Evolution of SCU in Sendek era

Hoping to avoid clogging up other threads by starting this thread.

It has been charged by “some” that Sendek doesn’t change. Obviously, if you look at his entire career, this is lunacy. But even if you look at just his SCU tenure, it’s just not true.

2016-17 – SCU increased their 3 point rate to 47% of all fields, increasing by 8 percentage points over the previous year. Shooting % improved, shot defense improved, despite the relatively unchanged level of talent and athletic ability (still a bad rebounding team due to that). Assist rate greatly improved. Improved coaching evident.

2017-18 – should be obvious just by looking at the first two months to the rest of the year. An obviously and predictably terrible team in the non-conference. Backed off the 3 point shooting in league play, and focused a lot more on 3-point defense. 2 point defense and rebounding stayed bad, but 3 point defense got a lot better, resulting in more wins. Didn’t give up many 3s in both periods bc of slow tempo (which was slowed even further in league play, to limit chances for our bad rebounding to show up). Good example of coaching a bad team to be about as good as they could be.

2018-19 – Would have been a breakout year if not for the injuries to Feagin and Hauser. Training a freshman shooting guard (even in high school) to be the main ballhandler was one very obvious, though necessary, adjustment. Boosted Justice and Caruso’s minutes in conference play, reducing Martin’s. Gave up a bit of defense to be viable on offense. Emphasis on 3 point defense evident. Did well to finish 8-8 in the league considering the injury losses and subsequent turnover issues.

2019-20 – Much better offense, significantly higher tempo. That might have become a problem when Caruso went down as we went from a decent rebounding team to a bad one. Played Vrankic more like a Princeton-style forward, with more ball distribution responsibility. In the end, couldn’t really make up for Caruso’s loss and 1-2 lollygagging players with their eyes on the exit. Williams’ minutes greatly increased in conference season. So were Bediako and Justice, but no real choice there.

2020-21 – Evolved again to essentially a point-guard-less offense. This was to try to make best use of Carlyle. Vrankic’s role changed again, likely as a result of the lack of practice time and subsequent team-wide shooting issues. Defensively, 3-point line again a strength and a focus. Despite playing 2 forwards (to the chagrin of some who apparently don’t think rebounding matters), rebounding still an issue, and the free-role ballhandling only mitigated to a point, with turnovers a weakness (though probably better than if Carlyle had been handed a traditional point guard role).

Clearly, being able to defend the 3 is a focus area and given the evolution of the game, probably a pretty well-chosen one. It has also served to mitigate the lack of athleticism in the frontcourt (manifesting in several ways).

What needs to improve is athletic ability among the post players. A Josh Martin that just isn’t a zero on offense would be a help. The team he was on was the only decent rebounding team. Another improvement would be ball control and turnovers, and it certainly looks like that should be coming next year. Two years ago wasn’t bad, and certainly part of this issue has been unexpected guard losses in 2019 with injuries and 2021 with the transfers (and probably partly the cuts in practice time).

You’ve put a lot of work in this, and you know a lot about the game/industry. I’ll make a wild inductive leap and say many (but not all) on this board think the program is gravitating in the right direction. I think you threw out a Rumsfeldian aphrorism earlier, and I’d say whether a younger or different coach would be on this same trajectory at a lesser cost in an “unknown unknown.” Hope we can keep Caruso, and barring anymore leakages from the rotation over the last 5-6 games, SCU should be more competitive next year, which might provide 3-4 more wins.

Throwing out GU and BYU, I think Santa Clara should finish no worse than the top half of the remaining 8 teams (including smc). If the Supreme Court rules against the NCAA this week, the college sports landscape will change quite a bit, but probably not for the recruiters. SCU could pay more, although the Jesuit culture at Santa Clara would resist that.

If you get a chance, could you enlghten the great unwashed (namely me) about how/why the transfer portal has mushroomed. Thanks…

I don’t know what the Rumsfeldian aphorism was, and I barely know what that means haha. I know I hope nothing about me is Rumsfeldian. But I think you’re right, I think most of the board is at least leaning that way.

