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Is this Coach Sendek's final season in Tempe? Has his seat become hot enough for incoming vice president of athletics Ray Anderson to look elsewhere?
Anderson has a strong NFL pedigree as the league's former executive vice president of football operations, yet his academic resume is even more astounding. Anderson received his undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford University and his juris doctor from Harvard Law School.
Sendek is in his eighth season as the head coach of the Sun Devils, with a record of 135-113 (.544) and a 58-78 (.426) Pac-12 record. Before his tenure at Arizona State, Sendek took the North Carolina State Wolfpack to five consecutive NCAA tournaments yet has only taken the Sun Devils once—five years ago.
The imminent departure of the teams' top three players at the end of the season signals an urgency for Sendek to not only get into the NCAA tournament, but also to make a deep run if he hopes to impress Anderson and the fanbase at this football-first university.
The Sun Devils have a .6020 RPI, good enough for No. 41 according to ESPN's foremost bracketologist, Joe Lunardi. They have a 1-2 record against teams in the Top 25, defeating Colorado and losing to UCLA and No. 1 Arizona, and are 4-5 against teams with RPIs in the Top 100. They do not have any bad losses and are a remarkable 11-1 at home this season, with only a conference-opening blemish to Washington on their record.
Sendek's coaching staff is remarkable in their own right. Associate head coach Eric Musselman has coached in college, the D-League and the NBA over his 20-year career. Assistant coach Larry Greer has been an assistant coach in the NBA as well as a scout to go along with several years coaching in the college ranks. Assistant coach Stan Johnson is the newest member of the coaching staff, with 10 years of college coaching experience.
Final verdict: With the play of Carson, Bachynski and Marshall, the Sun Devils will spend February on the proverbial bubble with games against No. 1 Arizona, a home and away series against Oregon and a road trip to the always-difficult venues of Utah and Colorado.
Nobody expects them to beat Arizona, but sweeping Oregon and Colorado will be great items on their tournament resume.
David A. Bowers is the featured columnist for Arizona State Athletics, follow him on Twitter at @asudave.