Sendek Sees Limitless Opportunities with ASU

A loud round of applause welcomed Herb Sendek, who was introduced Monday as the Sun Devils 13th Basketball Head Coach. Sendek and ASU's Vice of President of Athletics Lisa Love were equally as excited as a new era begins in the school's basketball program.

Love called the search for a new basketball skipper as a "grind", but also well rewarding since the candidate she selected fit the mold that she was searching for all along. "I proceeded as though I had an ideal in mind with Arizona State University basketball about what we can do and where we are headed," she said. "From the very beginning when I came on board here in July, I have spoken to the same three tenets. The desire to have a talented, talented group of head coaches who follow the rules. I was looking for someone who can create tremendously competitively programs and, in this case, it happens to be men's basketball. I was looking for someone who plays by the rules and takes care of the guys who play for him, academically and socially. It's basically the three tenets that I have stuck to religiously."

"I spoke with numerous people," Love continued, "and numerous isn't even a generous figure, among the leaders of men's basketball. I spoke with common names in college basketball, people that you know of, people of high integrity that were incredibly accomplished in the sport, to find out who the right fit was to build the basketball environment that I feel we can have, and will have, at ASU. Ultimately, all roads led to Herb Sendek."

Love stated that a great deal of misinformation was communicated during the coaching search, which resulted in "some damage control during the search process." Nevertheless, she wasn't deterred by those events, and was willing to be patient with the grueling search process. "I stayed with it without a particular timeline in mind in an effort to say, `We will get this right no matter what it takes. No matter how long it takes, no matter how many flights I have to take, no matter how many frequent flyer miles I accumulate, we will do this the way it should be done to create a marriage that will remain, all for the right reasons to put us in the right stead." She added that the offer to Sendek was "The only offer I have made for this position, conversely to what has been reported, and it was to Herb Sendek. I think that it is important and I can't say that emphatically enough."

Sendek impressed Love with his integrity, graduation rates, and naturally his success on the court. "Herb just finished his tenth season leading the Wolfpack in Raleigh," she commented. He is accustomed to postseason play over and over and over and over. As an assistant, he has been on Final Four benches. He has been in at least the NIT every year, and even more impressively, was his role in reestablishing North Carolina State as an NCAA tournament program in the five most immediately past years. He is accustomed (to winning). It is not new to him, it's an expectation. He has faced the eye of the tiger in coaching for and against the very best in college basketball. I think that all of those things, plus the style and the way that he is true to his process in delivering a championship program, is what became very appealing to me about who he is. Very methodically, no shortcuts, very calculated."

Love asserted that the job Sendek had done turning around North Carolina State into an established program, ties into the job that is waiting for him here in Tempe. "I feel very fortunate that this is going to be a wonderful marriage between Herb Sendek, as our new architect for basketball and from our program and what we have to offer in that regard," she explained. "I think it will be powerful stuff and a great collaboration and partnership between the administration, the Sun Devil fans and the community. These are people who are anxious and ready for great basketball in Tempe. Herb Sendek, I believe, will deliver that very product in a very classy, top drawer, high style fashion. He knows how to do it and he has shown it. I am very proud that he has accepted this job to lead this basketball program."

Sendek began his comments by thanking North Carolina State's faculty, basketball staff and players for allowing him to succeed with the Wolfpack. Now that he begins a new stage in his career, he's excited for the road that lies ahead. "I have a real sense of appreciation in my heart for the opportunity that Lisa (Love) has given me together with Dr. Crow," he said. "We had dinner last night and I got goose bumps listening to them speak with such passion about ASU and the possibilities, the limitless ends, that this institution and community have open to them. When Dr. Crow identified his vision of excellence, inclusion, and impact, it really resonated with me that the timing right now is perhaps like no other time in this community or university's history to move forward and continue to do extraordinary things." He added that he's excited about what he called the `Yes, what we can do' attitude exhibited by Crow and Love.

