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March 19, 2009

Derek Glasser

James Harden

Jeff Pendergraph

Herb Sendek


LARRY WAHL: We have the Arizona State Sun Devils, 6th seed in the south region. They got to the NCAAs as an at-large bid. We have Jeff Pendergraph, Derek Glasser, James Harden. If you have questions, raise your hand.

Q. Could you just start by saying how this experience has been so far from the time you guys left Tempe until where you are now given the fact that this is your first tournament?
JEFF PENDERGRAPH: It started out fine, flying on the charter plane instead of flying on regular flights and being all cramped up, that was lovely. Getting here and being in a place I've never been before, that was great. All the buzz of the tournament and seeing banners everywhere and finally knowing that we made it to the tournament, it's a really good feeling to have.

Q. Derek, you guys have had three straight days in the PAC-10 Tournament and had an extra day's rest. How beneficial has that been?
DEREK GLASSER: It's been beneficial. We had some guys that were a little tired, but I think it benefits us most with preparation. Our coaches do a phenomenal job of getting us prepared for the opposing team, and with them having an extra day, I think it only benefits us.

Q. Could all three of you just answer this question, please: Can you tell me a little bit about how Coach Sendek has turned the program at Arizona State in the time he's been there?
JEFF PENDERGRAPH: I think one of the main things that he brought that helped change was the championship mentality. He wanted to come here and help change the culture, start trying to win with the players that he had, but he knew he needed to bring in better guys to help get us to a level we're at right now like with James and Derek. He had to bring them in to help me out. Just him bringing that mentality first and then his ability to recruit and bring in big time talent had definitely helped get our program to where we're at right now.
JAMES HARDEN: I think it's a mixture of things. The most important is hard work. It's been so much time in that film room, preparing us, getting us ready, and that keeps us on edge, to be ready, get ready for practice, no matter who we play, get ready for our game. Like I said, that keeps us on edge and ready to get.
DEREK GLASSER: I think the big thing what Jeff mentioned was the culture. I think Arizona State had a losing mentality, and when he came, that was the big thing that he wanted to change, was he wanted to make us winners. So set higher standards and just changed the culture of the program.

Q. Derek, I was asking James about when he was in the McDonald's All American Game in high school, and after the game was over and they were announcing where guys were going to college, other guys were saying North Carolina, Duke. James, they announced Arizona State and he felt kind of funny because of the prominence. Do you remember the phone call? He said he talked to you after that and what you guys talked about?
DEREK GLASSER: No, just kind of the same thing that was just said. He wanted to change the culture. He wanted to come in and be that guy to leave his name on a program and do something special. He just didn't want to go to another program like Duke where hundreds of guys have been before him. He wanted to go be that guy. When everybody talks about A.S.U. winning, James and Jeff are the guys that are going to be mentioned.

Q. You obviously had a tough day in the conference tournament final. What happened in that game from your standpoint? How much do you draw on that for motivation to bounce back and have a big weekend here?
JAMES HARDEN: Well, the previous two games, I think we played well. We played some of our best basketball. And USC is a great team. They're a unique defensive team. They have a great defensive scheme. We just didn't make enough shots to put out the game. But I think we're playing at an all-time high right now as far as a group and as our entire team.

Q. What about you personally?
JAMES HARDEN: I think I've been playing very well, but this is NCAA Tournament time, so everyone steps up to their game and I have to do the same thing.

Q. Jeff, President Obama picked five of the six PAC-10 teams to lose in the first round including you guys, and Washington to lose in the second round. Did you see that, and kind of your thoughts?
JEFF PENDERGRAPH: My thoughts are, I don't really have any. He's not on A.S.U., so he can't really speak for us, and he's definitely not in the other PAC-10 teams. He's an East Coast guy, and the East Coast bias, so that's all right (smiling).

Q. Can I just take what you guys gave me a little bit further, how do you feel about where the program is and where it's come from? You were talking about changing the culture and getting it on the move. It appears to me that it's on the kind of move that Coach Sendek wanted to get it on when he got there. Would all three of you agree with that, and to what extent do you see it at this time?
JEFF PENDERGRAPH: I mean, I can answer that perfectly. Like being probably the one guy that's been here before, he was here when it was the first culture, to see where it is now, it's a super credit to Coach Sendek and the guys for working hard and wanting to change the culture. Coach can tell you what he wants you to do and where he thinks you can be, but if the players don't believe it, then you still maintain that same culture. Guys came in and were ready to change it along with Coach Sendek, and that's what's got us to where we are right now.

Q. This is you guys' obviously first time here. Do you feel like Temple has an advantage because that core group of guys is back for their second time in two years. Do you feel like that gives them an advantage? And do you feel being here for the first time is a little bit of a disadvantage for Arizona State?
DEREK GLASSER: I don't know if it gives them to an advantage, but Coach Sendek has been to plenty of tournaments. He knows how it is to win. I think his record is 5-1 in first round games. So he knows what it takes and how to prepare us mentally.
I think a big thing for us was playing in the PAC-10 Championship game. It brought us a little championship experience and just shows you how much you have to elevate your game in certain games.

