If you look at a crystal ball in the hopes seeing the future of ASU basketball, it would be too cloudy for even the most experienced fortune teller to see. The recent past is something that most ASU fans would shield their eyes from or violently turn away.
ASU head coach Herb Sendek dismissed Keala King from the team earlier this week, while Kyle Cain and Chris Colvin needed to re-earn the opportunity to join the team. King's dismissal could be for a myriad of reasons and the why doesn't matter. The question is what's wrong with the Devils?
Every year we hear about special players who are coming into the program. Unfortunately, they are replacing the previous special players who are transferring. This is where a clever writer makes some type of funny analogy with a revolving door, but I hate those things so I don't want to give them free advertising.
Coach Sendek attempted to explain the high number of outbound plane tickets from the program in a recent press conference. He waxed poetic about Clemente staying a Pirate for his whole career yet Bonds left for a payday, despite Sendek himself leaving his two previous jobs. He complained how kids transfer elsewhere for playing time while ASU accepts two new transfers next year.
Coach Sendek made more points about the way our society has changed. The points were impossible to disagree with because society was less selfish in the past. The catch is it sounded like a man blaming the icebergs for a sinking ship.
The comments bothered me. Bob Knight and John Thompson didn't want to adjust to the changes in society and lived off their reputations as the NCAA tourney wins evaporated. Blaming the present and missing the past isn't solving the problem.
Coach Sendek is a man of great principle. He deserves so much respect for dismissing King in a down season. It's easy to think of a handful of college coaches who would compromise principle in order to keep talent. King led the team in almost every category, including complaints. When a player plays four years for Sendek they are a vastly improved player, but King didn't want work through the system. To go to one of Sendek's practices is to be amazed at his knowledge and memory, but King was more interested in games and shots than practice and drills.
Looking at the way the players played versus Southern Cal last week, the team clearly agreed with the decision to suspend King, Colvin and Cain for the weekend. There does appear to be a closer team on the floor playing without King.
Despite back-to-back putrid seasons, ASU has stud PG Jahii Carson practicing with the team every day. There are three area high school players all entering the program next year. Two sharpshooters are transferring into ASU and will be eligible for 2012-13 as well. Although I do believe there are better days coming for ASU basketball, how do I know another one of these future players won't be the next transfer? I could easily be hitching my wagon to a donkey that I'm too blind to see isn't a horse.
The ASU basketball job is one of the hardest jobs in college basketball--recruit in a state with a former national power down the street to play games in a dark, flavorless arena with a non-existent fan base. Coach Sendek's 20-win seasons must count for something. It's the right move to stick with Herb Sendek despite being the third best team in the state this year.
If you want to coach old school values, recruit old school kids. Don't blame society for losing basketball games. If society is changing and other coaches are winning without compromising principles then ASU can too.
Since I still believe in Coach Sendek, I'm going to chalk up his press conference to a guy having a bad day.