April 3, 2012
Kyle Dodd: Hi we’d like to welcome everyone to the fan forum with your Sun Devil Basketball coach Herb Sendek. This is an exclusive event for sun devil fans as coach Sendek will update you on the status of the program and we’ll be taking questions live from Sun Devil basketball fans. We’re going to try to get to all the questions tonight, but you have to understand that we may not get to everything.
Kyle Dodd: At this time I’d like to welcome Coach Sendek and we’re going to turn it over to him for a minute just to give you an update on where the program is at this moment and where it’s headed in the future. Coach we appreciate you coming down.
Coach Sendek: Thank you, it’s great to be with you all you Sun Devil fans this evening and I really appreciate you caring enough about our program and being passionate enough to spend this hour with us this evening. My answers are going to be very transparent; I’m going to be very open with you. In some cases that requires me to offer explanations, I hope you don’t take it as me being defensive but really just me trying to let you know exactly where we stand on anything you have in mind.
Coach Sendek: So rather than me trying to provide a monologue I think it’d be best if we just get right to the question so we can get to as many as we possibly can.
Kyle Dodd: Thanks Coach and it looks like we have a lot of passionate fans on the line so we’re going to get to the phone lines and once again you can press star three at anytime to get to a representative to ask your question with Coach. Right now our first caller is going to be, he’s been a season ticket holder for a while now, John Froke.
John: Hey, thanks Kyle. Hi Coach, it’s John Froke. I’m from Glendale.
Coach Sendek: Hi John.
John: Hey Coach, thank you. I appreciate ASU putting this thing on tonight. Hey I didn’t miss a home game this season. Obviously it wasn’t what everybody wanted with the results, but at the thirty-thousand foot level can you give us maybe an overview of what Men’s Basketball may look like for the 2012- 2013 season?
Coach Sendek: Absolutely, thank you for your call I really appreciate it. You know to be honest with you I’m really excited about our program but at the same time I share your disappointment in the results this year. As you look at our team for next year I think we have a really great nucleus of guys returning but we also have as many as six new players to integrate and it’s still hard to determine whether or not this spring we may add to that group for next year. But if you look at our team, let’s break it down. We’ll start at the point guard; I think we have a couple of guys who occupy that spot for us. Obviously Jahii Carson, a local product from Mesa who we were hoping would play for us this past year, will be ready to go. He is a dynamic, explosive athlete who comes to us as a highly recruited player from Mesa High School. We have Chris Colvin who had to make the transition to Arizona State this past year and there were some bumps in the road I know but I think all our fans would agree that he finished on a strong note; especially with that game winning shot against Arizona and a fine performance against the Wildcats. Then you go over to the right and look at two other guards in the program. We have Evan Gordon, the brother of Eric Gordon, a young man who practiced with us this year but wasn’t able to play. Evan is a proven Division I player, he was averaging almost 15 points a game at Liberty University before transferring to Arizona State and I can tell you as he practiced with us this year he is really good. He just has the innate ability to score, he’s a very serious player and extremely hard worker and although he’ll be a junior he’ll be in his fourth year of college this year. We also have a local product, Calaen Robinson, who played for Corona Del Sol, a high school that finished in the top 25 in the USA poll. He’s a left hander, he’s really quick and he was player of the year here in his classification. He can get his shot off really quick, he’s going to need some strength but I’m really excited about Calaen joining us from Corona Del Sol. You slide over and we have Carrick Felix returning as a guard/small forward. Carrick is on time to graduate this summer and yet still is going to return for his senior year and work on his master’s degree. Carrick once again went through the transition and I thought this year really showed improvement especially with his shooting. He is a great athlete and a very charismatic player for the Sun Devils. Then you have Bo Barnes, another local guy who transferred from Hawaii who sat out but practiced with us this year. Bo is a long-range shooter, he can really shoot the basketball and I love the toughness that he brings to our team. Continuing the slide to the right on the depth chart you have Jonathan Gilling. Jonathan I thought had an outstanding year especially after he made the transition to American college basketball. Jonathan had some big games for us and ironically he had his big games against some of our best opponents scoring 21 points in our last game against Arizona. He had terrific performances against Washington and UCLA and I just think he has awesome potential. Then we have another freshman, Kenny Martin who’s about 6’9. He has long arms and long hair, by the way I’m jealous of his hair. He looks a little bit like Dirk Nowitzki, but Kenny has an innate ability to block shots and he’s going to need some strength but he’s a high-energy guy and I think fans are going to love his motor. Then you slide over to the right one more time and you have Jordan Bachynski, arguably from the middle of January to the end of the season was the most improved player in our conference. A young man who didn’t play any basketball for three straight years and as he gained more experience and got more comfortable, man did he finish the season strong and we’re really excited about his return. Then we have Ruslan Pateev who will finish his senior year as a solid post player for us. Then we signed Eric Jacobsen another local product. All of our new guys are from the valley. Eric Jacobsen is a 6’10, frontcourt player who’s strong, he’s physical, he’s tough, and he has great hands and a good feel for the game. He’s an excellent passer and he makes his free throws. So you look at that composite John, I’m really excited about getting started with that group and we’re going to have a lot of work to do and we’re going to be very challenged but I feel really good about that group of players.
