Arizona State men's basketball is heading into its eighth season under the guidance of head coach Herb Sendek. The team is coming off a 21-12 record and an NIT appearance in the 2012-13 campaign, but Sendek expects better results from the group this season.
"It's a great time of year. There's a lot of energy in the gym. Everybody has a sense of a new beginning," the head coach said on The Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta Thursday. "We have a high-character team with a great deal of spirit, so practice is a lot of fun right now."
The Sun Devils put up 71.4 points per game last year, good for 66th in the nation, and Sendek said they have no plans to slow down the tempo with star point guard Jahii Carson at the helm for one more year.
"We just felt like with (Carson) returning for a second year, a year under his belt, along with some increased depth, it would be a good idea for us to pick up the pace even more," Sendek said. "So to operationalize that for our team, we coined the phrase, '3-12-24.' We'd like the ball over half court in three seconds; we'd like to get a good shot on goal within 12 seconds; and we practice with a 24-second shot clock (rather than 35) to help establish that kind of style of play."
The eighth-year Sun Devils coach said those numbers aren't absolute -- for example, he said he wouldn't want a bad shot for the sole purpose of beating the 12-second mark -- but they reinforce goals for the team's offense.
Sendek added that it isn't easy for the average athlete to play in such a system.
"It is really hard to play this way. You've got to be in supreme mental and physical condition," he said. "And at the same time, when you're given that much freedom, it has to be balanced with responsibility."
He said selflessness is the "bedrock" of this system. He also said the style of play helps with recruiting, drawing talented players to the program.
"It's a great sell in prospects' homes. There's no doubt about that. There's nobody who raises their hand and says, 'I'd like to play slow,'" Sendek said. "So I do think our style of play -- the Arizona State basketball brand -- right now is very appealing."