Q. How about you guys as players, though?
DEREK GLASSER: I think all of us have played in big games throughout our basketball careers, and I think we're going to be ready to go.

Q. James, when you decided to come back, was this week kind of one of the reasons for that? As nice as going far in the NIT was or maybe playing into the PAC-10 Tournament pretty deep, the NCAA is different, right?
JAMES HARDEN: Definitely. This is a great experience, to be a part of this tournament and be able to compete against these great players. When I thought to return, this is what I expected. I thought we had a great team, great chemistry to build on, great coaches. Everything was perfect. So this year we wanted to do obviously better than we did last year, and I think we did a pretty good job.

Q. Now that you've seen Dionte Christmas on film, what are your impressions of him? And does he remind you of anyone that you've faced this year?
DEREK GLASSER: I don't know if he reminds me of any one player, but he's a heck of a player watching him on film. It's not only him, they've got a few post guys that are pretty good, and their guards do a pretty good job of getting the ball to the basket and finding him, finding Christmas. We've got our hands full with not only Christmas but all of them.

Q. Jeff, how would you describe what James has meant to your team this season? And how important is it to you guys for him to have a big game tomorrow?
JEFF PENDERGRAPH: Him being an all-star player, it's always important for him to have a big game. But I think sometimes that gets kind of fuzzy on what it means for him to have a big game. Sometimes it's him scoring 40 points and 10 rebounds. He doesn't have to do all of that. If he gets 10 points but 13 assists, that's another productive game for him, too.
But I'm not too worried about James. He's a big-time player, big-time guy when the lights are on.

Q. James, you've seen countless examples of guys that have carried their teams throughout the NCAA Tournament. For the most part you've kind of let the game come to you for the season, but does your assertiveness, not necessarily the amount of shots you're taking, but what Jeff is talking about, does that need to change a little bit because of the format of one loss and you're going home? Do you need to be more assertive offensively, just getting more involved in the game because one loss and you could be going home?
JAMES HARDEN: Definitely, not only be assertive in scoring but getting my teammates open shots, getting them easy buckets, it helps the offense a lot more. Especially if guys like Derek and Ty are knocking down shots, it makes the game a lot easier?

Q. Will you be more assertive?
JAMES HARDEN: Yes, exactly. If you lose one you're going home. So I think my teammates want me to be more assertive in not just scoring the ball but making plays, and that's what I'm going to do.

Q. Derek, it seems the consensus with coaches and your teammates that you've stepped up your game this season. What's different for you this year about your own play?
DEREK GLASSER: I think I'm just playing a little more confident. I think my teammates have a lot more confidence in me this year, and they've given me the ball in some crunch-time plays, and I've been able to come through. I think just overall confidence within myself and with my teammates.
JAMES HARDEN: He's actually shooting the ball.

Q. This is for any of the players, and I apologize if it's been asked before, but can you talk a little bit, you've all had a number of coaches now at this point in your careers, about the way Coach Sendek interacts with you guys on a internal and a professional level?
JEFF PENDERGRAPH: You want me to describe how he interacts with us? I don't know, it's hard to explain. You've got to hang out with him to understand it and like be around him. You can't see how he coaches because how he coaches isn't really how he interacts. Today on the bus over to practice he was super serious and everything, and then he gets in the gym and starts shooting jump shots and starts calling out 'Rek and James and he hasn't missed all week, and he's over here goofing around like he's like a little kid. But then the switch gets flipped and he's ready to be back in serious mode and coach mode again.
He's a great coach, and he approaches it kind of like a teacher would, not just like a coach. Like he doesn't just tell you what you've got to do, he'll break things down every time. And if you have a question, he'll answer it to the best of his knowledge.
JAMES HARDEN: Coach has groomed me a lot. In the beginning, my freshman year, obviously I had to get a grasp for how he coaches, and him as a person. But I think this year we've connected a lot more than we did last year as far as me getting to know him personally. Just like I said, growing on him. He's a great coach, great teacher, and I'm happy to be one of his players.
DEREK GLASSER: I think that the big thing for him is his attention to detail. He doesn't let anything go in practice or even off the court with school. He's always on top of us making sure that we're getting things done that we need to do. Just his ability to pay attention to detail and care about us as not only basketball players but people.
LARRY WAHL: Thank you, guys.
(Short break.)
LARRY WAHL: Coach Herb Sendek of the Sun Devils. Do you want to talk about your season a little bit and about making the NCAA Tournament and being here in Miami?
COACH HERB SENDEK: Sure. We're obviously very excited to be here and looking forward to an awesome challenge tomorrow against Temple. We've been blessed with a terrific group of young guys to coach. They've become a close group, and I think have worked really hard to put themselves in this position.

Q. We talked a little bit about James. For the most part this season he's kind of let the game come to him. But do you want him to be a little more assertive offensively, not necessarily in shots taking but just getting involved because if you lose there's no game two days later?
COACH HERB SENDEK: I think the beauty of James' game is he makes good decisions. He can impact our offense in ways beyond scoring, and he's never been somebody that has a great need to force things, but at the same time, he's very comfortable being assertive when the situation demands.
I think he has a real good feel for things.

