Vitale & SI: ‘Give Sendek Some Time’

The broken record continues at State…

…that is Arizona State now!

Last week Sports Illustrated ran an (old favorite) article titled “Playing Catch-up” that focused on Herb Sendek’s current situation at Arizona State.

(Two Notes: (1) We know about the “Dare to Believe” video and we promise that we will have more on it in the future. (2) We know that Herb Sendek is no longer the coach at NC State and don’t need you to tell us about it. But Jim Valvano, Lou Holtz, Dick Sheridan, Mike O’Cain, Norm Chow, Buddy Green, Noel Mazzone, Jim Donnan, Norm Sloan, Everett Case, Buzz Peterson and Les Robinson don’t work at NC State any more either and we still highlight interesting news about them whenever it is relevant. So, please don’t waste time sharing with us what you think/feel about the ‘appropriateness’ of any of our entries. If you have questions about our policies you can click this link for general policies and click this link for Comments policy

We just can’t get over the ucanniness of the consistency of the horribly down-trodden positions that poor old Herb always seems to find himself as compared to other coaches. Equally consistent to how tough Herb always seems to have it is the fact that undefined future is always amazingly (and undefinably) bright!

“He’s trying to build a dynasty,” point guard Antwi Atuahene said.

^Wow! When did he start aiming for the moon? Good luck getting him to ever say that in public.

Sendek cancelled/postponed ASU’s media day this year because he was too busy for it; the need to visit a prospective recruit outweighed the free publicity and attention that media day would bring the program. To be honest – the odds are very high that – in the Phoenix market – the need to visit a prospective recruit really DID outweigh the amount of attention that Arizona State’s Basketball program would attract during media day.

Before Sendek’s ASU program lost its top two scorer’s from last year, we truly expected the Sun Devils to be vastly improved by Sendek’s style, discipline, scheduling strategy and x-and-o coaching ability. Jeff previously indicated on an ASU Message Board that he expected a nice overall record that would put the Sun Devils on the periphery of some people’s NCAA Bubble that would burst but ultimately earn teh Sun Devils an NIT bid. This would have been a huge stride for Sun Devils program (11-19 last year) and was an obvious indicator of our respect for Coach Sendek’s ability to make an immediate impact on a program’s existing talent.

But, the Sun Devils DID lose their two top scorers. And…isn’t the unexpected attrition of key players to unexpected situations a decade-long trend that plagued Sendek in Raleigh? Aren’t those “woe is me / hard luck” situations EXACTLY a part of the chasm that divided the “wait til next year” crowd that only once in a decade was able to rest easy in March for a guaranteed NCAA Tournament bid?

In other news items of note, Dick Vitale chimed in with some comments on Herb Sendek and Jeff Capel over at ESPN a few weeks ago.

You really have to love the consistency in Vitale’s perspective on Sendek – “Give him (undefined and unlimited) time!” and all will be well. Additionally, Vitale’s selectivity of what is important to highlight in Sendek’s record is also consistent.

Sendek led his NC State teams to five 20-win seasons in the past seven years.

Of course, we all remember that Sendek coached for ten years in Raleigh; not just the “past seven”. But, give Vitale credit for being consistent in harping on the total number of wins without mention of the embarassing out of conference schedules that Sendek used to build those 20-win seasons.

STOP IT!…we are going to stop it…we could get sucked into the same old pattern of defending NC State with facts and numbers for almost every comment that Vitale made…but, we are going to stop. Vitale states that he

firmly believe Sendek was never appreciated by the fans.

and nothing that we say is going to change that…even when Vitale’s OWN COMMENTS indicate that he thinks that NC State needed more energy on the sidelines and that he thinks that Sidney Lowe is a “flat-out winner”. He talks so much that he can’t keep his stories consitent.

“N.C. State has to look for someone who has charisma, someone who can get that energy back. [Former coach] Herb Sendek was a terrific X-and-O guy and did a good job doing what he was supposed to do, but State needs someone who can get that enthusiasm back to the way it used to be.”

