The State of SUN DEVIL BASKETBALL: Balancing the Books at The Bank in Tempe  
By Peter Bouloukos,
April 8, 2019 8:10 PM

This 4-Part series is an honest and clear look at Arizona State Sun Devil Basketball. Read on for Parts 1 and 2!

In business and life, evaluating objectives and outcomes on a daily basis is one key to understanding what’s working and what’s not, and ultimately being successful. After all, habits define our choices and all outcomes, yet often good meaning people develop blind spots.  

Whether it’s a college team, a multimillion-dollar organization or a small mom-and-pop shop on Mill Avenue, reviewing how things are going and being clear about where things stand is essential when deciding what to do tomorrow, next week, or next year.  

In 2006 former North Carolina State Basketball Coach Herb Sendek sparked life into a flailing Sun Devil program and his “Herbivores” started showing up to ASU home games.  In 9 seasons in Tempe, Coach Herb was an honorable 159-137. Sendek inherited a pig in lipstick to put it gently, going 8-22 his first season at the helm.  In year two, he was 21-13 winning two NIT games before falling to the talented Billy Donovan coached Florida Gators.

In 2008-2009 sophomore guard James Harden averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists per game leading the Sun Devils to a 25-10 record with one of Arizona State’s stingiest defenses to ever take the floor (60.5 ppg).  Arizona State scored 69 points per game providing an almost 9 point differential per match.

In the 2009 NCAA tournament, Arizona State (6) defeated Temple (11) 66-57.  Harden was locked down, shooting 1-8 from the field, finishing 6-9 from the free throw line and 9 points.  Senior center Jeff Ayers and Junior guard Jeff Glaser carried Sun Devil Basketball over the Owls with 22 points each.



On March 22, 2009, the Sun Devils faced Syracuse (3) in the NCAA Round of 32. Harden struggled again, shooting 2-10 from the field finishing with 10 points.  Harden was a career 3-18 from the field in the big dance. Arizona State lost to Syracuse 78-67.  Sun Devil Basketball landed 19th in the AP Poll, and it is the last time ASU finished a season with a National Ranking.

In 2009-2010 Arizona State was 22-11.  Losing the first game of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament cost them an NCAA invite.  The Sun Devils lost to Jacksonville 67-66 in the first round of the NIT. This was followed by two dismal years for the program going 22-40.  Coach Sendek struggled with recruiting and the results were hard to ignore.

In 2012-2013 Coach Sendek brought his team back from the depths with a dynamic coaching effort, they finished 22-13 and again won a game in the NIT.  The next year (2013-2014) the Sun Devils lost to Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by 2 points, 85-83.  Texas lost to Michigan in the next round. 

In 2014-2015 Coach Sendek was terminated after making it into the NIT where they defeated Kevin Ollie’s Connecticut Huskies 68-61. Sun Devil Senior Forward Shaquille McKissic dropped 22 that night, but Arizona State lost in overtime to Richmond 76-70 in the second round.  ASU Freshman Guard Tra Holder had 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in 42 minutes against Richmond, a sign of things to come.

With the firing of Coach Sendek Ray Anderson had started a University-wide movement in the Athletic Department and needed a big name.  Inexperienced head coach Bobby Hurley from Buffalo was the second choice to Duke’s assistant Coach Jeff Capel.  


Average play and mediocre results ultimately defeated Herb Sendek who had a 54 percent winning percentage?  But here we are four years later, and in this time Sun Devil Basketball has a 56 winning percentage. That’s a half-percent improvement each season! This is not exactly the level of progress we expected, is it?  

“We are here to set a new standard, to make regular trips to the NCAA Tournament and regularly compete for conference and national titles,” -Bobby Hurley April 2015.

Conference Titles? National Titles?      

Under Coach Hurley, Arizona State has 40 Conference losses, no Conference Titles, and are 2-4 in the Pac-12 Tournament.  Coach Hurley is 2-6 against Sean Miller at the University of Arizona and 2-4 against Larry Krystowiak at Utah to name a few of the key match-ups where we struggle.

The fact is, Sun Devil Basketball has zero wins in the NCAA Tournament’s “Field of 64.”  Coach Hurley is 1-1 over the past two years in the “First Four” play-in games to the tournament.  If Arizona State’s Coach had any other name than “Hurley” on the office door, what would we all be saying right now?  40 Conference losses and all…

Coach Hurley’s teams have been Jekyll or Hyde since his first game as ASU loses to Sacramento State 66-63 on November 13th, 2015 where his guards shot 2-17 from 3-point range.  

Let’s take a look back…

Part 2 – The State of SUN DEVIL BASKETBALL: Balancing the Books at The Bank in Tempe


Continued on pg. 2

Pages: 1 2

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