They weren’t a crack commando unit, sent to prison in 1972 for a crime they didn’t commit.
They didn’t escape a maximum security prison to the Los Angeles underground, and they certainly aren’t wanted by the government.
If you have a problem … if no one else can help … and you can’t find them … you probably shouldn’t hire this “A-Team.”
Unless you want a “crack coaching unit,” that is.
“Well, you know, its something I started saying, the A-Team,” said UA women’s basketball coach Niya Butts, drawing from the 1980s TV series. “It’s the crew, it’s a special one, and we get out and we do whatever we have to do.”
And boy, does Butts love it when a plan comes together.
“We’re somewhat similar to the original A-Team, if you will,” she said.
Butts and her assistants E.C. Hill, Calamity McEntire and Sean LeBeauf know it’s corny — it doesn’t get much cornier than referencing an ’80s action show — but they embrace it.
It all started on Twitter over the summer. While the staff was out recruiting, they would attach “#ATeam” to the end of every tweet they sent out. LeBeauf, the newest addition to the staff, thinks he started the idea. Not even thinking about the TV show.
“To shorten up Arizona I put the A on something and it made sense,” he said. “I created that. I’m the originator. It just stands out. The A. People love it.”
Butts and McEntire beg to differ — they say Butts came up with the idea — but nonetheless it seems like a fitting namesake for Arizona’s tight-knit coaching staff. They come from different places — Butts from Georgia, McEntire from Oklahoma, Hill from Chicago and LeBeauf from Louisiana — and have different personalities, but they still all fit together.
“We have the moments where we get on each other’s nerves, but that’s part of it,” Hill said. “We just try to work hard, then play hard so we do a great job. Everyone has their niche that they bring to the table.”
They weren’t exactly keen on picking who from the four-person staff could play which character from the TV show — “I’m not gonna assign characters; we’re just the A-Team,” Butts said — so we’ll do it for them. Here’s a look at Arizona’s “A-Team”:
John “Hannibal” Smith
Niya Butts, head coach (6th year at UA).
Background: From Americus, Ga. Played for Pat Summitt at Tennessee from 1997-2000.
“A-Team:” “Hannibal” is the team’s leader, a top-notch tactician and a master of disguise. He’s often smoking a cigar, and loves it when a plan comes together.
A(rizona)-Team: Butts is the head honcho, and the team’s lead tactician. She wears a wide variety of suits, often with matching sneakers, and knows how to get her team going.
They said it: “She could be (him). She’s laid back. That could be her, I’m not as laid back at her.” — LeBeauf
Templeton “Faceman” Peck
E.C. Hill, assistant coach (3rd season at UA)
Background: From Chicago. Former WNBA player and in the Illinois High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Former Northern Illinois assistant coach.
“A-Team”: Peck is smooth-talking and Hannibal’s second-in-command. Specializes in scamming, hustling for equipment and sensitive information.
loving, and Butts’ longest tenured assistant on staff. Like Butts, is well-dressed. Specializes in the backcourt — point guards, shooting guards.
They said it: “We really believe we’re all like the A-Team.” — Hill
Sean LeBeauf, assistant coach (1st season at UA)
Background: From Boutte, La. Former athletic director and head coach at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas.
“A-Team”: A skilled mechanic, Baracus (Mr. T) is easily angered. He pities the fool.
A(rizona)-Team: LeBeauf is nice, easy-going — until he gets mad.
They said it: “Only time I’d be B.A. would be if they did something crazy on the court and I lost my mind.” — LeBeauf
“Howling Mad” Murdock
Calamity McEntyre, assistant coach (2nd season at UA)
Background: From Kiowa, Okla. Was an equipment manager for Pat Summitt at Tennessee from 2001-2003. Assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Boise State for four years before coming to UA.
“A-Team”: Might be insane, might be pretending. Murdock is a talented chopper pilot, and loves to fly them. At one point, saves B.A.’s life by donating blood.
A(rizona)-Team: This one’s a bit of a stretch, but there’s only four characters. McEntyre is caring, happy and wants everyone else to be happy, too.
They said it: “I personally didn’t watch it. I’m the youngest on the staff, but since the whole A-Team thing has arrived, they (the other coaches) showed me the intro video to the A-Team and what it looks like. As cheesy as it is, I’m running with it.”