Sendek solid, but not scary

Arizona State has a new head coach. Herb Sendek is an accomplished coach who has been successful in the ACC. He seems like a perfectly good fit in Temp, but he is not the type to instill fear in the rest of the Pac-10.

Maybe it is the fact that Sendek is unassuming. Maybe it is the fact that he's low-key. Maybe he's just safe.

That's the problem, Sendek is safe. In the past few seasons the league has added Ben Howland, Lorenzo Romar and Tim Floyd. Young coaches like Jay John, Trent Johnson and Tony Bennett have loads of upside.

Sendek is the height of consistency. Not a bad thing, not by any means, but he doesn't seem like the kind of coach who would send shockwaves through the conference.

Howland and Romar have sent shockwaves. Romar has been able to amass great talent in Seattle in just a few short years. He has rebuilt the program and seems poised to keep the Huskies as a legit top-25 team for years to come.

Howland has been even better. While he hasn't had the recruiting splash that Romar has, he has been able to rapidly build the program. Howland has quickly established himself as one of the elite coaches in college basketball. Just three years into his reign in Westwood, Howland has the Bruins in the national championship game. If he can get his young talent to return next season, the Bruins could be a favorite to return to the Final Four. Floyd has quickly re-built USC after Henry Bibby left things in shambles. Floyd not only had to infuse a host of new players, but restore the confidence of the players that Bibby played mind games with throughout their career.

Floyd had the Trojans calculating how they could get into the NCAA's with just over a month left in the season. They wound up sliding down the stretch, but things are better in Troy.

Floyd signed a nice class for next season and already has verbal commitments for 2007 and 2008. Despite UCLA's run, he is already tapping into the strong Southern California recruiting scene and generating some excitement in football country.

Sendek is a winner. In 13 seasons as a head coach he has won 64.7% of his games and been to the postseason 12 times. A very nice resume. In way of comparison, Lute Olson arrived in Tucson with a 65.3% winning percentage.

While the resume is good, very good, there are concerns. He has never been able to make NC State the big dog. Duke, UNC, Maryland and even Wake Forrest have been at elite levels in Sendek's run in Raleigh. The Wolfpack have been good, consistently good, but they have not been great. They have been to five straight NCAA Tournaments, but never past the Sweet 16.

Of course five straight tournaments would be the thing of legend for ASU. AT NC State it put him on the hot seat. Fans out there were still basking in the glow of the Valvano title in the early 80's and expected more from Sendek. Good was not good enough.

The big question remains, just what can Sendek do in Tempe? Can you really build a program there. Bill Frieder brought an impressive resume to Arizona State and never made the Devils a power. He made them a decent team, but not much more.

Can Sendek do any better? Can Sendek leap frog the likes of Olson, Romar and Howland when he couldn't leap frog Skip Prosser, Roy Williams and Coach K.

The Devils made a safe, sound, solid hire. Sendek is good, but again, I doubt he can make them great.

Put it this way, would you want Sendek as a successor to Lute Olson?

ASU probably needed to make a huge splash. They went after Jamie Dixon of Pitt, one of the hot young coaches in college basketball. That would have made coaches around the Pac-10 sit up and take notice.

Had they wanted a coach with a little baggage, they could have made a run at Bob Huggins. There is no doubt that Huggins could have brought some attention to ASU both good and bad.

They also looked at Rick Majerus. The former Utah coach has the name, and thanks to ESPN, the recognition to make an impact quickly. The problem is that in all likelihood Majerus was a short term solution for ASU.

Sendek will make ASU better. He's too good of a coach not to and you should be able to recruit to Tempe. Of course, he's used to coaching in the basketball hotbed of North Carolina, not apathetic Phoenix. He had better facilities, a better recruiting base and a better television contract. Now he can sell better weather and the chance to build something new.

Sendek was a good hire. ASU will be better, but in the end he is not scaring anyone.

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