There often comes a point in sports where a coach has
taken a team as far as he can.
After five years at the helm of the Arizona State Sun
Devils, Herb Sendek has gotten to that point.
Now, before you accuse me of only saying this because I’m
a University of Arizona Wildcats fan, let me say that my
not being a fan of the Devils allows me to see the simple
truth: as long as Sendek remains the head coach, ASU will
remain a mediocre-at-best program.
Granted, there is nothing I’d enjoy more than seeing the
maroon and gold flounder at the bottom of the Pac-10,
especially while my Cats will be taking up permanent
residence near the top. However, for the sake of the
rivalry, ASU needs to improve.
Speaking of the rivalry, the home crowd was pretty sad
Sunday. I get that nobody really expected ASU to win but
come on, at least show a little pride. Too many people
were either dressed as empty seats or Wildcats fans, and a
continuous stream of yellow started flowing towards the
exits with about 8 minutes remaining. And, for the “fans”
that did stick around, allowing yourselves to be out-chanted by the visitors
was, well, sad. But not as sad as
the product on the court, and that’s why it’s time to
consider parting ways with Sendek.
This is not to say Sendek is a bad coach – far from it. I
mean, anybody who can make ASU a respectable basketball
program has to have a decent amount of ability. But by the
time this season comes to a merciful end for his team the
Devils will finish out of the NCAA Tournament for the
fourth time in five seasons under the former NC State
coach. That should be unacceptable.
Sure, you might argue they deserved a tournament berth in
2008 and 2010, but they didn’t get in, and weak scheduling
combined with a lack of signature wins can be blamed.
Furthermore, the one time they did make it with NBA
Lottery pick James Harden, Sendek’s squad won all of one
game. Not exactly impressive.
Even more problematic is how Sendek is continually going
to lose the recruiting battles. Unless he can keep adding
to his coaching staff, he will have to find a way to outdo
the likes of Sean Miller, Lorenzo Romar, Ben Howland and
Mike Montgomery. If you were a top-flight high school kid,
who would you want to play for?
Keep in mind; it took Miller all of one season to surpass
his in-state rival. With a top-10 class coming in next
year things are poised to go back to the good old
days, when Lute would just point to the scoreboard as his
team was racking up another victory.
Nobody should have expected much of ASU hoops this year
and yet the team is finding a way to disappoint. If NCAA
basketball was anything like the English Premier League,
Arizona State would find itself playing in the Big Sky
Conference next season. At 9-15 overall with a 1-10
conference record, the Sun Devils are in the midst of
their second embarrassingly awful season in Sendek’s five
tries. Is that called progression? Hardly. It appears Herb
Sendek has taken the Sun Devils as far up the mountain as
he can. Unfortunately for them they are closer to the base
than the top.