College basketball is full of tradition. From the Cameron Crazies, to cutting down nets, "One Shining Moment," Midnight Madness and Taylor University's Silent Night. One tradition that has stayed true at ASU is starting the seniors on senior day.
Saturday, that meant Shaquielle McKissic, Bo Barnes and Jonathan Gilling would presumably all take the floor for the opening tip-off against the Cal Bears. Then, both Gilling and Barnes made an unselfish move, something that Sendek hadn't seen in his over 20 years of coaching.
When Gilling asked Sendek if he wanted to start:
"Uhhh no, no, no, no, no"
"Jon is the ultimate sixth man. He loves coming off the bench," Sendek said. "I knew from talking to Jon that he didn't want any part of starting."
Then Barnes caught wind that Gilling had said he wasn't going to start. He didn't want to ruin the routine and the starters that ASU already had in place. He was afraid it might mess up the game plan and what the Sun Devils were trying to accomplish on the floor.
"He wasn't as adamant but he said listen, ' let's do what we do, we have a rhythm,' Barnes told Sendek. "The most important thing is let's win the game today."
It was the correct decision, but one Sendek almost immediately regretted as ASU fell down 9-0 early against Cal but came back to win 74-70. Sendek light-heartedly said that now in order to win the Pac-12 Tournament, he won't allow Gilling or Barnes to start in Las Vegas.
"Hopefully we won't fall behind 9-0," Sendek joked . "Because that's what happens when your seniors don't start on senior day, you fall behind 9-0."