John: Thank you coach I appreciate that.
Coach Sendek: Thank you for your question.
Kyle Dodd: Thanks again John. I got a little fired up just listening to coach go down the line there and you know in college basketball some of the components that make good college basketball teams are teams that have guards that can create and get in the lane and like coach said with Jahii Carson, you’re going to have that available to you. Guys that can shoot the basketball outside and Jon Gilling proved that he can do that this year and you add Gordon and Barnes to the mix and you got guys that can stroke it from the outside. Then we have an inside presence with Jordan Bachynski who is coming on strong and finished out the year as strong as anybody in the conference. We have some components in place next year and it’s going to be a season we can look forward to.
Kyle Dodd: We’re going to go to the next question here and it’s from John Blumenstock, he’s been a 5-year season ticket holder and John we appreciate having you on.
John: Thank you and thank you Coach for taking the time.
Coach Sendek: My pleasure John and thank you for being a season ticket holder the past five years.
John: Well having moved here from Louisville, my expectations are a little high but you’re the reason we became season ticket holders.
Coach Sendek: I appreciate that, I’m a Louisville fan for this weekend with Coach Pitino taking his team to the Final Four and on the other side one of my former assistances is with the Buckeyes there but I had a chance to visit with Coach while they were in town and he’s done an incredible job with your Louisville Cardinals this year.
John: For sure, well I’m also a Sun Devils fan. What I’ve seen this year is the games seem to be boring. The players didn’t seem to exhibit a high level of energy that you see from Rick Pitino’s team. There seems to be very little pressing going on, maybe you’re seeing something that we didn’t but as a spectator going to these games I always say, ‘boy these games are not real lively’.
Coach Sendek: Yeah, well part of it is we have to really work hard to make it a great atmosphere in Wells Fargo. I know sometimes it’s tough to do that when your team is struggling, but to the extent that every one of you that are loyal season ticket holders can get just one more person in the stands, man that makes a difference when that atmosphere changes. You can attest to that maybe having been to the Yum Center or back in the day to Freedom Hall. But focusing on our team, our style of play changed dramatically from what we intended to do in July and what we planned to do in the beginning of the year to what we eventually had to do. I’ll be the first to tell you we were milking the clock, we were playing a relatively slow brand of basketball due to our lack of depth and the quandary we found ourselves in at times of point guard. I mean there was games John where we had a freshman walk-on point guard play as many as fifteen minutes in the game and so we had to adjust the style of play accordingly.
Coach Sendek: If you go back, for example how we played in the Grand Canyon game, when we still had Keala, we still had Chris, and we thought Jahii was going to join us around the corner that was anything but boring. So what we do for style of play is ask ourselves, who do we have and how do we put our team in the best possible competitive situation? But we literally played most the season with guys in many instances who weren’t able to come out of games. I mean guys would look and go coach I need a blow and I would pretend I couldn’t hear them. So that had to be taken into account with our style of play. I think if we can achieve greater depth and the ability to push the ball, I think those kinds of things will come. If you look at our teams, for example with North Carolina State, you know we had a team that knocked off Michigan State in the first round and then lost a heartbreaker to a Connecticut team with Butler and the reason we beat Michigan State that year I believe is because of our press. We’ve had teams that have been able to do that very, very well but if your team isn’t built for that then it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to try to do it. But I think despite taking some real bumps and bruises, despite having our heart broken, despite a very difficult season I think our guys showed a lot by staying with it. The fact that they could go through what they endured and still on the last home game of the season put it together like they did against Arizona to me, it was really encouraging.
John: Very good, I appreciate it.
Coach Sendek: Thanks John, I really look forward to seeing you next season.
Kyle Dodd: Thanks John, we’re going to move along here and we have another caller. We’re going to go to Lance Venable who’s been a season ticket holder for 26 years, which is really nice to hear.
Coach Sendek: Lance thanks for being a long time season ticket holder.
Lance: Well yeah we’re Sun Devil hoop lifers; we’re going to support you no matter what.
Coach Sendek: My wife doesn’t even do that, so that’s a hell of a statement!