Basically, the transfer thing is partly just the trend started with grad transfers and then no-sit-out transfers and now this freebie year has kicked it up another notch. A lot of players that rather than using the free year as a makeup for the messed up years they’ve dealt with are using it to transfer.

Top half of the remaining 8? So top 6 in the conference? I dunno about every year but consistently, yeah I think that’s a reasonable bar, subject to circumstance (like the year 8-10 was 7th, that’s just how tight the middle of the pack is, and that’s probably how it’s going to be at least for a while).

You guys set a low bar.
Aim low… that way you always accomplish your goals (as worthless as they may be).

Ah, this is the aimless complaining I started this thread for.

But one thing…aim-less. Not aim low. Or worthless. We’ll work on it.

Just an Air Force motto reference. You can work on that.

Or I can, ya know, not.

3 straight winning seasons, low aim or not, is something that hasn’t been accomplished at USC in the last 2 years. Nor 2 straight .600+ seasons.

If you think those are low aims, well then maybe you’ve learned just a little about the true state of the program over the last 15+ years before hiring.

Stagnant… that’s the state of the program over the past 15+ years (Sendek included, of course)

Accomplishing things that are above what has been accomplished in the last two decades is the opposite of that.

What does three straight winning seasons and finishing in the top half of the league get us besides a free bowl of soup at the Cozy restaurant on the Alameda?

For those three straight winning seasons, none of them have a winning record in the league and one has a negative SOS.

Top half finishes?? 6th, 7th, 5th, 7th 4th-T. YAWN. Let’s hand out some participation trophies, juice boxes and little bags of goldfish crackers.

Until the Broncos can perform solidly in a strong out-of-league schedule and they secure a 3rd place finish in league (hell, I might just take a 3rd place league finish), absolutely zero progress has been made.

No matter what other stats or year-by-year analysis caveated with woulda, shoulda, and COVID couldas one compiles, that’s where I stand. Heck, if a fine young man and scoring phenom wouldn’t have made a totally bonehead off the court decision in the winter of 2011, KK might have had three straight 20 win seasons and we wouldn’t be having this tiresome back and forth about how unprecedented three straight winning seasons is.

I’m not calling for anyone’s head, I’m just sayin’ I am sick and tired of not sniffing the top 3 and I am not lowering my bar any lower. Full stop. Flame me all you want and talk all you want about light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ve suffered in this dark basketball wasteland for far too long, so when I see the light, I will believe it.

Just because you don’t want to call it progress doesn’t mean it isn’t. Because it clearly is.

Seems like you are seeing the light, but you don’t believe it.

LOL @ “I don’t want no excuses” but “if losing one kid in 2011”. By that measure, Sendek should get a pass for 2 of the last 3 years. But he won’t, nor does he need one.

Very very true Weave.

3rd out of 10 is like 2nd out of 8, and SCU hasn’t done that in a long, long time. 2006-07 and 1996-97 are the last two finishes in the top 2. Both pre-BYU.

Hoping for that is one thing. Making it an expectation and a barometer is quite a bit less realistic.

Maybe I should change my user name to “6th, 7th, 5th, 7th 4th-T.” And, I pledge that, when the Broncos snag third, I’ll eat my words and change my user name to “3rd–Noob was right!” or “We went .500 in league! I see the light! Heal me Jesus!”.

Can’t deny that 3rd out of 10 is like 2nd out of 8. But frankly, long before you showed up to troll this space, when the league was 8 teams, 2nd out of 8 was the bar (hence the DD to KK and KK to HS changes). So you will have to forgive the likes of me and betterer for our skepticism of your thinly justified “progress.”

If you want to give Sendek a pass for two of the last three years, fine. But then you need to work your way back, year by year, and shoudla, coulda, COVID-woulda KK’s an DD’s tenures. You can’t tout Herb’s progress and not do the same for the others. When you take the time to do that, it’s been a 20-year and still counting ride of mediocrity. Progress…paaaaleeese.

As I said, I am not as hardcore on showing Sendek the door, but I ain’t seeing it or feeling it yet. But, in your world, we are supposed to run to the theatre for movies that rank 6.5 on Rotten Tomatoes just because M. Night Shyamalan is directing. Can you say with a straight face hidden behind your keyboard that you really satisficed with 6th, 7th, 5th, 7th 4th-T (and the latter being with KK’s players??)

