View Full Version : A damning indictment of Herb Sendek!

Ken Stallings
24th January 2009, 00:32
This isn't the headline of this N&O article on Josh Powell, but it's certainly the most important lesson I draw from it!


About two thirds of the way through the article, one reads this quote from Powell himself:

"They were already preparing for me to be gone," Powell said. "That's the way I felt about it. No hard feelings -- they have to do what they think is best for them. I just wish I could have had someone to talk to, to give me some fair advice on the situation."

Now it becomes clear that the whispers delivered behind cloaked walls were true. Remember the situation with Herb's first big recruit, Damien Wilkens? Remember how the situation suddenly went from an opportunity to measure his development to him no longer welcome on the team? It was shocking; it made no sense. We heard Sendek talk about his requirement to maintain his core integrity and control on the program, without any context about why such words were deemed necessary.

Remember how his father, Gerald Wilkens, made tightly phrased statements about a reluctance of the coaching staff at NC State to appreciate the value of his son? Damien went to Georgia and earned much playing time and eventually the same in the NBA. Never heard another word from anyone about Damien being a negative influence on his team.

Well, turns out perhaps the situation with Damien was precisely that of Josh Powell. It seems now that an egotistical head coach regarded a player using his available means to test the NBA waters as a personal affront to said coach's sense of what loyalty is! Worse, said coach had no qualms about tearing his team apart to salve his ego.

In so doing, Herb Sendek chased away two of the best players he ever recruited! Can one imagine how much better Herb's teams would have been if Josh Powell returned for his junior season? At the time all of us were perplexed that Powell would continue to pursue the NBA after so many folks advised him he wasn't ready. Now, the truth finally emerges.

Sir Sendek, his high and mighty, didn't want Powell back on the team. And seeing no option but to endure transfer with its one year sit out and uncertain future, or make the move to the NBA, Powell chose to roll the dice.

Despite the thrust of the N&O article, Powell lost that roll. He endured years of difficult play in developmental leagues. NC State lost because with a returning Josh Powell, our basketball team had a real chance to compete for a conference championship. I would submit that Sendek lost because he myopically chased away a talented player and took his team down in quality.

At the time, many including myself were willing to give Sendek the benefit of the doubt with regards to Damien Wilkens. Perhaps Wilkens was being selfish. However, now one must question whether it was Herb's bruised ego that closed the door on Wilkens and never once did Gerald, Dominic, nor Damien try to usurp Sendek's authority. Never once did any of them give Herb the slightest logical reason to invoke claims of preserving his authority and integrity as a coach. All anyone did was have Damien conduct the tryouts which the NCAA said he could conduct.

Those who turned against Sendek, like myself, did so because we found him a bitterly stubborn man, unwilling to adopt to developments on the court and also between and during the seasons. Herb was inflexible with his players, often brutal. Even Julius Hodge said he was benched for a game for arriving at practice on time, which by Sendek's measure was late. Cameron Bennerman was benched so many times for such unexplained reasons, that eventually the players decided to play a game with his jersey number on their shoes in a rare display of unity against Sendek!

Of note, after that little message sent publicly, Bennerman started every remaining game and the team started winning more games.

I can not in a million years imagine Sidney Lowe treating his players in such an arrogant and contemptuous manner. Remember how respectful he was when Cedric Simmons and JJ Hickson both pursued their early go at the NBA? Even when Sid cracks the whip you get the impression he's doing it because he loves his players and not because he puts his ego ahead of their interests.

Frankly, the more time goes the more I'm glad that Sendek punched his own clock for good at NC State.

Mad Gene Vane
24th January 2009, 10:35
I really think Larry Hunter saved his job, because Larry showed Herb how to communicate with players better.

Seems strange you run off players for thinking about going pro. Most kids have a pipe dream of playing in the NBA and college is their path to the NBA.

24th January 2009, 10:46
Herb, like everyone else, had his faults. The Wilkens and Powell situations were different situations, but ended up with the same result.

I remember a story that Coach Patino told about Herb at practice. Basically Herb was talking about how a player needed to rotate and everyone stopped and looked at him because he was using such big words no one, even Patino knew what he was saying.

Hunter did save Herb and I believe Herb would have been fired that next year had it not been for Hunter.

Matt Nicholson
24th January 2009, 12:39
Which makes his success at ASU even more unexplaiable.

I wonder how Harden will be treated if he decides to test the NBA this year?

Mad Gene Vane
26th January 2009, 06:05
Herb's not stupid. He learned from his mistakes at NCSU. He learned from his mistakes with the Inge, Kelly, Thornton teams and tried something completely different.

He's learned from his mistakes at NCSU and isn't running the heave-and-weave at ASU. He learned to be more cordial from Hunter and it started showing late in his tenure at NCSU and really shows the couple of times I saw ASU play.

I remember reading an article from a Miami (OH) player, who said Herb wouldn't even say 'hello' when he met you somewhere, he'd just get straight to business. I don't think that's the case anymore with him.

He's changed and learned from his mistakes. Unfortunately he had 10 years to learn from them at our expense.