Lance: Well loyalty is a big thing in our household so we’re there for you. We know that you are entering your 7th year on the job and while the program did experience a three year period of 20 win seasons you know that was nice, but you know we have finished tenth place three times under your tenure and twice in the last two seasons. You’ve only been to one NCAA tourney since you’ve arrived and quite frankly I think the prospect of going back any time soon doesn’t look very good. The kids are leaving the program at an alarming rate and the attendance is pretty low, probably one of the lowest I’ve seen in 26 years and even on the message boards people are talking about turning in their season tickets because of the losses, style of play, and the transfers. All this has happened on your watch. So my question to you is, if I were a top level recruit why would I want to come to ASU and play for you and what specifically can you do to make ASU’s program a more desirable destination for these recruits and if I can quote your former boss Rick Pitino, I don’t think James Harden or Jeff Pendergraph are going to be walking through that door anytime soon, so what can you do?
Coach Sendek: Well it’s not just what I can do but what we can do, and you have a roll in that yourself and you’re fulfilling that by continuing to come to our games and support our team regardless. Let’s just go back through some of your commentary Lance. Yes we did finish in last place my first year and yet I think anybody who watched that team play could be nothing but proud of the effort that team gave. That was one of the most fulfilling years I’ve ever had as a coach. But what ends up happening here is history can end up getting rewritten and now you put that in the opposite column as you evaluate our performance. Those kids play their hearts out for ASU and they represented us in a grand fashion and there’s a lot of ways to measure success and by any measure that I care to use those guys were tremendous. It was a tremendous experience for me coaching them and you know when you give everything you have you never really lose.
Coach Sendek: Then you move forward and we did have three outstanding years, in fact I would argue we had near a miraculous turnaround and given the state of where we were in college basketball, the fact that we were able to put that together for three years was astounding. We did have James Harden and went to the NCAA tournament, we had the third pick in the lottery and we went to three postseason plays and arguably should have been in the NCAA tournament the other two years, by a lot of empirical measures we were there.
Coach Sendek: Then you go to the next two years and nobody is more frustrated or disappointed than I am and I own it and I take responsibility. But if I had told you before last season, that Jahii would not be eligible, that we would have to dismiss Keala, who was a top 25 recruit in the country, and that our best player would be injured a good part of the season, you yourself would’ve said, whoa timeout that could be a tough year. So I look back at my 27 years in coaching and this is the first year we’ve ever been in this position. I’m excited about our future and look to people like you to help fill the arena and create the atmosphere that recruits are going to want to play in. Believe me, I’ve never felt better about our recruiting than I do right now. We have sowed the seeds, and our recruits know, let’s give them credit; they look at the fact that James Harden came here and became the third pick in the lottery. They look at the fact that Derek Glasser came here as a walk-on and left here with four school records. They look at the fact that every post player that has played for me, back to Josh Powell, Cedrick Simmons, and Jeff Pendergraph have all been first round draft picks; Eric Boateng is on the cusp of making the league. They look at our history, they look at Julius Hodge who scored 2,000 points and 800 rebounds and 500 assists, one of three players in ACC history to do that. They look at Wally Szczerbiak at Miami of Ohio and say how can he go from a non-recruited player to a lottery pick. There’s a lot of positive sales so I’m not buying the nonsense, I am taking ownership of the last two years but I refuse to be Eeyore and walk around like oh my goodness the skies going to fall tomorrow. We have a great cast of kids that deserve a lot of support and I know they’re going to get it from the people who care. I couldn’t be more excited. I wish the season started tomorrow and that’s not withstanding the pain that we’ve all felt the last two years.
Lance: Thank you very much coach I appreciate it.
Coach Sendek: See ya there Lance.
Kyle Dodd: Moving along here with something that I know is a topic that’s been discussed here throughout the community is the amount of players that have left the program. Understandably you want everybody that you sign to stay in the program but that’s not always going to happen. We’re going to take a question here regarding that and I think that everyone needs to understand that obviously it’s a difficult situation and each circumstance is different. So let’s go out right now and we’re going to go to Gracie Calderon from Mesa.
Gracie: My husband and I have been season ticket holders for almost four years. We are big ASU supporters. We have been season ticket holders for football for over 25 years so it was just the next step for us to sign up for basketball tickets. I have gotten kind of sad because it seems like for every step forward, we seem to take five back. What really concerns me is that I felt that we had some good players and then all of a sudden these players are leaving and I see on the NCAA tournament two of your former players playing. So my question to you is why are all of your players leaving? What is the problem and why can’t we retain them?
Coach Sendek: I get your question, and first of all, all of our players are not leaving. Some of our players are leaving, just like an epidemic in college basketball. Do you realize that over 40% of all college basketball players are transferring by their sophomore year right now? The guys that have left our program by in large have been the guys that wanted to go where they could play more. If you look at the guys who have transferred from our program, we haven’t had one guy transfer to a BCS school that left on his own. So our guys have transferred so they could play more. If you look at it, you’re allowed five guys on the court at a time and if you do the math there’s only 200 minutes, 40 minutes times 5. Yet we have sometimes as many as thirteen guys on scholarship. So some of those guys who aren’t playing as much come in and they want to transfer. They’ve come and ask me, “coach if I come back will I play more?” and if I can’t tell them in good faith that they will then we might even agree that it’s better for them to transfer. In other words it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes there’s a better opportunity for that young man to go to a different school. It’s no different than for an employee to take a job at another company. I think if you look at the guys that have transferred from our program, maybe not every single one, but mostly they’ve just been kids who wanted to play more.