In the long run, he will have his team prepared and ready to play. Sendek is a solid X and O guy, and it will take a little time to build the program.

Why are we even worrying about this? We all know that we don’t take advice from Dick!

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33 Responses to Vitale & SI: ‘Give Sendek Some Time’

  1. Pack Laddie 10/25/2006 at 2:38 PM #

    I am not going to get into the tired old debate, but the “attrition” of the two players at ASU was nothing like any of the departures here.

    One kid, by virtue of a new NCAA rule passed since Herb got to Tempe, was able to transfer and play for his Dad, without having to sit out a year. And if you ask why he didn’t go play for his Dad in the first place, his Dad (Lon Kruger) was coaching in the NBA at the time.

    Herb cut the other guy loose just because he had the minor issue of getting arrested with a loaded gun and cocaine in his car.

  2. GAWolf 10/25/2006 at 2:48 PM #

    I disagree with both of these lines:

    “In the long run, he will have his team prepared and ready to play. Sendek is a solid X and O guy.”

  3. Dan 10/25/2006 at 2:53 PM #

    Dick is one those guys that always tries to write the positive article when it comes to coaches. He is one of them. Like Logan now, these guys know what its like to have people jumping on them.

    No doubt he’ll do a ‘good job’ at ASU. Hell, getting the Sun Devils a 7-10 seed on a yearly basis is something. And I’m sure ASU fans will love that for a good while. Plus he gets the “building years” that the fans give a guy who has to take over a disaster.

  4. choppack1 10/25/2006 at 3:03 PM #

    I don’t – Herb will have his kids prepared to play (from a gameplanning standpoint) and he’s a solid x and o guy. You don’t work for Pitino w/out being like that.

    Where he struggled was inspiring confidence in his troops and in relating to these kids. Also, at times, he probably game-planned too much. I think that Herb would be a much better offensive or defensive coordinator in football – a game that allows for more planning and requires less improv.

  5. Jeff 10/25/2006 at 3:05 PM #

    I honestly think that Herb was set up to have an eye-opening year at ASU this year before the two kids left the program. I still think that he will do better than a lot of people expect.

    Think about the impact that he immediately had on our program when he got here – the discipline, defense, improved shot selection and teamwork took a group of guys who had been complete failures and immediately elevated them to (at least) respectability.

    Also, you have to give a lot credit to the WAY that we immediately played int hose early years. Pre-Herb, we were getting beaten by 20+ points on a regular basis (or at least it felt that way). Sendek’s coaching immediately improved the team to where we were barely losing a lot of very close games against top competition that we would have never competed in previously.

    It is very unfortunate that it looks like some of the potential “on the court momentum” at ASU will be muted this year because of the attrition issue. By the same token, the entry makes a valid point that the attrition issue is one that seems to really plague Sendek at every turn. After 11 years, it really doesn’t matter WHY or the causes of the abnormally large attrition, it just matters that it always happens.

    I also agree with the entry’s perspective that the old “wait til the future” mantra with Sendek’s programs gets very old. BUT, you have to keep a relative perspective on that. NC State’s program had most definitely stagnated under Sendek, who was given 10 years to elevate us to some form of national relevance consistent with our history (and never came).

    BUT, I am convinced that ASU is going to be a much better program in 4 to 5 years than they were before Sendek….so, I guess I AGREE with SI & Vitale’s perspective that things will get better at ASU. I just don’t agree that they have much credibility in the manner since they (and other members of the media) have been saying the exact same thing for the last decade.

    The good news for Sendek is that he has already elevated ASU’s recruiting BEFORE this season gets going. Funny how that is such a parallel to the way that this year is probably evolving for Sidney.

  6. GAWolf 10/25/2006 at 3:27 PM #

    Jeff… it’s hard to lose a game by 20 when neither team has much more than twice that.

    I say I disagree with our kids being ready to play simply because I watched way too many games where I felt we came out so flat we didn’t have a chance after the first 5 minutes. Perhaps that’s also contributable to the lack of improv you’ve mentioned. It’s the old “if we weren’t up by at least 10 with 2 minutes to go, we’re done for” attitude that I’m having a hard time shaking out of my head when I hear any mention of Herb…. snicker… building a dynasty.

