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ESPN’s Jay Bilas: Arizona State keeping Herb Sendek would have been ‘biggest home run’

LISTEN: Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst

The search is on for a new men’s basketball coach at Arizona State University.

Tuesday, vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson met with Herb Sendek and the two sides parted ways after nine seasons.

Sendek went 159-137 during his tenure, taking the Sun Devils to two NCAA Tournaments. ASU had been to the “Big Dance” only three times in the 25 seasons prior to his arrival.

Many view the change as a positive. Anderson himself cited a desire to upgrade the program when he met with the media Tuesday afternoon.

“We want to have our fan base energized and passionate and fired up about men’s basketball, and we didn’t see that, I didn’t see that occurring,” he said.

However, one prominent voice in college basketball believes the ASU administration dropped the ball on this decision.

“The biggest home run would have been to keep Herb Sendek,” Jay Bilas told Burns and Gambo Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I think Herb was a terrific coach. I think at Arizona State, if you have somebody that doesn’t hang as many Final Four banners as they already had hanging up there, then that’s fine to fire him.

“But they didn’t have any. So until the institution makes a commitment to basketball, they’re going to keep getting the same results no matter who they hire.”

Anderson has denied the rumors that he has reached out to Duke assistant and former VCU and Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel. The athletic director has repeatedly said the search will be a thorough one.

But Bilas believes that if Capel is indeed the candidate ASU settles on, that’s a step in the right direction.

“I think Jeff is an outstanding coach and he’s proven that,” he said. “He built the VCU program to where Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart could take it even further. Kind of like Dan Monson and Gonzaga, really.

“I thought he did a great job at Oklahoma. He’s the guy that recruited Blake Griffin to Oklahoma, but circumstances there led to his departure.”

Capel had winning records in all four of his seasons at VCU and then moved on to Oklahoma in 2006. He led the Sooners to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the Elite 8 in 2009.

“He’s terrific,” Bilas said. “He’s a great, young coach and a terrific teacher and a great guy, so I think anybody that gets the chance to get him is getting a great guy and a great coach.”

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