ASU Basketball Media Day-Kyle Cain
5 Total Updates since October 12, 2011
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Herb Sendek's tenure at Arizona State has been one filled with many highs and lows.
Under his leadership, ASU made the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2008-2009. The program earned a high seed in the NIT tournament in 2007-2008 and 2009-2010, though the team does not have much to show for it. And perhaps his Sendek's greatest accomplishment was sweeping the Arizona Wildcats in '08.
There have been faults as well. His first season with the program saw the Sun Devils go 2-16 in Pac-10 play. Last year, with multiple starters returning and a run at a conference championship expected by some, the team fell flat on its face and finished in last place once again.
Now, in 2011, the team is projected for the bottom half of the conference and their best incoming player, point guard Jahii Carson, may not be cleared for the regular season.
Is Herb Sendek on the hot seat? Could this really be his final season in Tempe? Doug Gottlieb of ESPN.com thinks it could happen:
ASU had a good three-year run of postseason tournaments going before last season. Jahii Cason is ASU's top recruit, but he has yet to be cleared to play. If he is not, ASU might be the worst team in the Pac-12.
Even with Cason, the Sun Devils have limitations, as much of their offense requires better shooters than they have. Don't get me wrong: Sendek has done a tremendous job at times with subpar talent, even at Arizona State. Turning Eric Boateng into a solid low-post player may be his best work ever, but the bottom has fallen out and Sendek has quietly looked at other jobs the past two offseasons. Meanwhile, his protege Sean Miller is crushing it in recruiting in Tucson, and with that in mind it seems like the end is near for Sendek in Tempe.
While no one in Tempe should realistically expect the Sun Devils to compete yearly with their in-state rivals in Tucson, the fan base certainly expects the program to be competitive within the conference. The attendance at Wells Fargo Arena was miserable last season and the athletic department certainly notices something like that. If Carson cannot play, it could be an ugly season for the program.
All of this being said, Sendek has done a lot for this program and deserves a second chance.
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
In the waning minutes of last Saturday's scrimmage at Wells Fargo Arena, head coach Herb Sendek debuted a front court that instantly caught fans attention: the 7'0" Ruslan Pateev next to the 7'2" Jordan Bachynski. And while they might not quite be a Ralph Sampson/Hakeem Olajuwon-like duo, it's a pairing that ASU fans might be seeing a lot of this upcoming season.
"We have been practicing that a little in the offseason," Bachynski said. "One of us will have a mismatch so that's really something we can exploit."
Yes, that's right. Most teams don't have the luxury of one seven-footer. The Sun Devils will be featuring two on the court at times in the upcoming months.With Head Coach Herb Sendek looking to not be "self-limiting" having only nine scholarship players on his roster, experiments like this one will be witnessed all season. And Sendek had one reassurance for those worried about the offense being a little less mobile with the two centers on the court: "Both of [these] guys can move pretty well."
In fact, Bachynski, sophomore, has looked to improve his offensive repertoire by adding a mid-range jumper to his game, which he featured with impressive results in the most recent scrimmage.
"I have been looking to extend my range a little," Bachynski said. "Last year, I [relied on] basically mostly dunks. I want to be able to not only have the threat of the dunk but also the outside shot."
After averaging 2.8 points a game in 24 appearance last year, the towering southpaw has developed a friendly competition with fellow big man Pateev, junior, to challenge each other to improve on both ends of the court.
"Me and [Pateev] have a big rivalry in practice," Bachynski joked. "We're constantly pushing each other and making each other better."
While Sendek and Sun Devil fans everywhere hope for a breakthrough season from Bachynski or Pateev after finishing 300th nationally in rebounds (32 pg) and 209th in field goal percentage (43%) they can take comfort in one fact: Bachynski had his best games against Pac-12 opponents. The player affectionately nicknamed "the Stormin' Mormon" by fans had a season high seven points against UCLA and Washington, wrangled in a season-high six boards against Oregon and Washington State, then swatted four shots against in-state rival Arizona in one of his best games of the year.
Those are the stats you look for after finishing last in the Pac-10 last season (4-14). For now though, these two behemoths are looking to improve together and build that chemistry that's desperately needed to get out of the conference's cellar.
"Rus and I [are connecting] a lot better," Bachynski said. "We're able to work off each other's strengths."
over 1 year ago Update 0 comments
What's the remedy to an offense that ranked 293rd in points per game in 2010? For head coach Herb Sendek and the Arizona State men's basketball team, it's upping the tempo and opening up the offense.
