"I think our guys are disappointed," said Sendek. "They know they didn't play their best. But the one thing about our group, and it has been this way really since I've been at Arizona State, we have guys that are resilient. They look at it, they learn from it and they move on. They do that win or lose.
"We get back to work. We ask ourselves ‘what can we learn from it?' and we move on. That's one thing I really like about this group a great deal. They really are a ‘together' bunch. Consistently they really have given good effort. Even in the games we have lost, our team has been terrifically competitive."
Senior Derek Glasser echoed his coach's sentiments, and remarked that the team's psyche is fine after their recent loss.
"I think guys have been rejuvenated," Glasser commented, "and we know what is at stake this weekend, especially to stay in the race for first (place).
The proverbial one game at a time mantra of his coach is an approach that Glasser feels serves he and his team very well during difficult times such as these.
"It helps us turn the page,' said Glasser. "Guys were really upset. Especially losing at home to U of A. But with his approach ‘next possession, next day' we watched the film and put it behind us. His big thing is no matter what the outcome of the game is, play your hardest and move on to the next game.
"We are going to come back hungry and ready to play."
Struggles down low
After some solid showings in non-conference play, Eric Boateng's performance in the Pac-10 slate has been a reason for concern. The center is averaging just 5.5 points per game against league opponents this year and for the sake of an offensive balance Sendek hopes that his team's interior play will improve from here on out.
"It's like running the ball in football," explained Sendek. "You can be a great passing team, but every now and then you need three yards and a cloud of dust no matter who you are. The ability to score inside is important in basketball and when we are able to do that, we are a much more difficult team to defend just like anybody else.
" If you're not getting baskets around the cup and everything you have to do has to be a jump shot, the game becomes more difficult on offense. No question about it."
Sendek doesn't believe that jump starting his senior center requires a revamp of the offense, but rather the commitment to continue and feed Boateng in the paint.
"I have confidence that Eric is capable of making plays," claimed Sendek. "He has done it in the past and he's our guy. It's important that we believe in him."
Figuring out the Cal offense
Cal will come to Tempe sitting atop the Pac-10 standings, and their ranking is in large part due to the play of senior Jerome Randle who averages 18.7 points a game. Sendek called the Golden Bears' star one of the very best point guards in college basketball.
"He's crazy good," acknowledged Sendek. "I don't know how many guys in the country are better than him. You surround him on either wing with two other seniors, (Patrick) Christopher and (Theo) Robertson, that's a lethal perimeter. They're a veteran team with outstanding personnel. They are well deployed and are very difficult to defend."
Sendek confessed that he didn't know how to slow down Randle, and quipped that petitioning the Pac-10 to play six players and double team Randle could possibly help.
"There's not an easy answer to that," said Sendek. "He's so quick, he goes by you, he can shoot from the sunburst (i.e. mid-court) and he'll take shots from depths you wouldn't think anybody would try a shot from. You'll think ‘that's not a good shot' until it goes into the basket. He's ripping off of screen left and right, so he's deployed so well.
"We have our hands full."
Glasser recalled that his team was able to contain Randle fairly well in a win last year, and will naturally use the same approach on Thursday. Nonetheless, he and his teammates are wary about Randle's range and how the zone defense needs to accordingly adjust to him.
"He probably has the highest pickup point of any game that we'll face all year," explained Glasser. "Literally he'll take just two dribbles inside half court (before he shoots)…he did twice here last year and made one where he shot from 28, 30 feet.
"In the film room they (the coaches) said ‘why don't you get a hand on him?' and I said ‘he's at half court – you want me to go all the way there and get him?' and they said ‘yes.' So when we play him again I'll take note of that."
Walker shining in expanded role
Jamelle McMillan has been making progress with his plantar fasciitis injury to his foot, but is likely to miss Thursday's contest (his third consecutive game) according to Sendek. This will once again open the door for Demetrius Walker who played well in 18 minutes of action versus Arizona.
"He's been playing the wing and the point, something that obviously during the season he hasn't had a lot of minutes doing," said Sendek.
Glasser has been impressed with the freshman's athleticism and his play on both ends of the floor thus far, and sees a great future for the former Phoenix St. Mary's standout.
"I think he has a lot to offer for us right now," said Glasser. "With his ability to get to the basket I think he will only get better with the more minutes he gets. With his athletic ability it's hard not to be a good defender. He's so quick and can jump so high – his defensive potential is limitless.
"It's a tough defense to grasp in a short amount of time and with not getting that much reps with the first team…he's been thrown into the fire a little more now and I think he'll keep on responding game in and game out."