I do not blame Arizona State for wanting to do better. I question whether they can. The firing of men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek is not really a surprise. I didn’t think he should have been canned, but I understand it. Sendek actually did a good job this year. He beat NCAA Tournament teams Harvard, UCLA and Arizona and got a win against defending NCAA Champion UConn. He replaced three of his top players and incorporated seven new players on this year’s squad. And he won 18 games. I thought he did some of his best coaching this season.
But Sendek, like many before him, found it hard to recruit top talent to Tempe. He did bring in James Harden, who went 5-0 vs. that school down south, and he did go 9-10 overall vs Arizona. He made two NCAA Tournaments in nine years, which is not bad considering that in the previous 25 years before Herb they made it three times.
You can make the argument the program got stale under Herb or maybe that it has always been stale. The million dollar question now is can ASU do better than Herb Sendek?
ASU will never compete with Arizona. But that shouldn’t be their goal, the Wildcats have one of the top 7 programs in the country. ASU needs to worry about themselves, not Arizona. The goal is simple. Be relevant. Matter. Be competitive in recruiting. Draw more fans to the arena. Win more games.
ASU needs to shoot to be in the upper third of the Pac-12, not in the middle. If the Sun Devils can be fourth they are relevant. They can go to the NCAA Tournament, maybe make some Sweet 16s.
But that is a Big If. Sendek gave it his best shot and although he had some success, in the end it wasn’t good enough to get a 10th season in Tempe. Now it’s the next coach up. Wish him luck. He will need it because being the head coach of the Sun Devils in men’s basketball is no easy task.