Gracie: I don’t blame them, my problem is how are we going to compete with U of A, which every year seems to get better, and we are not following that track?
Coach Sendek: Well the U of A has a great basketball tradition and they’re going to be one of the best programs in college basketball. They have a great coach, they have phenomenal support, and they recruit at a high level, so they’re going to be good and we can’t stop them from being good. We just want to be good as well, you know the two of us can both be good and fortunately we’re on a pretty good streak, we’ve won seven of our last eleven against them Gracie.
Gracie: I know. I was the one cheering the loudest. They wanted to kill me at the last game.
Coach Sendek: See and that’s the positive. It’s like any business, sometimes you do take a step back, sometimes you have a bad quarter, and sometimes you have a bad year but you learn from that and you galvanize and you move forward. This isn’t going to be a geometric progression, every year is not always better than the last year. Sometimes you do take a slip, sometimes you do skin your knees and that’s what we’ve done the last two years but it’s made us more resolute, more determined. It’s brought us together in a special way and we’re really excited about moving forward. The competition is a great program, I have a lot of respect for their program and there are a lot of other good teams in our conference so it’s never going to be easy and that’s why we need all the help. That’s why we need everybody like you pulling together, not just when it’s going well but when we’re struggling like we have the last two years.
Gracie: Thank you, I appreciate your time.
Coach Sendek: Thank you Gracie.
Kyle Dodd: Coach you brought up a good point and it’s kind of something that fascinated me. In college basketball, I always wondered how you balance a guy that might be super talented and what you’re wiling to give and some of that stuff without compromising the integrity of your program. You know that’s been one of your strengths since you got here and there have been guys that are talented basketball players but you’re not willing to compromise the integrity of the program in order to keep a kid around. That’s just not in the right mindset.
Coach Sendek: Oh there’s no question, we could’ve diminished that transfer number by some if we had chose to be more willing to turn our head the other way and we might have even won more games in the short term in some instances. But I think as we look to build a program and we look to have an integrity based program you have to have certain standards. Even if that means going on a road trip with three guys back home. Even if that means we dismiss a player that could help us win the next weekend of games. It’s the right thing to do if we’re going to have a character driven, integrity-based program. We perhaps would improve our retention rate short term but I don’t know if it would in the long term.
Kyle Dodd: Absolutely, I think you’re right on, on that one. Right now we’re going to go back to the callers and we’re going to go with Nina Voldeng, who has been a season ticket holder for 40 years. Nina we certainly appreciate your support.
Nina: Thank you very much. My husband and I are graduates of Kansas State and University of Kansas so we are accustom to really good basketball and that’s one reason we came to ASU for season tickets. Our question is, how can you get and retain eligible four and five star players that we see going to all the other schools?
Coach Sendek: I’m not sure I quite follow you, are you talking about how are we going to get more of the top 25 or 30 players in the country?
Nina: More of the top four and five star players, the more ranked players?
Coach Sendek: Yeah, we’re not so much concerned about how they’re rated as opposed to how they fit into our program and our profile. Now we have a very streamline profile that we’re moving forward with. We’re looking for guys who have great character and we’re looking for guys who can do the work academically. I think it’s especially important right now that we identify guys that have competitive toughness. I think that’s something that we really need to be better at as we move forward. Another thing that we’re looking for are guys that have a passion for the game, that love the game of basketball because they’re the ones who tend to get better. The third thing is what is your basketball IQ? The guys who fare best for us are the guys who have a good basketball IQ. Then of course you have skill and you have athleticism. So that’s kind of our checklist and obviously nobody grades out perfectly in all of those areas but we want the strongest combination of those attributes possible. It’s not always who’s rated the highest, I mean look at Derek Glasser, he was going to walk-on in our conference at SC and he left here with four school records. Let’s look at Jeff Pendergraph who wasn’t among the top 25 players in the country coming out of high school and yet led the nation in field goal percentage and plays for the Indiana Pacers. So player development is also a very important part of what we do. It’s something quite frankly I think our staff has done very well.
Coach Sendek: We have to obviously recruit talented players and we have. Let’s look at a guy like Jordan Bachynski who I think is coming into his own. We beat two outstanding programs, Connecticut and BYU to get Jordan. Jahii Carson could’ve gone anywhere in the country to play. We have any number of guys, you mentioned Carrick Felix, and he actually chose Arizona State over Kansas State. That was his second choice and so we do have good players who have been highly recruited but as we move forward I think we’re really going to follow the profile if you will that I outlined for you.