    Jeff: Don’t forget…I am only talking about that initial impact in the first couple of years. We definitely were better with Sendek than before he got here.

  7. primacyone 10/25/2006 at 3:30 PM #

    In the words of my three year old . . .”I’m not going to do it. . . Huh”

    I’m not going to talk about Sendeck.

    When in that first ACC tournament final game against Dean Smith and down my nine with 46 seconds left he pulled the pack back into a zone and let UNC run out the clock. At the time I was very proud of the significant improvement he had made the first year. I was very proud of his character to pull the pack back out of respect for the Dean who was headed for a high NCAA seed while the win was not important to us.

    I remember Dean looking at Sendeck like he was crazy. I remember Dean looking at him like “that’s not how you win an ACC tournament . . . what the hell are you doing”.

    At the time I was very proud of Herb and had a lot of respect for him doing that. I even remember a pack fan being interviewed and saying “I have never been prouder”.

    Dean Smith is a smart man. He knew better than us. Herb pulling that team back and not playing the full 40 minutes was a sign of things to come. Looking back on it is amazing how that first tournament run paralleled his 10 years here. Herb could never finish and he never will.

    Okay. That’s the last time I’m going to talk about Sendeck. . .â€?I won’t do it again . . Huhâ€?

  8. BJD95 10/25/2006 at 3:35 PM #

    ^^^ I agree heartily with that post. There is alot to be said about being a “fit” at a certain place, and I think Sendek is a great fit for Arizona State. What was “not appreciated” here could be perfectly fine and dandy somewhere else. And it doesn’t make either group wrong in their assessment.

    Again, I wish the man the best of luck. Cocaine and a loaded gun. Wow. Something tells me that guy was going to be more comfortable in an uptempo system, anyway.

  9. legacyman 10/25/2006 at 4:07 PM #

    “…we were getting beaten by 20+ points on a regular basis (or at least it felt that way). ”

    We didn’t win enough large number of games with les as driver but we did go 5 and 7 against Dean Smith during that tenure and that offsets some of the bad games we had.

    I am excited to have Sidney home.

  10. redfred2 10/25/2006 at 4:14 PM #

    SFN: Let’s try to keep this entry away from the baiting. It is a good conversation right now. Thanks

  11. GAWolf 10/25/2006 at 4:16 PM #

    I sort of hate to hear that brought up, Legacy. It’s sort of like our current situation with Amato. We had with basketball and sometimes have with football problems that run much deeper than just losing more games than we win against Carolina. While that’s important to all Pack fans, it’s not determinative of whether we’ve had a successful season. MANY factors go into what is and what is not a successful season and thus a quality job by a coach.

  12. GAWolf 10/25/2006 at 4:26 PM #

    True Jeff, but remember those first few years with Sendek? We had more some-what-quality wins those first few years than we had experienced with Les more times than not because we lulled teams to sleep. To put it plainly, we brought many of the teams down to our level instead of rising to theirs.

    Come to think of it, I think that was ultimately Sendek’s ideology as a coach, and thus his downfall as in the ACC. ACC basketball stands for more than just “dragging the opposition down to your less-than-average level of play.” Sure it wins some games, but does it ultimately produce that which ACC basketball fans expect?

    I cannot disagree that life got better when he got here on paper, but his approach was simply not to “build a dynasty.” Unfortunately for the unsuspecting ASU fans, I don’t think it ever will be. He Joe Dirted the hell out of us in that he just “kept on keepin’ on.” He kept “chopping wood.” He never took that wood and built a damn thing. His immediate impact was apparent. It was what never happened thereafter that bothered me… and I think most Pack fans. He always was quick to point out the good (keepin’ on keepin’ on) and turned a blind eye or otherwise failed to take responsibility for the bad. We’re getting some of that same medicine from the football program right now. I’m starting to wonder if us Pack fans as a collective group are just a bunch of big old suckers for a sham.

  13. redfred2 10/25/2006 at 4:56 PM #


    I have posted a list of comparisons between the last decade of the BB program, and that of the football program now.

