Entering last fall, there was no shortage of question marks surrounding the Arizona State football and basketball teams. Both programs were reeling from last year’s disappointing campaigns and were in dire need for infusion of new talent.
Running back Marion Grice and point guard Jahii Carson were just what the doctor had ordered in Tempe.
One of the most memorable quotes in the critically acclaimed movie The Shawshank Redemption was uttered by actor Morgan Freeman who said: “Hope is a dangerous thing.”
But hope is exactly what first year players such as Grice and Carson provided with their accomplishments prior to even donning the maroon and gold for the very first time.
And when 2012 came to a close, even just a brief glance at their respective stat sheets does anything but squelch the anticipation for this tandem’s exploits in 2013, as their respective teams look to build on the momentum of the last few months.
Marion Grice led ASU in rushing with 679 yards and 11 touchdowns despite having only the third highest number of carries on the team and starting in none of the team’s 13 contests. He also led all receivers with eight touchdowns and was second in receiving yards with 425.
Jahii Carson leads ASU with 17.7 points scored per game as well as 5.7 assists recorded per contest. His 46.9 percent shooting from the field is second best on his squad while his 71.4 percent shooting from the free throw line paces ASU.
Whether it’s making their marks on ASU’s record books (Grice) or gaining national recognition (Carson), both players have quickly made a name for themselves in the later part of 2012.
And what makes their achievements even that more remarkable is that their path to becoming a Sun Devil was anything but a smooth journey. Grice had to extend his course work into late July arriving in Tempe barely a week prior to the beginning of fall camp while missing the lion’s share of the team’s summer workouts.
Carson’s academic struggles ruled him academically ineligible for the 2011-12 season as he was forced to sit out that entire year, undoubtedly a tough pill to swallow for the local point guard and his family and friends who were yearning to see him perform for the hometown school.
Judging by their performance in 2012, the adversity both have gone through seems now like a distant and insignificant memory.
Grice also had to endure a late season tragedy when his brother, Joshua Wood, was shot and killed during a robbery of a pair of Air Jordan sneakers Wood purchased. The running back spent four days at his Houston home and returned to his team on Christmas Day. Last Saturday Grice was named the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl’s Offensive Most Valuable Player as he rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
ASU football finished the year at 8-5, just the fourth time since the turn of the century that a Sun Devil team ended the season with eight or more wins and their three-game winning streak to end the year was a feat that was last accomplished only in 1978.
ASU basketball enters Pac-12 play this week with an 11-2 record, already eclipsing the win total from the previous season and appearing as a team that could (and perhaps should) finish higher than the 10th place finish they achieved for the past two campaigns.
Every new calendar year brings a healthy (and perhaps at times excess) dose of optimism. Whether it’s sports or any other aspect of life, a fresh beginning is what most of us see as the groundwork for a prosperous 12 months to come. And in many cases some would love to forget some of the events that have transpired in the past 12 months so we can go ahead and be truly hopeful for what the future holds.
Yet, in the case of Marion Grice and Jahii Carson, the Sun Devil nation is more than happy to relish in the memories of their 2012 performances. It’s only fitting that their jersey number correlates with their status of being the statistical leaders of their respective teams.
Is hope a dangerous thing? Cynics among us would tend to agree with that adage.
However, after witnessing the performances of Grice and Carson in 2012 many Arizona State fans will gladly take that leap of faith in 2013 and believe that the rest of the Sun Devil football and basketball squads will follow the lead of the players bearing that number one on their jersey.