In retrospect, perhaps the only thing worse than a 12-19 season was expecting much, much more.
The Arizona State Sun Devils had, for the first time since the Kennedy administration, strung together three seasons with 20 or more wins.
They'd lost six players after going 22-11 (12-6 Pac-10) during the 2009-10 season, but four were grumpy transfers who didn't play much.
Then, last season, ASU fell off a cliff it didn't see coming, going 4-14 in conference play.
"We learned," junior swingman Trent Lockett said, "that your expectations don't mean anything.
"I don't know if it affected us, but we obviously had high hopes. It did not translate. Expectations are basically worthless."
Especially individual ones.
"A lot of guys had their own expectations of themselves," sophomore center Jordan Bachynski said. "This year, we're more willing to swallow our own pride and work hard for the team, not just to further our own careers."
So the Sun Devils are keeping their anticipations and goals to themselves this season, which finds them already wrestling with eligibility issues regarding freshman point guard Jahii Carson.
The Mesa High School graduate is awaiting word from the NCAA clearinghouse about an online summer school course.
"We're trying to not set any goals," Lockett said. "All we can focus on is what we apply in practice."
The Sun Devils lost three steady players - guards Ty Abbott and Jamelle McMillan and forward Rihards Kuksiks - from last season's squad.
ASU will try to fill those points, and minutes, with growth from junior Carrick Felix and sophomore Keala King, among others. Speedy transfer Chris Colvin, a Chicagoan who attended Iowa State and then Palm Beach State, could play either guard position.
A sped-up offense will play to their strengths, though ASU coach Herb Sendek has spoken of pushing the ball in recent years, only to back off a bit.
"I don't blame Coach Sendek one bit for our lack of running," Lockett said. "It really falls on us as players. We're the ones that are supposed to run the floor.
"In recent years, it hasn't worked as well as we've liked. This year we've acquired a lot more slashers and penetrators, guys that can get to the basket."
Running comes down to confidence, said the 7-foot-2-inch Bachynski, who is fully recovered from offseason hernia surgery.
"In the preseason, we've been running a lot more than in the past," he said. "Getting the rebounds quickly, getting the point guard to catch the ball more up court, so we can push the ball up the floor."
Sendek said the Sun Devils' tempo has played "as fast as anybody's" at times in recent years, but opposing teams held the ball longer to wait and attack the ASU defense, skewing the statistics.
"We would really like to push the ball, and be an up-tempo team," he told reporters in Tempe. "I think we have some guys who are really comfortable doing that."
ASU hosts New Mexico, Nevada, Southern Miss and Fresno State this year, and will see Fairfield and either Dayton or Wake Forest at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
Like the Arizona Wildcats, they will skip home games against Stanford and Cal, and road games at Oregon and Oregon State.
Asked what a reasonable result would be this season, Bachynski said the Sun Devils simply are "going to work really hard this year, and I think we're going to win a lot of games."
Last season was not a lost one, Bachynski said, as much as an educational one.
"We definitely saw growth," he said. "When you go through the hard times, that's when true character comes out.
"We grew closer as a team. We understand each other. We understand where each other are coming from.
"Guys are willing to put it all on the line, and do whatever it takes."
ASU MEN'S SCHEDULE
5 at Grand Canyon (ex.) 6 p.m.
11 Montana State 2:30 p.m.
15 Pepperdine 6:30 p.m.
18 New Mexico 6:30 p.m.
24 Fairfield* 7:30 p.m.
25 Dayton/Wake Forest* TBA
27 TBD* TBA
3 at Tulsa 2 p.m.
7 Nevada 6:30 p.m.
10 N. Dakota State 2 p.m.
17 NAU 4 p.m.
19 S. Mississippi 8 p.m.
21 Fresno State TBA
31 at Arizona TBA
5 at Usc 8:30 p.m.
7 at Ucla 8:30 p.m.
12 Oregon 8:30 p.m.
14 Oregon State 6 p.m.
19 at Colorado 6:30 p.m.
21 at Utah TBA
26 Washington 6:30 p.m.
28 Washington State 3 p.m.
2 at Stanford TBA
4 at California 3 p.m.
9 Utah TBA
11 Colorado 4:30 p.m.
16 at Washington 9 p.m.
18 at Washington State 6 p.m.
23 UCLA TBA
25 USC 6 p.m.
4 Arizona 1:30 p.m.
* Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
Home games in ALL CAPS
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr.
0 Carrick Felix G 6-6 196 Jr.
1 Jahii Carson G 5-10 160 Fr.
2 Chris Colvin G 6-2 200 Jr.
5 Kyle Cain F 6-7 210 So.
10 Evan Gordon G 6-3 200 Jr.
13 J. Bachynski C 7-2 243 So.
15 C. Creekmur G-F 6-5 216 So.
21 Keala King G 6-4 201 So.
23 Ruslan Pateev C 7-0 249 Jr.
24 Trent Lockett G 6-4 210 Jr.
31 J. Gilling F 6-7 200 Fr.
33 D. Whitmore F 6-6 215 So.