"We are really looking to strike in transition when we can," Sendek said. "[Our players] have as much freedom to play as anyone could possibly have."
And that freedom translated into points, 55-50 to be exact in only 24 minutes of play in Saturday's scrimmage. But you can't score that many points without some criticism falling upon the shoulders of the defense.
"When you score [in a scrimmage] it's either because your offense was good or your defense was bad," Sendek said. "I thought our defense wasn't as good as it needs to be. It certainly [didn't] reflect the effort and time we've put in on it so far."
While the coach may not be entirely satisfied with the results, the players are already buying into the renovated fast-paced, improvise-on-the-fly offense. And one of the big reasons behind their endorsement of the run and gun system is their confidence in the new conductor, junior point guard Chris Colvin.
Colvin, a 6'2" transfer from Palm State College in southern Florida, has stepped up in the absence of freshman Jahii Carson while he tries to get his academic eligibility situation figured out and has taken the reigns of the offense with assertion. Showing both excellent court vision and on-the-ball defending skills in the scrimmage, players and coaches alike have taken notice.
"It's tough coming in and not knowing how guys play and what coach expects of him [but] he's doing a great job carrying the load so far," said junior swing man Trent Lockett.
"He's an unselfish player," said Sendek about Colvin. "He seems to be just as content making the pass as taking the shot. In fact, I encouraged him in practice this week, 'hey, if you're open, let it rip.' But he's unselfish, which you ideally want to have in a point guard."
Although Sendek is looking for unselfishness in his point guard, he isn't looking for Colvin to replace recently graduated senior Ty Abbott but rather be more of a straight point guard. However, Sendek is hoping that sophomore guard Chanse Creekmur can elevate his game and be the next outside sharpshooter for the Devils with the departure of senior Richards Kuksiks. And Creekmur did almost everything he could in Saturday's scrimmage to overtake that role, draining multiple shots from downtown with relative ease.
"He really shot the ball well today," Sendek said. "He's a terrific shooter."
Still, while there are players stepping up to replace their production, there still seems to be a leadership void lingering after the graduation of ASU's three seniors last year (Abbott, Kuksiks, and Jamelle McMillan) leaving the roster bare of fourth year players. In fact, sophomore guard Keala King specifically singled out McMillan's exit as the one that will affect him the most.
"[Jamelle] was a guy that guided me through the whole year last [season]," King said. "He was my mentor when I was down on myself."
King went on to vocalize how fortunate he was to have McMillan to learn from for a year but now he is ready to take the next step. Explaining that "the scouting report knows I can't really shoot", McMillan went out of his way to make 300 shots from the free throw line during each of his summer practices sessions.
In Saturday's scrimmage, he didn't showcase his improved jumper but rather his aggressive slashing skills that made him the 26th best prospect coming out of high school in 2010, according to Rivals.com. He also seemed more comfortable making moves with the ball out of his hands. That, doubled with his position-flexibility, makes him such an exciting weapon for Sendek to toy with.
"[King] can play both guard positions," Sendek said. "He can play the wing, he can play up top; [Chris Colvin] and Keala can play together as well; he's a very versatile player."
Versatility is the exact trait Sendek is looking for in his players this season. With only nine scholarship athletes on his roster, Sendek knows he must be crafty if this team is to be successful.
"[We try to] not limit ourselves," Sendek said. "Basically [we want to] be able to play almost any combination of players."
And that's exactly what Sendek did Saturday. Sendek began the day with Colvin and King at guard, Carrick Felix and Lockett manning the forwards and the undersized Kyle Cain at center. From there, Sendek did everything you could possibly imagine, sliding Cain to power forward when junior center Ruslan Pateev moved into the lineup, allowing King and Lockett to run point on a whim and even running his own version of the twin towers with a front court comprised of the 7'0" Pateev with 7'2" sophomore Jordan Bachynski.
Still, Sendek knows he must have some form of stability with a plethora of potential lineups operating in a offense that allows the players free reign.
"I like our framework but it's a framework that really allows them tremendous freedom," Sendek said. "[We] have to have some semblance of framework or you become a gym class."
But when you're coming off a 12-19 season in which you finished last in the Pac-10, what do you have to lose?
Other notes on the scrimmage
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Arizona State mens' basketball kicks off the season with an open scrimmage Saturday, October 22nd.