Devils Move Past Tough Weekend

Herb Sendek will admit that last weekend was one of the toughest he has experienced as a college head coach. Not just the magnitude of the games, but the way his Arizona State Sun Devils lost, both contests decided in overtime, one heartbreaking buzzer beater.

"It was a very difficult weekend, very difficult," said Sendek, "Two overtime losses, especially the second one losing at the buzzer, is difficult to swallow. I don't know if our play was different than when we have won."

Sendek said that earlier games this season very easily could have gone just like this past weekend's games, but ASU got the breaks or made the big shot in those matchups.

"The combination of circumstances tilted in our favor," said Sendek of earlier victories in the season, "Somebody on another team misses the shot that Rochestie made somebody on our team made the shot. If you watch the screen of the two games, if somebody didn't tell you the score, you couldn't tell which one we lost and which one we won."

As tough as the losses were, Sendek knows more than anybody that ASU has to move past them and onto Stanford.

"I don't know if you get over it or not, but you get ready for the next game. No different as if you have a really good win. There is a direct correlation of youth and being able to stay in the present. They are still young enough to stay in the present.

"They were good in practice yesterday, they know what happened and they don't feel good about it, but today is Tuesday, not Saturday."

This weekend marks the final games at Wells Fargo Arena and with it, the last home games for senior Jeff Pendergraph. The program and the forward have come a long ways in just a few short years. It was not too long ago when Pendergraph almost left the program.

"Jeff and I talked when I first came, in April a couple of years ago," recalled Sendek, "I asked him to lead us on the court and to be a great ambassador for our program. He certainly has done that for us.

"I think that he did think about transferring. I never found myself having to sell him, we had some good talks. I think he really wanted to be at Arizona State."

Off the court, Pendergraph has been a model citizen and role model and has already graduated with a Bachelor's in Economics.

"Academically, he already has his degree and has been a tremendous person in the community for our program," said Sendek. "He had represented Arizona State with flying colors."

The Sun Devil skipper said that he is most impressed with the person Pendergraph has become. On and off the court he has become the leader of the progress that this program has made and a great teammate to all.

"The way he goes about his ordinary life and the way he smiles while riding in a parade," said Sendek of Pendergraph, "There will be somebody that comes to practice and afterwards he will spend time with him, whoever it is he will talk to him. It is a function of how he lives his daily life."

After this weekend's struggles, Pendergraph called out his team in the locker room. The forward doesn't regret what he said, but may have said it differently if he wasn't so upset after the losses.

"I think I said it the wrong way; it was in the heat of the moment," said Pendergraph, "Some people say some things that they don't mean when they are upset. I know what we have to do to win and I am trying to get everyone else to realize it.

"It didn't look like we were having fun; this is not how we play. If you just think about having fun, nothing is forced."

One player that didn't play like his usual self was James Harden. The sophomore struggled after the first half of the Washington game.

"I think his best half of basketball was his first half at Washington," said Sendek, "I don't think he played his best basketball in the remaining halves."

The Arizona State head coach was asked if he thought Harden and Pendergraph were wearing down due to playing so many minutes throughout the course of the season. Sendek didn't think that had any affect.

"A lot of teams their best guys have a lot of minutes," said Sendek, "These two guys in the next half year aspire to play in the NBA and they play 48 minutes."

Even though ASU beat Stanford by 30 earlier this season, Sendek knows that the Cardinal are going to pose a much bigger threat the second time around.

"Everything went our way that night," stated Sendek. "It was just one of those games where the score unraveled because all the breaks went our way. As we watched Stanford through the year, we know they are going to be another really tough game. They are coming off a weekend in which they have played really well.

"I just think the Pac 10 is a great conference this year. I get a little chagrined that it doesn't get recognized as that."

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