Arizona State Week: Q&A With House of SparkyPosted by rtmsf on June 15th, 2012
It’s been a fun week of Arizona State basketball coverage here on the Pac-12 Microsite, so we’ve decided to close it out with opinions from an insider. Cory Williams from House of Sparky agreed to kindly join us for a Q&A on the state of the ASU program. If you’re reading this, you no doubt already know the great work that they do over there covering the Sun Devils, but consider this a friendly reminder.
RTC: Sun Devil fans seem to be in one of two camps right now with regards to the basketball program: the optimists and the pessimists. Optimists see the addition of Jahii Carson and the rest of the newcomers as a new beginning for the program. Pessimists see the rampant roster turnover as a sign of something rotten at the core of the program. Is one of those viewpoints more likely to be right than the other?
HOS: I will be honest – there haven’t been too many optimists in the ASU basketball camp in the past few years. There have simply been too many defections from this program while the results on the court continue to suffer. These past several seasons, the Pac-12 has been a shadow of its former self. UCLA and Arizona were both struggling to live up to high expectations, presenting a rare opportunity for the Sun Devils: Win some games and build serious momentum in both recruiting and prestige. Instead of an experience-laden roster, however, ASU seems to have complete roster turnover every season. Instead of learning from our mistakes, a new crop of kids have to relearn them again one season later. Instead of developing boys into adults, we have a tendency to give up on them a little too quickly. Jahii Carson might be the start of a new day for the Sun Devils, but we cannot ignore that he will only do as much as the rest of the roster allows. If the talent cannot measure up, Carson will struggle to lead this team to any significant improvement.
HOS:I sure hope so. In a very strange turn of events, now-ousted AD Lisa Love gave Herb Sendek a contract extension during last season. I can appreciate the necessity of coach stability, but at some point you have to ask what your return on investment is. Since James Harden left for the NBA, there hasn’t been much to cheer for in Tempe. You can point to the lack of fan support and the struggle to piece together wins on the court as primary reasons that ASU continues to have a hard time recruiting top-notch talent, but that line of thinking is flawed. Build an attractive offensive system that promotes and develops your talent, not an offensive scheme that holds back your most athletic players in favor of rigidity.RTC:The state of Arizona is not exactly the most fertile recruiting grounds for college basketball, and with UofA clearly the flagbearer in the state, what are reasonable expectations for the ASU basketball program over the long haul? And, is Herb Sendek the guy to lead that charge into the future?HOS: I don’t think Kansas is a particularly strong recruiting state either, and they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves on the national stage. There’s no reason as to why, without the right philosophy, a school like Arizona State cannot be a consistent NCAA Tournament participant. Tempe is one of the best college towns in the country. There are endless things to do within a short radius, and more beautiful women than you can imagine. The team also has a brand new practice facility called the Weatherup Center, an attractive space for player development. Any lack of success over the long haul is a failing of the coaching staff, because all the pieces are in place. We also say the same thing about the football program, so it’s hard to determine what is holding the athletic department back.
RTC: What is the story with all the transfers – 12 now over the last four years? Is this just a string of bad luck, or does this reflect badly on Sendek?
HOS: Herb Sendek must take the lion’s share of the blame for the amount of transfers at ASU. I’ve never been around a program with so many transfers. For years, Sendek has had unrelenting commitment to his 2-3 zone on defense and a plodding offensive scheme. The players he recruited did not fit into the mold he had in place, and Sendek did not change his style to fit the personnel. It’s not like everyone who transferred was incapable of contributing to the team. Victor Rudd transferred to South Florida after the 2009-10 season, and became an important member of a Bulls team that won its first NCAA Tournament game. Christian Polk left ASU after 2007-08 to play for UTEP, helping the Miners get to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10 and the NIT in 2010-11. Sendek remains adamant that society is one of the main reasons as to why his players transfer, blaming a generation that seems too focused on getting where they want to go as quickly as possible without hard work. But this mindset is troubling, as his sole responsibility is to nurture and help these young men mature. By shirking this responsibility, you have to worry as to whether he has lost touch with the youth of today.
RTC: Jahii Carson has yet to play a game for the Sun Devils, but it seems that Sendek is putting the fate of the program into his hands. Can this freshman live up to the weight of the program’s expectations for him?
HOS: ASU has to put all its eggs in this basket. Give him the playing time, and tailor the offense to exploit his strengths. With a capable center in Jordan Bachynski and some mature guards surrounding him, Carson should be able to step in immediately and provide some excitement to a program that has been in the doldrums for several seasons. While short, Carson is explosive with the ball and is a playmaker by trade. He will find open men and put the ball where it needs to be, while also being able to create his own shot. Given the right offense and the right players around him, Carson will help ASU win at least 16 games this upcoming season. If not, Sendek might be done in Tempe.