If you want me to be all gung-ho on this board because you think my Debbie-Downer attitude is dragging down recruiting or on court performance, just tell me. We can all just easily turn this forum into a Broncollyanna propaganda vehicle.


Well said Weave. I think you reflect the sentiment of most Bronco alumni and fans including beyond this board.

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So spot on Weave.
If only I could have buzzed in earlier… I was going to guess “Alex, what is the reason so few alumni/students attend SCU mens basketball games?”

On a side note M. Night Shyamalan has made so many bad movies I can’t even recall the good ones.

OK, going to give the quote feature a workout here. Also, trigger warning for a reference to a building in whose destruction many lives were lost.

First, all of your points are valid and well stated. I am aware of the past, but it still helps to understand how you see it. OK.

Argentina was once the 4th richest country in the world. Do you think that is still their goal (not that it is at all apparent what Argentina’s goals are, if any)?

Not to mention SCU didn’t really clear that bar very often even in “the old days”. The only times SCU has won the league in the last 60 years were in clusters driven by one recruiting class. Even 2nd place has only happened once since 1996-97. After the Nash years, it was a decade before 2nd was achieved. And before 1994-95, it had been 1 in the previous 6 or 2 in 9. So if that was the bar, it was rarely cleared. This reminds of NC State fans thinking they should be as good as Duke and UNC in the 90s and national title contenders because they won it once on a fluke (and a lot of academic dishonesty) in the 80s. Even 5 straight NCAA bids and 4 top 4 finishes wasn’t enough. Well, they have 5 NCAA bids since, and some of those are tainted by scandal as well.

I don’t. I said that. He doesn’t need it. The last 3 years have been the high water mark of the last two decades without it. Most here seem to acknowledge that, even if they dismiss it.

That’s fair. And I don’t care if people are gung ho or whatever. I just think people should be fair in their discussions, assessments and expectations.

Looking at the 80s and 90s as the expectation is like expecting the rubble of WTC1 to be used to rebuild and made taller than the Burj Khalifa. It doesn’t matter how tall it used it be, bc at this point you’re practically starting completely over. Even before its full demise, WTC1 was only briefly the tallest building anyway, and the Burj Khalifa would dwarf it today if it still stood. We are rebuilding the building, but it’s going to take time and in the end it being taller than the giants that have been built since is unlikely.

One thing that would not help that process is if you stopped construction because construction wasn’t fast enough.


You have an amazing ability to take what people say and contort it to fit your rhetorical needs.

I don’t believe anyone here said that Sendek can’t COACH. And if anyone did (I don’t have the time or patience to read EVERY SINGLE post), then they are in a tiny minority.

Of course he can coach. He knows more about basketball than anybody on this board.

Most people here (me included) have said that he rarely, if ever, make ADJUSTMENTS.

Specifically, meaning that he doesn’t really adapt the system to the players that he has. It was the same complaint that we had about KK - force the players to fit the system, rather than conceive and implement a system that takes advantage of the strengths of the roster while simultaneously masking and/or minimizing the weaknesses.

Additionally, he rarely, if ever, makes in-game adjustments.

Personally, I like Sendek. He is a fine ambassador and role model for the “Santa Clara Way”. He graduates fine young men who represent the school well. And he has a much more professional sideline demeanor.

But I think that it is a fair criticism about his unwillingness to adjust.

Just my two cents’ worth.

I already addressed this fallacy at the beginning of the thread.

I guess I could copy and paste. But I’ll just ask you to scroll up.

I’m definitely not going to analyze every game of the season. I dont know if that is even possible and even if it was, I wouldn’t bc you clearly already have your mind made up. Actual analysis wouldn’t change your opinion.

If Sendek made adjustments, even if they backfired, I think we’d all be grateful. His unwillingness to change is his biggest fault. Anyone who thinks there’s a correct way to play in today’s game is simply stuck in the past.
It’s hard to stomach 7th place in the WCC especially when it’s the same old thing over and over again.
Innovative, creative, dynamic are certainly not words that could be used to describe Sendek or his coaching style.