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ASU coach Sendek: There’s positive mojo with the Sun Devils

LISTEN: Herb Sendek, ASU basketball coach

Arizona State basketball is not exactly familiar with success.

Sure there have been NCAA Tournament appearances, but for the most part, sustained excellence just hasn’t happened.

One of the perceived problems is that even when a player of a Jahii Carson is on board, the Devils are still unable to do much on the national scene, and that could hurt when it comes to trying to recruit more elite talent.

“I don’t think we have to explain it at all; I think people love our style of play, they recognize the momentum we have in our program,” Sendek told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “They see guys coming here like James Harden and launching off into a great NBA career.

“Every one of our kids graduates. We have high character guys.”

Sendek, who just finished his eighth season in Tempe, feels that just because the big-time success has not happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen, even while some people feel like there is too much working against ASU — including a national power just 110 miles to the south — for the school to ever be more than it is.

But then again, just because the Devils haven’t had that kind of success does not mean they haven’t had any to speak of.

“Can we be better? Absolutely. Can we win more? Undoubtedly,” he said. “But given where we started from, when you look at the history, there’s been a lot of good.

“Has it been a geometric progression? No. But we’ve been to a couple of NCAA Tournaments and the other years that we haven’t, we’ve narrowly missed it; we’ve been on the doorstep.”

In the coach’s eight seasons with the school, ASU has one more than 20 games five times. The other seasons had win totals of eight, 12 and 10.

But the Devils won 21 games in each of the last two campaigns, and the overall body of work is something Sendek believes says something about what is happening with the program.

“I think it’s a string of years that has really showed tremendous progress and accomplishment,” he said.

But there is some concern the string is about to come to an end.

The Sun Devils are expected to lose their top four scorers from the season, with Jermaine Marshall, Shaquielle McKissic and Jordan Bachynski set to graduate and Carson planning on pursuing an NBA career.

And of the players coming back, only Jonathan Gilling averaged more than 14 minutes per game.

“We’re going to have an influx of newcomers, we’re going to have a returning group of guys that can help us as well,” Sendek said. “We’ll see. We have a lot of work to do.”

The coach said it would be easy to make predictions of whether the team will be better or worse next season, but that won’t be determined until the games are played.

“But I don’t think there’s any question that our program has some real positive mojo at a number of levels right now.”