    I think the missing element is higher up than both former BB coach and the current FB coach in place. Some people, way up there, think we’re doing just fine and dandy as we are right now. Either that, or those same people just don’t put any value on the aspects of collegiate sports.

    I really believe there are blue bloods up there, who think that if they allow strong athletics at NCSU, that the familiar Moo’s of days gone by will come back to haunt them. Nowadays they are simply too far removed from those days, to have that crop up in their social circles.

    If there was ever a university that hides from every aspect of it’s heritage, it is NC State University.

    That may be a stretch, but it sure feels that way to me.

  14. #44 17 24 10/25/2006 at 6:05 PM #

    ASU will be a better team, in the very near future. Sendek is a good coach who can get a decent team into the tourney, but unfortunatly for them, thats about all they’ll do. Sendek woke NC State basketball from the dead, but he certainly didnt raise it. I give the ASU fans 4 years to recognize this fact, and then they’ll start on him just like our fans. Because I assure you, he wil not have a winning record against teams like Arizona, the team im sure that most people at ASU want to beat.

  15. bTHEredterror 10/25/2006 at 11:20 PM #

    “I was very proud of his character to pull the pack back out of respect for the Dean who was headed for a high NCAA seed while the win was not important to us. ” Uhhhh…..How was that game more important to THEM then us? They go to the dance no matter what, and we didn’t go at all. I agree with the sentiment you expressed regarding that game, I was proud of their performance, too. But at the same time, it was probably as heartbreaking as any loss Herb had since. If we had one ONE guy to come off the bench, could we have pulled it out in those last 5 minutes?

    You’re dead on, that tournament was a metaphor for Herb’s career. Just enough success to build your hopes up, only to crush them when it counts most.

  16. legacyman 10/26/2006 at 8:14 AM #

    I was only pointing out that Les didn’t do everything badly as some would imply.

    If we are not going to win an ACC title or an NCAA title under a given coach then we can salvage something form the season by beating our biggest rival. Les was able to do that better than most of our former coaches.

    I believe Sidney understands how most of us feel about that game each season.

    Now, a question for the folks, is there any way to edit my post after I have submitted it…like, to correct a misspelled word?

  17. Mr O 10/26/2006 at 9:14 AM #

    “The good news for Sendek is that he has already elevated ASU’s recruiting BEFORE this season gets going. Funny how that is such a parallel to the way that this year is probably evolving for Sidney.”

    Are you implying that Sidney is elevating our recruiting?

    If so, then I don’t think that is accurate to imply at this point. You could probably make a case that Sidney appears to be keeping our recruiting at a similar level to Herb Sendek.

    In terms of elevating programs to a top 15 type of status, I think a lot of it is luck. You have to have some breaks go your way and for Herb they just never seemed to go his way(the worst break being when JP made that ridiculous decision to go play ball in Europe instead of being a part of a team that could have challenged for a Final Four the next two years. We made the Sweet 16 the year after he left with an 11-5 ACC record and a #3 seed before losing to Vandy in the round of 32. The next year we made the Sweet 16. Who knows what could have happened with JP on those two teams? He had shown during the ACC tournament of his sophmore year that he was going to be as good a big man in the ACC if he had come back.

    The good thing for ASU is that Herb has tons of experience from his stint at NC State. Is it likely that he will elevate ASU into a top 15 program? No, it isn’t likely. But it is likely that he will increase the talent levels and provide the program a platform to become an NCAA tournament team consistently. After that, he will need some breaks…just like Sidney Lowe will need some breaks (like for example kids like Ced and Brackman playing basketball for NC State instead of making the decisions to focus on professional careers).