Kyle Dodd: Thanks Nina, we appreciate it again. You’re definitely a big fan, you’ve been there for forty years and we appreciate it. I just want to touch on something you mentioned Coach about the skill development side of things and just going to practice I noticed that you guys do a lot of what I believe you guys call 6 Minute Skill Blast. That’s something that I haven’t seen many programs do, and even in the middle of the season you’re concentrating on skill development in the middle of Pac-12 play. I was really impressed with that. I get questions in the community a lot about are we working on skill development? Why are we turning it over? Are we working on this stuff? And I know personally that you are. I mean I’ve gone to practice but can you touch on the skill development side of things?
Coach Sendek: Yeah, we have a great basketball program for someone who’s a basketball Benny; who loves the game. Somebody who plays so they can get a date with the homecoming queen, we’re not a school for. But we love guys that are gym rats and we have a great environment for guys who want to get in the gym and work on their game. What we really believe in are the emphasis on fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals and we do it to help our guys get better. I like short segments in practice due to attention span reasons, we go hard for a short segment and then we turn the page and like you said Kyle, we always try to incorporate several segments of skill work and we’ll continue to do that. I think it’s a big reason why that if you look at the players who stayed through their career you almost can’t find somebody who hasn’t improved significantly. Look at the improvement of Eric Boateng compared to where he started and where he finished. Guys have really improved in our program and it’s not only here at Arizona State but it’s been at every one of our stops along the way. So player development is really important to us.
Coach Sendek: The other thing that we’re really looking to do is perhaps take some transfers, you know we’re the benefactor of guys coming into our program. Everybody’s talking about oh my goodness look who’s left but in some cases we’ve replaced guys that have left with better players and we’ve replaced them with guys that are transferring to us. Eric Boateng, Bo Barnes, Evan Gordon and right now with all the transfers that are out there this spring I wouldn’t be surprised if we added another one. So the transfer phenomenon has almost created a free agency effect in college basketball that ASU has benefitted from as much as we’ve been hurt by.
Kyle Dodd: Absolutely! We’re going to go back to the phones and we’re going to have Dennis who’s a long time faculty member and also a season ticket holder, Dennis you’re on with Coach.
Dennis: Coach I want to thank you for all your hard work. I want the listeners to know I happen to work for ASU. I happen to be a faculty member but I’m more or less like you, just a long time season ticket holder. I don’t know coach well, but I did help out at a luncheon in recruiting Trent Lockett and his family to invest in Arizona State both academically and athletically. I read in the paper, that he and his family are going through some tough times. I want to understand from you Coach, how does that work in your mentality when you’re thinking about how important a leader like Trent could be next year and trading that off with the human element of the personal family issues that he’s got going on in his life and with his mom? I’d like to have you visit with the fans/seasons ticket holders about how you sort that out in your mind in counseling Trent to make the best decision for him?
Coach Sendek: Sure, well I really appreciate that question and thank you again for helping us get Trent to Tempe. He’s had an outstanding career. He’s been a great ambassador for our University, being a member of the Barett College as well as our basketball program. But about a week or so ago when Trent called to tell me the situation with his family we agreed that we would meet the next day and we spent several hours together. We talked about some options and things that were involved. But I think from our stand point I think there’s really no confusion Dennis, our only role right now is to be supportive of Trent. As much as we would love to have him in the line up next year playing for the Sun Devils, as selfishly as we would love to have him help us next season that is not even in the picture if the best thing for him to do is to be closer to his mom. So my role is to be there for him in any way I can to be supportive and help him through this very difficult time. We have a wonderful relationship, the door is still open and he may come back and be at Arizona State next year, nothing has been concluded at this point. But as we walk through this process together I think it’s important that he and his mom know first and foremost that Herb Sendek, our coaching staff and the ASU community are there to support him and wish he and his family nothing but the best. As much as we want him in the next game, as much as we’d love to have him in the line up, it’s not even on the radar if that’s not the best thing for him and his family. If it is and we could work it out that he could return then that would be awesome but our primary role is to be supportive.
Kyle Dodd: I think we cut you off there Dennis, but we appreciate the call and thanks for taking the time. Just to echo what coach said, I hope the ASU family understands what kind of kid this guy is and being around him just the little bit I was doing the broadcasting deal and just getting to know Trent, he’s just an unbelievable guy. In my opinion he is one of the best ever to put on that maroon and gold, everybody needs to keep him in their thoughts and prayers as well as his mom.
Kyle Dodd: We’re going to continue with the calls. We’re going to go to Mike Burns. He’s been a season ticket holder as well and Mike you’re on with Coach.
Mike: I’ve been around since before the arena opened!
