Memphis Uconn Basketball

Memphis coach Josh Pastner uses a card to call a defensive play against Connecticut during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Mark Weber)

Uncle Herb, we hardly knew ya.

Well, that’s not true, but that’s a thing people say.

Anyway, on Tuesday, ASU fired Herb Sendek as coach after nine seasons with the Sun Devils.

It comes as something of a surprise, since ASU was, well, a surprise this year in finishing in fifth-place with a roster depleted by departures.

The Sun Devils lost their three best players — Jahii Carson, Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall — and still finished 17-14.

However, they somehow lost to the Pac-12’s worst team in the conference tournament, a 14-loss fifth place season became an accomplishment, and the program never really felt like it was going to rise to be anything more than a middle-of-the-road school in the Pac-12 under Sendek’s watch.

I really do think Sendek is a solid basketball coach, but he just could not compete with Sean Miller and Arizona, on the recruiting trail especially.

(Fun fact, if you didn’t know it already: Miller and OSU coach Thad Matta are kind of on the Sendek coaching tree, having been assistants on his staff at Miami (Ohio) in the 1990s. And Miller was on his staff at NC State too.)

ASU should be a desirable school for recruits — location, weather, other stuff — it just hasn't been. 

Anyway, here’s a closer look at Sendek’s tenure at ASU, and what’s next for the Sun Devils.


Herb Sendek

Record at ASU (9 years): 155-133, 68-86 Pac-10/12 (Ouch)

Best seasons

  • 2008-09: 25-10, 11-7 Pac-10, NCAA second round
  • 2009-10: 22-11, 12-6 Pac-10, NIT first round
  • 2013-14: 21-12, 10-8 Pac-12, NCAA second round

Worst seasons

  • 2006-07: 8-22, 2-16 Pac-10
  • 2010-11: 12-19, 4-14 Pac-10
  • 2011-12: 10-21, 6-12 Pac-12

Highlights:

  • Getting James Harden (2007) and Jahii Carson (2011). Both highly-touted recruits, both picked ASU over Arizona (and others), both helped extend Sendek’s life-span quite a bit, helping him to his only two NCAA Tournament bids.
  • Beating Arizona: Since his first year in 2007, ASU is 9-8 against the Wildcats, including two huge upsets this season and last at home. With Harden, they were 5-0 against the Wildcats.
  • Finding Carrick Felix and Jordan Bachynski (both 2010): Felix was a transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, Bachynski a center from Canada. Felix was an All-Pac-12 selection and drafted by the Cavaliers, Bachynski won defensive player of the year.
  • Winning coach of the year (2010): ASU was solid still after losing Harden to the NBA.

Lowlights:

  • One. NCAA. Tournament. Win. In nine years. Need I say more?
  • The 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons: The Sun Devils were a combined 22-40 in those two years.
  • Recruiting vs. Miller and Arizona: Since 2011, Sendek tried and failed to reel in Nick Johnson, Grant Jerrett, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Ray Smith, Justin Simon, Chance Comanche and even Tyler Dorsey (who de-committed from Arizona and now is set for Oregon).
  • Losing to USC. This year, first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, last-place team. That was bad.

What’s next?

  • Personnel: The Sun Devils are set to return a solid core of guard Gerry Blakes, center Eric Jacobsen, guard Tra Holder and forward Savon Goodman, an All-Pac-12 level talent. So, the cupboard isn’t completely bare.
  • Recruiting: Sendek recently lost 2017 guard Markus Howard, from Chandler, Ariz., who de-committed from the Sun Devils. They have 3-star forward Dominic Green coming in 2015, and three-stars center Lucas Siewert, guard Lindsey Drew and forward Brendan Bailey for 2016, but it remains to be seen if they’ll stick to their commitment.

Coaching candidates

Doug Haller did a great job here of highlighting some potential candidates.

I’m personally super intrigued by the Tommy Amaker mention, and I’m very pro-Jack Murphy from NAU, but based on chatter it seems like Josh Pastner, Jeff Capel and Russell Turner are names to watch right now.

  • Josh Pastner, the Memphis coach, is a UA alum and former Wildcats assistant, is young (37) and has been with the Tigers for six years. This season was his first without a post-season bid, and he’s been to four NCAA Tournaments, with one win.
  • Jeff Capel is an assistant at Duke, but was a head coach at VCU and Oklahoma for a combined nine years, making three NCAA Tournaments in that span, including an Elite Eight with the Blake Griffin Sooners in 2009.
  • Russell Turner is the UC Irvine coach and has done a solid job of building up the Anteaters programs in his five years there, the last three with postseason bids, including this year’s NCAA Tournament.