Q. I feel like I ask you this every day, but can you give us an update on how Jamelle is doing?
COACH HERB SENDEK: Yes. Jamelle continues to make progress. He's doing much better, and we're hopeful that tomorrow when we evaluate how he feels, he'll be able to give us some minutes.

Q. A lot has been made of the offense that you guys run and how you use James. What do you think of Temple's offense, that motion offense that Dunphy is pretty well known for, how effective it is and how you're going to defend it?
COACH HERB SENDEK: It seems to me that he's done a great job of putting his personnel in the best position to be successful. He's taken the different players he has and I think assembled them in a way that really plays to their strengths.

Q. Is Dionte Christmas a guy like [] Randle where you're going to really have to extend your defense out because he can shoot it from 23, 24, 25 feet?
COACH HERB SENDEK: Yes, he's amazing to watch on tape. He makes shots that quite frankly seem indefensible. Defenders are draped on him, hand up, nose to nose, and somehow he creates a little bit of space and the ball is up and in. He has great size. He can get his shot even when the defenses for the most part are in exactly the right position and are aware of him. He's really been an amazing player for them.
This is the first chance I've had to really watch him repeatedly, and I've been amazed at his scoring power.

Q. Some of the Temple guys were saying that your defense reminds them of what they used to play, and I know it's apples and oranges, but would you have thought two years ago when you put in the zone defense that you would be compared to the Temple guys, to the old Temple zone?
COACH HERB SENDEK: No, but anybody who would do that we would take as a compliment because I had a chance to coach against two of Coach Chaney's teams, and I know how good that defense was; very difficult to attack. Our defense is not the same as that defense, so that's probably the best way to say it.

Q. What were the things that went into the tough game James had in the conference tournament final? How much did SC have to do with that and how much are you concerned about a carryover into this weekend?
COACH HERB SENDEK: You know, on the surface, and I said this after the SC game, if you only evaluate somebody's impact on their numbers, you can really miss the totality of what they're influencing in the game. James allowed us to score many baskets throughout the season when in some instances he didn't touch the ball. His presence adds value to our offense.
You know, that was the third game in three days for James. He played a lot of minutes. Once again, in defense of him, he was doing the best he could with a bruised Achilles tendon. We had to take him out a couple times in that game just to see if we could rejuvenate him a little bit. Hopefully that's calmed down and he's feeling a little bit better going into this week's game.

Q. How much has the extra day's rest helped the team in terms of getting their legs back a little bit?
COACH HERB SENDEK: The extra day this week was very much welcomed by our team, having played the three games and then drawing an East Coast seed where we had to travel across the country. Playing tomorrow was something that we really embraced.

Q. You've been in the NCAA Tournament a bunch of times before, but the first time here. Can you just talk about the specialness of that, I suppose, and how that must feel like a landmark?
COACH HERB SENDEK: Well, I'm really happy for Jeff Pendergraph, our lone senior. Jeff has been through all kind of ups and downs and has stayed the course and had his career best year. So I particularly rejoice at the opportunity that Jeff has, and certainly all the players. They've invested a great deal in one way or another to be here, and we obviously share this with all the Sun Devil fans and all the University, Arizona State University. It's really a shared experience because so many people have to contribute and do their job well for this kind of thing to happen.

Q. Herb, given that the pod system was supposed to keep teams close to home, are you a little mystified why you and Arizona got sent across the country?
COACH HERB SENDEK: Not really, because there's so many variables, you can't satisfy them all to perfection. I know it was probably even made more complicated in our situation as well as Arizona's because the west region runs through Glendale, and so I don't think -- I stand to be corrected, that we could have been in the west region. So we were going to travel one way or another. It's hard enough just to seed the teams. I don't know how you differentiate between teams short of trying to put this piece of paper between teams, let alone have to take into account the geography and the economy. At the end of the day, something has to give.

Q. You've been here before, your players haven't. Is there too much made of the fact that kids haven't gone through this, the whole process, the media thing?
COACH HERB SENDEK: You know, you could probably drive yourself wacky trying to read into every possible psychological variable that could go into play in tomorrow's game. I think on the one hand we all recognize the value that experience brings in whatever we do in life. But on the other hand, I think our guys have other kinds of experiences, having played in big games, that can help mitigate the fact that no one on our team has been in the NCAA Tournament yet.

Q. One of your players when he was in just a little bit ago talked about your success in first-round play in the NCAA Tournament. I think he said you were like 5-1 in first-round games. Is there any way you approach it or have approached it over the years? Is there something in there that you've kind of stuck with? I've heard coaches say that in football, basketball and baseball, if they find something like going to a Super Bowl or going to a bowl game in college that they stick with it. Is there something that you've found?
COACH HERB SENDEK: Not really. We don't do anything extraordinary. We just try to prepare like we do for any game, and then it comes down to our players stepping up and getting the job done, and we've been fortunate in the past that some guys have had some terrific games on our behalf. But there's nothing extraordinary about what we're doing.
LARRY WAHL: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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