One of the things we want to do as part of this summer-long series is to take a look at where each program is at this point in its history, what realistic expectations fans should have of their program, and what it would take for the program to take the next step on the ladder of college basketball’s hierarchy.
For Arizona State, the last two seasons have really been a low point for the program. While ASU has not historically been a paragon of NCAA basketball success, they’ve at least been a middle-of-the-road team in their conferences on a regular basis, dating all the way back to the Border Conference in the 1950s. But the last two seasons have been the worst pair of consecutive seasons since a 1970 record of 4-22 dragged down the seasons around it. Yet, at the same time, only twice in the school’s history has its basketball program won 20 games or more in three consecutive seasons, a feat Herb Sendek’s teams completed just two seasons ago (the other streak occurred between 1960 and 1963). In fact, only one other time in its history has the team posted even back-to-back 20-win seasons (1979-80 and 80-81, behind guys like Byron Scott, Lafayette “Fat” Lever, Kurt Nimphius and Alton Lister). In short, the Sendek era has represented (just about) the best of times and the worst of times in Sun Devil basketball.