Three years after Arizona State last ran a traditional Princeton offense, Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek said he's still dealing with the stigma on the recruiting trail.
"It's actually kind of funny," Sendek said told the Arizona Republic. "We ran it my last year at NC State and we ran our own version of it. What people typically like to do is they like to say we ran it and we played slow. Yet my last year at NC State, we were in the top three in the league in scoring with Duke and North Carolina. And now we're not running it at all ... It's actually amazing. (In recruiting), schools really try to use it against us."
Sendek certainly has a right to be upset if other coaches are suggesting he still runs Pete Carril's classic Princeton offense, but there's no denying Arizona State's pace has been plodding in recent years.
Since Sendek arrived in Tempe four years ago, the Sun Devils haven't averaged 70 points a game in any season and they managed only 66.7 a game last season. Opponents held them to under 60 points in four of their final five losses including a painful 47-37 setback at USC in which Arizona State broke a school record for fewest points in a game set just three years earlier under Sendek.
In Sendek's defense, his teams have consistently won because the systems he has run have typically matched the talent he's had on his roster.
He tried to coax a few extra victories out of a talent-starved team in his debut season by playing a match-up zone defense and Princeton offense that hid his team's lack of athleticism and shortened games as much as possible. Even with better players like Ty Abbott, James Harden and Derek Glasser, the Sun Devils typically have only pushed the ball with a numbers advantage because their guards still lacked the speed, quickness and athleticism of a Washington, Arizona or USC.
Part of the reason Sendek may be airing his grievances now about how other coaches are portraying his program is because Arizona State finally may have the personnel to play at a higher tempo.
The slow-and-steady Glasser has graduated. Speedier guards Jamelle McMillan and junior college transfer Brandon Dunson will take over at the point. And a deep and talented incoming freshman class is set to arrive headlined by top 30 guard Keala King and slashing ex-Duke signee Carrick Felix.
A running, pressing Arizona State team in 2010-11? We'll see.