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Ray Anderson looks to the future of ASU men’s basketball

The Sun Devils are now in the market for a new head basketball coach

Ray Anderson- Sendek fired press conference

ASU athletic director Ray Anderson talks about firing men's basketball coach Herb Sendek at a press conference on March 24, 2015. 


Hours after informing Herb Sendek that he would not be retained as ASU’s men’s basketball coach, athletic director Ray Anderson spoke to the media about the decision to move in another direction.

“It was time to upgrade the program,” Anderson said. “We came here with the promise that, in all of our sports, we were going to work to be elite and best in class, and it’s time to be able to do that in men’s basketball.”

Sendek had been the coach at ASU for nine seasons, making two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and was fresh off his fourth trip to the NIT. Anderson said he expects better from men’s basketball and letting go of Sendek will help do that.

“We’re going to better the program,” Anderson said. “We’re going to give this basketball program a chance to compete consistently for championships. That’s one of the things we promised that we wanted to accomplish here.”

Despite what many outside believed, Anderson said that ASU’s first-round exit in the Pac-12 Tournament did not force this decision.

“It did not, and neither did the Arizona game,” Anderson said. “You take the whole body of work and then you evaluate, hopefully objectively and unemotionally. The USC game was a disappointment, no question, but the Arizona game was a moment of elation, no question. But when you take everything in total, I didn’t see the performance and the progress that would give me confidence that we were going to get better soon enough.”

Anderson said one of the first things he did after meeting with Sendek was meeting with the current roster.

“I already met with our current players today because I think it’s important they be able to sit down and, in the same room, interact and be able to have a discussion and answer their questions about why are we doing this and what is the way forward,” Anderson said. “We’ve already done that because we want them to know that this is your program, this is partly to make their experience a better one for the time they have here.”

Since the news became public Tuesday morning, two players, Lindsey Drew and Brendan Bailey, re-opened their recruitment due to the change in leadership.

ESPN reported that ASU has offered its head coaching vacancy to Duke assistant Jeff Capel, but Anderson strongly refuted those rumors.

“One thing I know, having been an agent, is there’s a lot of speculation out there,” Anderson said. “And agents are certainly trying to position their clients, but that is absolutely not true. We have not hired anybody. We have not offered anybody. We haven’t talked to anybody.”

But Anderson does have the characteristics of his ideal coach in mind, and it is someone who can generate a buzz around the program that hasn’t been there recently.

“Very frankly, I’m looking for someone who can come in here and provide electricity and fire and sparks and really ignite the thought that Arizona State University men’s basketball can be really dynamic,” Anderson said. “I’m looking for someone who is a dynamic recruiter. I’m looking for someone who is a dynamic developer of basketball talent. I’m looking for someone to come in here and energize the people who want ASU basketball to be really electric, to get those people really excited about participating and investing and coming out to support the program.”

Anderson, who will now be forced to make his second big hire of his tenure, said that the takeaway from the move should be the fact that Sun Devil Athletics is moving in a new direction and, if expectations are not met, there will be changes.

“The status quo and being mediocre is not acceptable here,” Anderson said. “We didn’t come here to be ordinary; we came here to be extraordinary.”

 

Reach the reporter at mtonis@asu.edu or follow @Tonis_The_Tiger on Twitter.

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