Coach Sendek: My only mistake Mike, I know how passionate you are about basketball, is not having you on the staff recruiting for us because nobody follows it more arduously than you do.
Mike: Thanks Coach. My question for you is we’ve got three local guys coming into the program, do you think by recruiting local players who have family and friends who connect in the sports system for them, does that make it less likely that they would want to transfer as opposed to a player coming from Carolina or Florida or somewhere else?
Coach Sendek: Absolutely. Trent is the second player, assuming that he ends up leaving, that we would have lost. We had another player transfer to be closer to family, a situation of a similar circumstance. I think all things being equal; it’s easier to do the further away that you are. I would agree with that, you know we’d love to be able to recruit from the inside out and you look at our entire class, the three that you just mentioned. You look at Jahii, Bo Barnes, and Carrick Felix; all of a sudden we have six local guys on our team for next year and not to mention David Whitmore who does a great job for us at Corona Del Sol. So we have I think the strongest local presence on our team since I’ve been here and high school basketball in this area keeps getting better. Obviously I don’t think there will be a time where we have all 13 guys from this area, but I like the fact that we’re building from inside out. I like the international players; obviously California is an important state for us because it’s not that far. But I would agree with that insight and so I think if you look at our recruiting strategy, it’s inside out. What can we do with international guys, the state of California is an important state for us and then obviously we’ll Polk-a-dot with some guys around here as well. But as a general strategy I think you’re right, you’ve hit a very important point Mike.
Kyle Dodd: Thanks Mike, we appreciate the call. Coach you touched on international guys and we’re going to go to Allen right now who has a question regarding recruiting in Europe.
Allen: Yes, Coach I’m an ASU dad. My son received an excellent education from ASU at the business school and my son Mike and I have had a lot of great times watching the basketball games. The question I have is how do you feel about recruiting in Europe? It seems we’ve had some success with recruiting in Europe and do you expect to continue?
Coach Sendek: Well I think our game is now an international game. I think as you follow our Olympic teams, as you look in the NBA there are record numbers of international players playing in the NBA. The competition becomes more difficult every year for our teams playing in the Olympics and you know in the PAN AM games and the World University games and so there are good players all over the place. So not like other sectors of society, whether it’s the business world or academia where outstanding students are coming and populating our universities at record numbers. I think in our sport of basketball we have to be open minded, we have to have far reaching tentacles. And we’ve had some outstanding international players through the years. I had a couple terrific guys at North Carolina State and right now on our team we have three of our better players from other countries, Jordan Bachynski from Calgary Alberta, Canada, Jonathan Gilling from Denmark and of course Ruslan Pateev from Russia. So we really have that flavor, not unlike Arizona State University where we have students from 140 countries.
Kyle Dodd: Thanks again Allen. Coach you mentioned there Jon Gilling, and something that I wanted to ask you was Jon Gilling really came on at the end of the year and I think just being a guy that’s been around basketball his whole life he has a tremendous basketball IQ. I just think that it got to the point where he wasn’t scared to take a big shot and he obviously hit a bunch of them against U of A. I think this kid has a chance to be an all Pac-12 player sooner rather than later, can you talk about Jon Gilling’s progress.
Coach Sendek: Yeah, he went from a young guy who had eyeballs as big as flying saucers when he first got here. The speed and physicality of the game was new to him but I tell you what you hit the nail right on the head Kyle. He does have a great basketball IQ and he has spunk. He is fearless and I just am excited about this off season for him where he can continue to transform his body, he’s going to have the experience of this past freshman year under his belt moving forward next year and he really is my kind of player. He’s the kind of guy that I coach most effectively, he can absorb coaching. He does have a good basketball IQ. The best part of his IQ is his passing, you know not only are we running things for him to score but a lot of times when I’d be running something for one of the guys on the team I made sure that he was the primary deliverer. He’s an excellent passer, good vision and a nice touch on his pass. Really excited about Jonathan Gilling and another thing that our fans would love to know about Jonathan, man he has a great sense of humor. He gives me a hard time and breaks my shoes as much as anybody on the team so I have to always be aware when I’m around Jon.
Kyle Dodd: Alright Sun Devil fans we only have fifteen minutes left on the call and we understand there are a lot of calls out there so at the end of the call we encourage you to hang on and you’ll have a chance to leave a voicemail. We’ll get back to the phones and try to answer as many questions as we can. Right now we’ve got Rich Dubeck.
Rich: Thanks for doing this coach. We really appreciate your time speaking to season ticket holders and to take valuable time out of your day to do this so thank you.
Coach Sendek: I love doing it and I’m only sorry we didn’t do it sooner and maybe we can do it more regularly moving forward.
