Quotes From Coach Sendek's Weekly Press Conference

Dec. 15, 2008

Coach Herb Sendek

Thoughts on the 76 tournament:
'Most certainly had a great desire to win the tournament. I thought we played well the first and third game, but we weren't nearly as pleased with our effort in the middle game. Now it's time to move forward. We have two important games on the horizon, here Thursday and Sunday, before we break for final exams.'

On distractions right now, with finals and the holidays coming up:
'I don't really think about it along those lines. Our guys have been pretty engaged, throughout the semester. They have exams and academic responsibilities all year, so that is not unique to finals week. If you do a good job chopping wood from the first day of school right through the semester, stay on top of things, then things don't become as overwhelming at the end.'

On his satisfaction with the team thus far:
'There are so many different categories that you could be relatively pleased in one area and not in another, and the next day, those two things could switch places. It is so fluid. I don't know if the team occupies a static position. It's constantly changing. We saw that in the three games we just played. Just because we thought we played pretty good defense on Thursday didn't mean we occupied some rung on the ladder and we were incapable of slipping a couple of rungs, because we clearly did the second night. It's just a matter of every time you go out, you have to be prepared to play with great effort, focus and awareness. It's a long season.'

On what type of defenses teams have been playing against the Sun Devils:
'Teams have done different things with us. We have played an unusual amount of teams that are pressured oriented, who have extending the court and pressured us. It probably takes about 10 games before you have gone against a wide enough variety of teams to really have a feel of all the different things you are going to face. In the UTEP game, they were trapping ball screens, which is not necessarily a bad thing for us. That puts two players guarding one; meaning three guys are playing against four of ours. Still, it seems early on we have had a preponderance of pressure applied to our team.'

On the parity in men's basketball today:
'I think the parity is incredible and the balance is amazing. There are good players, good coaches, and good teams across the country is so many different conferences. It gets written off as coaches speak, but you have to be ready to play well or you will be in trouble. It doesn't matter whom your playing. We have seen that rampant in these non-conference games.'

On James Harden's improvement this season:
'I just think he has gotten better across the board. He's probably better in every area and he's a better player than he was a year ago.'

On Ty Abbott's play this season, especially on the defensive end:
'Ty right now is doing a good job on defense for us. I like the fact he is communicating. He competes, and he's doing a terrific job defensive rebounding. He actually leads the team in that area right now. He's vocal in practice and is active. Ty is a smart player, both offensively and defensively; he knows what's going on. He is never caught out of position because he doesn't know where to be. He sees the game well and he knows the game well. Even on offense he can probably tell you where every position is supposed to be on every action we have. He picks things up very easily, is doing a much better job of communicating, and has a good, strong athletic body. He has a nice package to be a very good defensive player.'

On the boost that Jeff Pendergraph, fully healthy for the first time this season, provided throughout the tournament:
'We need Jeff playing his best, playing at a high level. That's really important for our basketball team. I thought he really came alive in Anaheim.'

On Jerren Shipp and Eric Boateng's performances thus far, especially in the 76 Classic:
'Jerren has given us really steady play. He is the consumptive utility infielder, the jack-of-all-trades. We plug him in a lot of different places on the floor because he has the wisdom and experience. He has shot the ball well and done a nice job of embracing his role. It's important to have production from your bench. I know everybody wants to start, we get that, but you can only start five guys. Those five guys don't all play forty minutes each, so when you go to your bench, you want there to be production. Jerren has been there given us some good minutes. Eric was very important in our win over UTEP. Jeff was in foul trouble throughout the game and Eric really stepped up. He's moving really well right now, running and moving laterally on defense. That's important for us.'

On Jamelle McMillan's role:
'I don't necessarily view him as a guy coming off the bench. I see him as a guy who is a really integral part of our rotation. Together with Derek, we need outstanding point guard play. Point guard, like quarterback in football, is a really important position. With him and Derek tag-teaming that, we expect a high level of play.'

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