Sendek, Abbott and Lockett net Pac-10 honors

For some pundits it was obvious that the ASU basketball team would be in rebuilding mode this year. Problem is someone forgot to tell that to Head Coach Herb Sendek and his players. Today, Sendek was named the conference's coach of the year, and ASU's leading scorer Ty Abbott earned a spot on the first-team All-Pac 10 team. Additionally, Trent Lockett was selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.

Sendek, who also won Coach of the Year Award in the MAC (1994-95 at Miami of Ohio) and in the ACC (2003-04 at NC State), is the first ASU coach to receive the Pac-10 Coach of the Year award since Ned Wulk in 1979-80.

The maroon and gold are currently 22-9, and after being selected by the Pac-10 media to finish seventh in the conference they posted a 12-6 record and finished second. This was the highest finish by a Sun Devil team since Wulk's 1980-81 squad who finished 2nd as well.

"I'm certainly flattered," said Sendek following Monday's practice. "It's obviously a team rearward in many respects. Our coaching staff is so heavily relied on, and obviously our players play the game.

"It's flattering, but certainly shared."

Sendek, who led ASU to a 21-13 record in 2007-08, and to a 25-10 mark in 2008-09, became only the second Sun Devil skipper to guide ASU to three consecutive 20-win campaigns and joins Ned Wulk who achieved that feat between 1961-63.

Shaking off a sophomore slump type of a year, Ty Abbott has stormed back in his junior season to lead his team in scoring with 12.0 points a game. The guard is tied with Rihards Kuksiks for most three point baskets made (122) and is shooting a team best 41.8 percent from that range. The junior is also second on the team with rebounds per game, posting a 4.4 mark.

In Pac-10 play, Abbott finished ninth in scoring (14.7 points per game), 11th in rebounding (5.7 rpg.), ninth in free throw percentage (.818 as he was 36-of-44), fourth in three-point percentage (.411 as he was 53-of-129), second in three-pointers made per game (2.9) and sixth in defensive rebounds per game (5.0).

Sendek commented that Abbott's turnaround is attributed to him embracing the leadership role he assumed this season.

"His voice, his energy level, his command of the team helped pave the way for some individual growth in terms of his play," said Sendek. "He really stepped up in terms of being a leader for the team. I think the byproduct of that was all of a sudden his play was also right in step."

"It's an honor to be mentioned with all the great guys in this league right now," said Abbott. "It's been a long way, a good journey and I'm excited about it. But now we have a game Thursday and we're trying to get some wins in this (Pac-10) tournament."

Last year at this time, the turnaround in Abbott's game was underway and some of his best performances came during the team's post-season part of the schedule. He admitted that this did bridge into the 2009-10 campaign.

"After last year I wanted to set high expectations for myself," said Abbott, "and it was good to achieve them. The ending of last year was definitely a good building block for me and just gave me a level of where I needed to be coming into this year and I was able to get to that point again."

Trent Lockett played in all of ASU's 31 games to date, and got the starting five nod in 15 of them. The freshman guard averaged 7.0 points and 3.6 rebounds a game and shot 75-of-155 (.484) from the floor. He posted double digit scoring numbers in five Pac-10 contests, and displayed impressive athleticism on both ends of the court in his inaugural Pac-10 year.

"He had a tremendous first year," said Sendek. "I think playing on a team that has had some measure of success helped. He had a big part in our team, and he played an important role and his efforts were recognized."

No incoming freshman has arrived on campus earlier than Lockett, who already stepped foot in Tempe back in mid-May and actually flew back for his graduation prom and back to ASU in the following month.

"Me and cocah set a goal to be on the All-Freshman team so it feels good to reach that goal," recalled Lockett. "It was exciting to work hard over the summer and obtain that goal and now that I have it it's a good feeling. It makes you feel better after working hard.

"I don't think I'm the player now that I was when I was coming in. I worked on a lot of aspects of my game and I look forward to doing it this summer too. I'm a little more perimeter oriented and I think it's a lot of mental (improvement). When you work on you game over the summer you have more confidence in that aspect so if you do have a little rough patch you're still able to go to towards that part of your game."

In addition to those three members of the team, senior Derek Glasser earned honorable mention honors, and fellow classmate center Eric Boateng was an all-defensive team honorable mention.

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