  18. Mr O 10/26/2006 at 9:37 AM #

    After reading about the Red/White game at Packpride:

    Sidney immediately getting our recruiting AT LEAST back to the level that Herb Sendek had it at is a GOOD thing in my mind. We had Tracy Smith, CJ Williams and a PG recruit from Indiana all at the game last night. We may not do much on the court this year, but it appears we are going to have a great first recruiting class to be talking about. So that comparisons can be made after it is compiled:

    Herb’s first full class:
    Archie Miller (top 40)
    Ron Kelley (top 75)
    Kenny Inge (top 75)
    C. Williams (top 125)
    R. Thomas (125+)
    Ron Anderson (125+)

    This was rated as a top 10 class by Prepstars who places a lot of weight on the quantity of recruits. Kelley was close to a top 50 guy IIRC. Overall, it probably wasn’t really a top 10 class because Archie was definitely overrated and the class lacked any real star at the ACC level. Though Miller, Inge and at times Kelley were all good players, they just weren’t All-ACC material.

  19. Girlfriend in a Coma 10/26/2006 at 9:49 AM #

    Shouldn’t it be a given that the head coach at an ACC school with 2 National Titles is a “solid Xs and Os guy”? The fact that people always seem compelled to point that out about Herb is really telling. Talk about damning with faint praise.

    Also, does anyone else wonder how these 3 high school kids (2 from other states IIRC) got to a weeknight game? Not that I care but it seems odd.

  20. redfred2 10/26/2006 at 9:50 AM #

    Hey O,

    Herb has the ability to do great out there at ASU. Like you said, it does take some luck, but there were intangibles missing here. If, as you say, “Herb has tons of experience from his stint at NC State” and he looks back honestly, uses those experiences in retrospect to make adjustments within, he absolutely has the ability to elevate that program higher than it’s ever been.

    Herb is trying to develop a style, with a certain type of player, that couldn’t stand up night after night in the ACC. Give him a few years to garner overall confidence from his players while playing lesser competition night in and night out, and his system may become a real factor. I’ve said it before, but Herb is still young, leaving the ACC will be the best thing for allowing his philosophy to take hold, and also for his own personal coaching career.

  21. Rick 10/26/2006 at 9:51 AM #

    I agree that Herb will have a positive effect on ASU.
    But what attirbutes (discipline and control) he posseses that brings a team from horrid to good are the same attirbutes that will keep them form being great.

  22. Rick 10/26/2006 at 9:52 AM #

    ” You have to have some breaks go your way and for Herb they just never seemed to go his way”

    I get so tired of the “he was unlucky” tripe.
    People make their own luck. His “luck” was bad because of his own actions.

  23. Woof Wolf 10/26/2006 at 10:09 AM #

    Good recruits. Control them. Break thier spirit. Run them off.

    How many of Herb’s great recruits stayed here more than two years and went on to start in the NBA. Given enough time he could coach the talent out of anyone.

  24. Lock 10/26/2006 at 10:11 AM #

    This has stayed quite civil.

    I’ll be watching ASU. I’ll be rooting for the guy. I’m curious to see how he does out there.

    And I am in NO way trying to say that Lowe won’t get us where we want to be, but I will be interested in seeing which team makes it to the NCAAs first, and which team, over the next 10 years, is the most consistent.

    Rest assured, I hope it’s the red and white from State. I like Sendek. I love my alma mater.

  25. Wulfpack 10/26/2006 at 10:17 AM #

    Ah, Ron Kelley. I loved that guy!

    “But what attirbutes (discipline and control) he posseses that brings a team from horrid to good are the same attirbutes that will keep them form being great.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Herb did a solid job here, just couldn’t get over the hump. It seems he settled for consistency and not so much trying to hit the home run. I think Sidney will have a difficult time in the early years developing that same consistency, but at the same time, he will hit a few homers! And for that I am very optimistic.

    I once said when Herb left for ASU that he is headed to greener pasteurs. I should clarify that I didn’t mean ASU is a more desireable place than NCSU, or that their program is in any way close to what our’s is from a historical standpoint. What I really meant is that ASU is a perfect fit for Herb Sendek, where he will be appreciated if he can get them to 20 wins and a tourney bid. That’s far better than what they have been in the past, and as long as he is able to do that and implement his system, they’ll be happy with him. And that’s fine, to each their own. I wish Herb well. I just think his rigidity and inflexibility really hindered him from being able to take us to the next level.

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