The Arizona State men’s basketball squad began its slate of Pac-12 games 0-4, but the team regrouped to finish 9-9 in conference.
Despite stronger play to close out the regular season, Herb Sendek’s group wasn’t able to make any noise in last week’s Pac-12 Tournament, falling 67-64 to the lowly USC Trojans in the opening round.
The loss was disappointing, according to ASU’s Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson, who spoke with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM‘s Bickley and Marotta on Wednesday.
“That loss against USC, let’s be candid about it, it was really painful for a lot of folks,” Anderson said.
The athletic director went on to talk, in general, about Sendek’s future with the program.
“We have heard from a lot of folks who are very disgruntled with where the program is,” he said. “So at the end of the day, you’ve got to evaluate the program and do what’s in the best interest of Sun Devil athletics. And we will do that, but the season’s not over. We’re in the NIT; we play (Wednesday) at Connecticut. Hopefully, we have a good showing. And then, we’ll come back and do an evaluation, as we are obligated, candidly, to do.”
Sendek is nearing the end of his ninth season at the helm of the men’s team. Anderson said the call is ultimately his on whether the coach will return to the program next season.
“How we do the process is really something we should maintain in terms of being private,” Anderson said. “But at the end of day, I’ve got to make the decision. That’s why I’m here. That’s why President (Michael) Crow brought me here.
“The athletic director has to be able to make choices that he thinks (are) in the best long-term interests of the institution and our programs, and so that will be me.”
Anderson added that Sendek — and the team’s season — won’t be judged solely on the disappointing result against USC (12-20, 3-15 Pac-12).
“You have to take an objective view of the entire season from start to finish, in terms of the goals you set for yourselves, the metrics, the accountability,” the AD said. “So it’s not one game. It’s not the [Feb. 7] win against Arizona; it’s not the [Feb. 18] win against UCLA that determines the way forward. It’s the complete accumulation of things that you evaluate. And you do it objectively (and) non-emotionally.”
Even though the group’s 2014-15 results fell in line with how the program generally performs, Anderson hinted that the status quo isn’t necessarily acceptable for the team anymore.
“Most importantly, you try to think of what’s in the best interest going forward, because the past doesn’t do us any good,” he said. “If you’re trying to be elite and best in class, then you have to look forward aggressively all the time about how do you continue to get better. So as part of that evaluation, I will look at all of the things that happened this season, and then make a determination of the best way forward.”
Anderson also said part of changing the perception of the program will entail successfully landing recruits from the talented crop of players currently on Arizona high school teams.
“You don’t want your best players — men, women — to be going to other institutions, and certainly not going out of state,” he said. “So it’s about having the best players from your state competing and going to school academically at your institution — in this case, ASU. Because then that’s more love and affection and engagement for the whole program from folks in Arizona; that’s first and foremost.
“And then, if you’re able to keep them from your own backyard, then people are more convinced that you’re a worthy place to come if they’re not from you’re backyard; it all goes together.”