Arizona State's basketball new man at the helm, asserted that from his perspective the timing on his part was a big key in his decision to explore the opportunity presented to him by the Sun Devils. "The time is really extraordinary for Arizona State University to move forward, as they have been doing now," he explained. "On a personal level, I thought it would be a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity, to start in my own professional career with a clean canvas to paint on. We have that opportunity at Arizona State to orchestrate and do some unique things. As I learned more about it through Lisa, it became apparent to me that this was the right fit, the right time, and it made great sense for myself and my family." He added that he did expect to bring his entire staff from NC State to ASU.

Ironically, Sendek father Herb Sr. grew up in Winburn, Penn. which is the same town that ASU's football coaching great Frank Kush called home. The senior Sendek used to tell stories of the "Legendary Frank Kush." Thus, Sendek's familiarity with the Arizona State program dates back decades ago. "With that connection to ASU's great past and all that he (Kush) accomplished, this has been something that my family and I have been aware of all of our lives."

Having exposure to great coaches along the way, is something that Sendek holds dear to his heart and claims that it has allowed him to become the coach he is today. "From the time I've been in diapers, I've been in gyms," he recalled. "I was so blessed to have such wonderful coaches around me at every level. These weren't guys that were coaching to be on SportsCenter or drive a nice car. Those were guys that coached so they can make a difference in someone's life. It was so easy to identify with them, and all those guys have enriched me tremendously."

Sendek is truly leaving his comfort zone. His recruiting ties are well entrenched in the east coast and consequently he has been recognized as one of the elite recruiters in the country. Some may think that his cross country venture to Tempe, may adversely impact him as he familiarizes himself with the lesser known territory. When Sendek was asked about this topic, he quickly dismissed any notions that he will be faced with a steep learning curve in his new surroundings.

"We have great respect for the West Coast and all it represents," he explained. I hope we are welcomed here, because this is going to be our new home. Our world is closer than it has ever been before. It's not west coast-east coast United States. We live in a global world. Our neighbors are everybody. We don't have arbitrary lines drawn by the Mississippi River, like we used to back in the cowboy days. We are in 2006, California and North Carolina are really not that far apart. We have had experience in recruiting the west coast. We have a member on my staff (Larry Harris) that has been on coaching staffs in the Pac-10. But let's be inclusive and inter-connective. The Mississippi River is no longer the great divider."

His pedigree naturally evokes expectations that the Sun Devils can overcome the traditional powerhouses in the Pac-10 such as UCLA, Arizona and Washington. Sendek on the other hand, would rather concentrate on his back yard so to speak. "I think our focus has to start and end with ourselves," he claimed. "We had a saying that we shared with our team all the time, `It's about us, not them'. That's where we have to focus our time and efforts. Specifically, the first focus has to be towards our men on our team right now, not on the men on Washington or Oregon State's team. This is a great league with some very accomplished programs. The Pac-10 is as competitive as any league in the country. We are going to have to battle tooth and nail to continue to get better."

Several members of ASU's hoops team such as Kevin Kruger, Jeff Pendergraph and Sylvester Seay were in attendance during the press conference. They have briefly met with their new skipper before this event and were scheduled to meet them at greater length later on in the afternoon. "My first impression was exactly what I expected from a Rob Evans-coached team," said Sendek. "I've known Coach Evans and I've been extremely impressed with him through out the years. The guys I met this morning presented themselves as gentlemen. They were articulate. They were courteous and respectful, and I was very impressed with our first meeting together."

Sendek agreed that this coaching career move, leaving surroundings that have become extremely familiar, does carry a sense of hunger and rejuvenation, and even drew somewhat of a parallel to ASU's archrival's coach. "Not that I'm trying to put myself on the same plateau as Coach (Lute) Olson," he said, "but it struck me that he was very successful at Iowa and in a well established program in the Big Ten and he made a quantum leap to Arizona at a similar stage in his career. And as you look at the demographics in this area, and look at all the possibilities, I go back to word I used earlier, ‘timing is everything'. It just seems like, for all the right reasons, this is the perfect time to be making this move for myself and my family. It is a limitless wonderful opportunity to be a part of this community."

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