HANSEN

Greg Hansen: Cats improved after player movement

2012-04-13T00:00:00Z Greg Hansen: Cats improved after player movementGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 13, 2012 12:00 am  • 

In an attempt to gain insight into Josiah Turner's troubled senior season at Sacramento High School, I studied his team's 2010-11 box scores on the Maxpreps.com website.

I knew Turner had missed several games and had been benched in parts of others. He left the team early in January 2011, when Sac High coach Derek Swofford told the Sacramento Bee, "Josiah Turner won't be with the team the rest of the season for violating athletic rules and regulations and team rules and regulations."

Here's what I found: The Josiah Turner of 2010-11 no longer exists.

Someone went to a lot of trouble to erase all trace of Turner, the 2010 Sacramento Player of the Year. His name is no longer listed on the Maxpreps.com 2010-11 roster. His statistics have been deleted.

The Dragons' final statistics account for just 2,062 of the team's 2,325 points. Turner's 263 points are missing. They even redacted Turner's 50 assists from the team's total of 533.

Cutting a guy out of the team photograph is a trivial thing, but it also suggests that Turner's high school career was as toxic as it was as an Arizona Wildcats freshman.

UA coach Sean Miller has chosen to enter the 2012-13 season without a true point guard rather than baby-sit the oft-suspended Turner. That act speaks so loudly that the coach doesn't need to make a statement.

Miller took a chance on a kid with a troubled past, got burned, and now understands that the I'm-the-one-coach-who-can-turn-this-kid-around approach is easier done in the movies or in an ESPNU documentary.

Turner, who was reckless on and off the court, is one of five Miller recruits who have left Arizona's roster in three years.

Kyryl Natyazhko turned out to be a 6-foot-11-inch spot-up shooter and not a rebounder. MoMo Jones was an independent spirit in a team game. Sidiki Johnson wasn't prepared for discipline at any level. Daniel Bejarano, whose evaluation was rushed in a coaching change, was never good enough.

The critics cry Miller has lost it; his star has fallen.

A more accurate narrative is that this is the way basketball at Arizona has been for the last 30 years.

Get this: In Lute Olson's first three recruiting classes, five players transferred, too: Michael Tait to Clemson, Bruce Wheatley to Texas-San Antonio, Rolf Jacobs to Long Beach State, Eric Cooper to Texas-San Antonio and Van Beard to Nevada.

The reasons then were as varied as they have been under Miller. Jacobs punched guard Craig McMillan in the nose and, via a vote of his teammates, was kicked off the club. Olson asked Wheatley to redshirt; he chose to leave instead. Beard had been poorly evaluated in a rush after Olson was hired. Tait lost playing time to Steve Kerr and became unhappy. Cooper followed the UA assistant who had recruited him, Ken Burmeister, to UTSA.

Of those recruited to Arizona by Olson, 30 eventually transferred. That's more than one per season. It had virtually no effect on the program's success.

Tony Clark, who was a better first baseman than a small forward, went to San Diego State so that he wouldn't be stacked up behind Sean Rooks, Wayne Womack and Chris Mills. Ron Curry split for Marquette, near his Midwest home, to be reunited with the man who recruited him, Kevin O'Neill.

When Sidiki Johnson disappeared after playing in just nine minutes this season, it put him in a category of we-didn't-get-to-know-you UA transfers such as Sean Allen, Andrew Zahn, Laval Lucas-Perry, Chris Dunn, Etdrick Bohannon, Marty Barmentloo and on and on.

Even without a true point guard in '12-13, Arizona will benefit from the lack of Turner's negative body language.

Natyazhko, a good kid and one of the team's top academic performers, failed to develop as a big-body basketball player. Do you realize that guard Jordin Mayes out-rebounded Natyazhko 47-37 this year? Amazing.

If you go back to the start of the Pac-10, in 1978, Arizona has lost 43 players, transfers and quitters, and of that group, only the loss of future NBA and Olympic gold medal guard Leon Wood was seriously lamented.

Dennis Latimore became a part-time player at Notre Dame; Will Bynum was a Final Four guard at Georgia Tech, but Arizona had Salim Stoudamire and Jason Gardner getting the available minutes; Jarvis Kelley became a nice rebounder at Rice, but he would have been a role player at Arizona.

As Miller's roster now sits, adding point guard T. J. McConnell and power forward Matt Korcheck this week, Arizona has its best core group of 10 players since 2005.

It's the old addition-by-subtraction formula that has worked at McKale Center since 1985.

Contact Greg Hansen at 573-4362 or ghansen@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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