Quotes from Herb Sendek's Press Conference
Oct. 19, 2006
Opening Statement... 'Thank you for joining us this afternoon. It is great getting everyone together at this exciting time of the year. When basketball practice starts has always been a fun experience for me. I've really enjoyed working together with our team through out the fall and through the first four days of practice. Our guys are really eager to listen and to learn. They have worked exceptionally hard. And I've really been impressed with their character. I think we have a collection of terrific gentleman who are really going to be fun to work with.'
On being away from Arizona for recruiting...'I definitely have a collection of frequent flyer miles. July and September are traditionally heavy recruiting months for men's basketball. So we have been busy like all schools trying to get out and lay the foundation for our school.'
On his perspective of the team...'After four days of practice, I don't really know if we are a team yet. We are probably a collection of individuals who all dress alike. We have a lot of work to do before we can call ourselves a cohesive unit. Guys are working really hard. They want to improve and are eager to learn. These are the kind of guys that are fun to work with.'
On Jeff Pendergraph...'The most striking feature that I've noticed with Jeff is that he is a great ambassador for our team and for our university. He is a consummate gentleman and he represents us in an extraordinary way. On the court, I know he is a man who had an outstanding freshman season but who really cares about getting better and improving. I've been very impressed with what I've witnessed so far.'
On Sylvester Seay...'Most freshmen have an up and down first year. That first year can be a real grind. It takes a tremendous amount of 'stick-to-it'-ness though the peaks and valleys that a first year can present.'
On selling the program to the team...'I really haven't gone out of my way to sell them [on the program]. I've just tried to present myself as I am and share the ideas I have for our program. I really haven't found myself in the position to convince them or sell then anything. They have been eager to listen and to learn and anxious to find out what we are going to do. I think they've readily accepted it.'
On the play of the current team...'I think we are very much a work in progress. We are going to be extremely challenged to be ready early in the season with less than four weeks to install and implement an entirely new system. It is good to have all of us operating at great efficiency to be ready early in the season. It used to be we'd start the first college basketball game on the Friday before Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. Now we start November the 13th tip off. That takes a good two weeks off what we used to do back in the day. With the new team, not just three or four new freshman, the day just doesn't seem to have enough hours in it for us.'
On goals for the season...'We want to improve from every day out and we want to learn from every circumstance. I don't know if it serves us any great value to set arbitrary goals in terms of wins and establish numbers for ourselves. We want to win every game like any competitor does obviously. But I think right now our focus has to be on getting better and doing the best we can on becoming a team as we try to learn a new system.'
On recruiting...'We are always putting our best foot forward and selling the university. The unique advantage that we have here is that it is a real team effort, not just a new coach or the assistant coaches. Certainly we have our roles to play but it's a collective effort. There are so many people that have an important steak in recruiting right now, that any of the success we enjoy has to be shared by so many people. Dr. Crow has stepped forward to give us a hand. Lisa Love has been terrific. Our academic coach, Sabrina Thomas, has been superb. The people who take care of our facilities and our grounds have been outstanding. We have had tremendous presentations by our faculty when young men and their families have visited campus. I mean the beat goes on and on and on. People are pitching in and helping us recruit effectively with in the rules.'
On implementing a more in depth offense...'Our system requires a more steep learning curve right out of the gates. I think at the beginning it tends to be more challenging for the guys. It is very analogous to riding a bike. It is hard for any of us to learn how to ride a bike with out falling down a few times. But once you learn how to ride a bike you get on and you don't think about how to ride. It is not something you have to process. You just do it. I think it is very similar to our offense. You probably have to fall a few times. But one you get it, its like breathing. You aren't thinking about it.'
On strength and conditioning...'We are still are in the early stages of conditioning. I don't want our team peaking on November 18th. It is a long season and I want to be as fresh as we can be in February and March as well. We want to build gradually. Obviously we have some early games in November we have to account for. But the college basketball season is incredibly long and it takes everything everyone has. It is really a consuming endeavor. To be honest with you, I don't think I would want them to peak tonight.'
On role models and inspirations...'I don't know who you will compare me to. Hopefully you will make some favorable comparisons along the way. I was really blessed, when I was growing up, to be surrounded by teachers and coaches and family members who were the world's greatest role models. Starting with my father, who was a teacher and a coach, and extending to the people I played for and also coaches in the area that I used to go and watch. If you knew me, it was no surprise I became a coach. These people were so extraordinary; they made such a difference in people's lives. It was almost imposible for me to want to do anything else. It was easy for me to say I wanted to be like Coach Shay, the head coach at Allegheny Community College. It wasn't so much the people on Sports Center or the ABC game of the week that I identified with, but it was the people who knew my name and who were helping me with my jump shot, that meant the most to me. Those people have been mentors and most importantly continue to be my mentors. I continue to learn from them. Obviously, Coach Rick Pitino gave me my first job coaching at the college level and I tried to learn the most I could from him at both Providence and Kentucky.'
On Serge Angounou...'I love Serge. Serge is really a good guy, as you know first hand. He has a lot of gifts. I know he has battled injuries through out his whole career that have probably have hampered him to some degree. We need Serge to have a stellar senior year. He is a very important player for us and just a good team guy. He always seems to have the interests of his team mates at heart.'
Antwi Atuahene...'He is a great communicator. He is always talking and always trying to pick some guy up. He plays with terrific intensity. I've really liked what I've seen of Antwi early. Like Serge he will be a very important player for us.'
Competing with the major players in the Pac-10...'I think the most important thing we can do is compete with ourselves. We have to focus on the men in the mirror before we can effectively compete with anyone else. Usually if you are doing that the proper way, it takes all of you. We need to be focused more on Arizona State and that alone will have our cup running over.'
On Pac-10 standings...'I'm still trying to figure our team out, let alone the other nine. What typically happens in college basketball, the standings aren't even determined until the last week in the season. I know in the ACC it seemed like, when you went into the last week of the season, you could finish anywhere from third to tenth. That's college basketball. Right now as mundane and blah as it sounds, we are trying to have a really good practice this afternoon. And if we do that, that chicken that we eat a little bit later will taste better. If we have two good practices in a row we'll eat mashed potatoes.'
On conditioning...'We have some guys right now who are trying to get in better shape. It's not how many wind sprints you run but its getting your body fit so it can perform better for you. We are going to lower our body fat percent. We are going to eat healthier. We are trying to do our part to help them with that.'
On the immediate impact of the freshmen...'We are going to rely on our freshmen to give us important playing time. Everyone who wears the jersey will have to be prepared every night. You can't wear your jersey but forget to put your shorts on under your warm up because everyone on the bench could get into the game this year. I think our freshmen are going to have to ready to hit the floor running and in some cases will have to be baptized by fire.'
On the look of this years team...'I don't think this year's team will look like next years team. I don't think a team three years from now will like next year's team. Every year you have different strengths and different players and it is always to your advantage to put them in position to be successful and possible. They system provides you with principles that are universal. Once you lay that foundation of fundamentals you are able to massage certain aspects of it to meet a certain individual's strengths. Eventually we want to have a team that plays fluidly together, that can pass the ball, that helps each other be better players. A team that hopefully plays the right way. We are a long way from that today, but that is our goal.'