Rich: Excellent. The question I have, I’m going to switch my questions a little bit because you answered what I had planned to ask already. Looking at next year, looking at the talent we’ve got coming in, it’s a two-part question. The first part is are you prepared to open up offensively with Calaen Robinson and Jahii Carson? I’ve seen what they can do, these guys are phenomenal when they get out and run. Are we going to play to their strengths? The second part of the question is based on that, do you think we can be competitive in the Pac-12 next year?
Coach Sendek: Yes to both questions. We have to open it up to best take advantage of some of the guys we have. Not unlikely done in the past but we’re always going to put our guys in the best possible position given their strengths. But having said that, as much as it’s fun to talk about, ultimately to win basketball you have to defend and score in the half court because the best teams have to get back and play transition defense. No different than the NBA playoffs that are upcoming. It’s great to talk about playing up and down in November and December in the NBA but you get into April, May and June you and I both know what that game turns into. So as much as we can talk about that to create a buzz and create excitement, at the end of the day the best coached teams don’t give you easy baskets in transition and you’ve got to be able to execute in the half court. I know one thing about our defense; we’re not giving up easy baskets in transition. That’s something that we’re always good at. The other thing with our style of play the last few years it tends to be a little slower at times because teams take so long to attack our defense. It’s not that we’re passing more or taking more time on the shot clock than our opponent but they’re actually taking more time to probe our defense. But I do think that whether we’re contending for a championship next year or not you know there’s too many variables. What I will tell you is this, I love the direction of our program and once again I’m not trying to escapes what’s happened the past two years but I look at where we’re at with our junior and our sophomore recruiting. I have a big picture mentality in mind and I know the successes we’ve had the past 25 years in coaching and I’m very confident that we’re going to have good teams in the future. I don’t know if we can go from where we are today all the way to the moon by next year but we’re going to continue to grind and we’re going to have the kind of teams that play hard, play smart and play together. It is going to be easy to get behind and cheer for them. Our guys are going to do the right things. Our guys are going to give great effort and we’re going to have a character based program where it’s easy to get behind our guys and cheer for them. All of our guys graduate, all of our guys are held accountable for doing the right things and having said all that we all know it’s a competitive world in college basketball so we’re going to be challenged and we’re going to have to work like crazy, which we’re prepared to do.
Kyle Dodd: Well there’s a guy that’s working like crazy and I don’t blame him because he didn’t get a chance to play this year and its Jahii Carson. I know a lot of people have questions on Jahii so right now we’re going to go to Mike Fisher, Mike you’re on with Coach.
Mike: Coach I hear that Carson doesn’t want to play at ASU next year, what are the chances he’s actually going to play for you next year?
Coach Sendek: Well I don’t know where you heard that from because I certainly haven’t heard it and he is definitely going to play for the Sun Devils next year. I think what you’re referring to he did an interview on this yesterday. He sent out a tweet yesterday that he had to get out of Arizona and what he was referring to was he wanted to get away for a few days like the majority of our students including my daughter for spring break. It had nothing to do with Arizona State but I think it sent a panic through the Sun Devil nation. That’s not the case at all, I saw him today and he’s working hard and has a great attitude. He’s just chomping at the bit to be able to play for the Sun Devils next year and I think he clarified that yesterday on the interview on Channel 5.
Kyle Dodd: Yeah and I can echo that Coach, I know Jahii, as most kids are, is active on the Twitter world but you know Jahii mentioned that help is on the way and he’s ready to roll for next year. I think that’s really impressive for a young guy to understand with everything that’s gone on around him for him to be excited to put on that uniform. I know there were a couple stories earlier in the year and pictures taken of him and he looked so excited to have that jersey on and I think we all can’t wait for him to put that jersey on. So we’re going to continue here with the questions and we’re going to go to John Papez.
John: Hi Coach, I think that we’re very fortunate to have you as a head coach of our basketball program and all the values you bring into building a long-term program. The win against U of A was great and it was right up there with the win against UCLA a few years ago. One thing that disappoints me is there are never any kids there. The student section is sometimes 100 kids and I heard through the ticket office that they charge the kids $20 to watch the U of A game and they didn’t show up. My daughter goes to U of A and I asked her what’s the buzz about ASU basketball compared to ASU football. She said, ‘we never hear anything about ASU basketball’. So what can we do to get the student section built up? I think Todd Graham is Mr. Everywhere trying to get the football program going, I want to know what you’re doing as far as getting attendance for basketball or if you even consider that part of your job?
Coach Sendek: Well we’ve done everything and then some, I‘ve sat in a student section at football games, I’ve had lunch at the Memorial Union, we’ve had pep rallies, I’ve served breakfast before finals, I mean I could keep going but you get the idea. So there’s a constant and very passionate outreach to our student body and to be honest with you for some games this year they were actually pretty good. Can we be better at times? Absolutely, and I don’t think it’s a secret. I mean even when we won 25 games and had the third pick of the lottery we still had empty seats. So I think as we continue to build the program together we have to get to a point where it’s hard to get tickets and it’s not just the function of who we’re playing. It’s like when my kids play in sporting events, I go to the game and I don’t ask who they’re playing. If they’re playing the sharks or the menos it doesn’t matter to me. I go because my kid’s playing and that’s the mentality we need to adopt at Arizona State. That’ll help us as much as anything as far as recruiting to be honest with you.
