As we continue to retire the archives, today's selection features a recap of the roller-coaster ride that was ASU hoops from the mid '90s to the mid '00s.
The Bill Frieder era was a black mark in our program's history. I would gladly have traded the sweet sixteen appearance for some integrity. I have long argued that one of the most overlooked heroes in recent ASU history is Don Newman. We forget just how bad things were at the start of the 1997-98 history. The Sun Devils were expected to be awful on the court that year, and no one would have been very surprised had some additional scandals arisen off the court. Instead Newman led the team to an 18 win season, and NIT tournament berth, and (far more importantly) restored discipline and respect to the program. John Dougherty's article, The Stopgap Coach, published in March 1998 recaps Newman's season and the decision not to hire him as the permanent Head Coach. Others will disagree, but I said at the time, and I continue to believe that Kevin White should have had the guts to stick with him -- he earned it. I'm glad that things worked out well for him, and he has been an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs for several years now.
Kevin White's "splashy" hire was, in retrospect, a mistake. Rob Evans was the classic example of a great guy who could not, for whatever reason, take the program to the next level. At least he continued to improve the school's reputation in the national media, as evidenced by articles like this one from 1999 and another in 2001.
The Evans era peaked in 2003 with the NCAA tournament selection, as captured beautifully in Paul Rubin's essay Winning Season: Devils go dancing for the first time in years.
After eight years, Lisa Love fired Rob Evans and surprised pretty much everyone with her hiring of Herb Sendek. So far, so good.