn't hit 50 in two blow-out defeats in the Bay Area last weekend.)
It will be nice seeing the energetic Lockett back in uniform this weekend, though how effective he will be until he gets back into game shape remains to be seen.
The Devils are 7-16 overall and 3-8 in the not-so-hot Pac-12 Conference. Utah, a once-potent program which is in its first year in the Pac-12, is even worse, with a 5-18 record and just two league wins.
We suspect there may almost be as many people across Rural Road from the basketball arena this weekend watching the ASU women open their 2012 softball season in the Kajikawa Classic.
The tournament is an opportunity for a bunch of teams to play several games in a short period of time--there's no champion crowned or an elimination round at the end.
The Sun Devils are defending NCAA champions, and have pitching ace Dallas Escobedo (who once threw for Phoenix St. Mary's High) back in the circle as a sophomore. She was the best in the nation last year, and will carry her team a long way, even with several new players in the fold.
ASU is everyone's choice as the pre-season number one team in the nation, while rival Arizona is down at the bottom of the Top Ten. This is quite a change of fortune for the state schools, as the Wildcats dominated the Devils for the best part of two decades before head coach Clint Myers took over the helm in Tempe.
Myers and his friend Mike Candrea, the Hall of Fame coach from Tucson, are excellent teachers and motivators, but ASU has the better pitching staff at the moment, which usually makes for the better team in fastball.
The softball tournament starts tonight and ends on Sunday afternoon. All but one (UCLA) of the Pac-12's nine women's teams will be in Tempe this weekend.