Kyle Dodd: Again fans we just want to remind you we are getting down to the end if you do not get your question on that does not mean we’re not listening, you’ll get a chance to leave a message for coach and any of the staff here. We’ve got about five minutes here and we’ll try to get to some questions here, right now we are going to go to Lauren.
Lauren: Hey Coach thanks for taking my call.
Coach Sendek: Thanks for being with us Lauren.
Lauren: I wanted to ask, you broke down the outlook of the team as you see it for next year, having said that do you see us next year, as a result of potentially more athletic players, using more of a man-to-man defense versus a matchup zone?
Coach Sendek: Well if we did it, it wouldn’t be a function of athleticism. It would be a function of putting our guys in the best position to be successful. I will say this everything is open for serious consideration. I don’t have an announcement to make about that tonight but like we always do, even after we win a lot of games we ask ‘who do we have on our team and how can we put them in the best position to be successful?’ Defensively we’re going to look at that very seriously. The one thing I will say to you though whether it’s this offense or this defense it comes down to fundamentals. So even though we’ve played a zone the last few years, it’s really been no different than man to man and if you come to our practices and you didn’t know any different you would say to yourself they’re playing man to man because all of our fundamentals, all of our build up drills, everything we do is man to man. It just offers a little more camouflage for us on some things and I’m not at liberty to reveal everything right now. There are some strong considerations we have to take a look at given our personnel for next year like we always do. Really defensively over the last six years we’ve been pretty good, even in years we’ve been not as good in the win column for the most part that hasn’t been our biggest problem. In fact during our winning years our defensive numbers are pretty impressive.
Kyle Dodd: All right moving along, we are going to go to Joe Martinez, you’re on with Coach.
Joe: I’ve been a season ticket holder and a Sun Devil alumni and I started because I really respect your tenure and coaching. I respect the program and what you’re trying to do but I’d like to know what steps has the program taken to avoid the same thing happening again in the future that happened with Keala and some of the other players that weren’t quite up to standard?
Coach Sendek: First of all we’re never going to bat 100% and we haven’t seen our last transfer, no program has. So I think we have to understand that it’s not necessarily the end of the line with that but having gone through what we just did more than anything we’ve had a lot of vigorous staff meetings and discussions and what we’ve said to ourselves is let’s get even more specific in what were looking for. Let’s do a better job of having in depth homework on the front end. Let’s try to avoid getting caught in situations where we have the scramble in the spring time and hopefully that will help mitigate some of the mistakes we’ve made.
Kyle Dodd: Coach you mentioned bringing some more people in and I think that’s a question that people have right now. With some of the scholarships that have been opened up, are you going to bring anybody else in? Let’s go to Ryan McMahon.
Ryan: With all the transfers, are we possibly looking at bringing in more players in this next 2012 cycle, as well as, are you looking at specific positions?
Coach Sendek: Great question, right now we have one scholarship available and we are open minded. We probably will add the best player available right now and then we’ll have to wait and see if we have a second scholarship with what Trent does. So we have the ability to bring in one guy but we may not bring anybody in, we’ll just see what happens with Trent.
Kyle Dodd: I wish that we had time to get to everyone, we really appreciate it. I can’t tell you how many people have joined us tonight and we appreciate the passion. I think that’s a good sign because I think the worst thing you can have in a college basketball program or a college sports program is apathy and right now just seeing the amount of people called in tonight and asked the tough questions and the positive questions all the way around we can tell that this does mean something to the Sun Devil community. We do want our program to be successful and I certainly appreciate every one calling in and I know Coach does as well. We appreciate Coach Sendek coming out and taking the time to fill us in on where the program is headed and what he feels like are going to be the strengths. As a former player, I want to thank him for doing it and opening up and I really truly believe there’s some things on the horizon here and there’s some pieces in place that are going to make this program get back to where it was a couple years ago and just appreciate everyone taking the time and Coach coming in.
Coach Sendek: I love doing this and like I said I just regret not doing it sooner and if it’s okay with everybody who’s here maybe through the month of April we could this once a week and we can get to everybody. We can continue to connect. The only thing is, we need a lot of help but we’ll say this, our team and our staff is invigorated and we are determined. We really wish the season started tomorrow, we really do. So I thank you for joining us tonight. I don’t know if we’ll do it again. I’ll check with my bosses and if they want to do it again, I’m happy to sit here and talk with anybody that wants to call in. Thanks a lot.