Hansen Sunday Notebook: Have skills, will travel

As more athletes transfer, coaches must be 'proactive'
2013-05-05T00:00:00Z 2013-05-05T19:42:48Z Hansen Sunday Notebook: Have skills, will travelGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The changing dynamics of college sports, roster movement at unprecedented levels - free agency, actually - was rarely more apparent than it was Friday during the UA-ASU softball game at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Arizona's 2012 shortstop, Shelby Pendley, transferred to Oklahoma. She is to be replaced by Kellie Fox, a transfer from UCLA, who is redshirting.

ASU's shortstop is Cheyenne Coyle, a transfer from Florida. Sun Devils outfielder Becca Tikey transferred to ASU from Arizona two years ago.

Sitting in the grandstands, behind the ASU dugout, was Jackie Vasquez, a former Catalina Foothills High School standout who helped ASU win the 2008 national championship. Vasquez was a transfer from Kansas (who is now completing her master's degree at Arizona, of all places).

UA coach Mike Candrea's roster is young and thin because five players he expected to be part of this year's club - Baillie Kirker, Matte Haack, Ashlee Brawley, Pendley and Tikey - all transferred or left school.

It reflects the roster turbulence experienced by Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller, who last week as part of the school's caravan to Phoenix, told reporters: "You're building teams for one year. … Never have we seen this type of change before."

Candrea was more direct.

"You don't have to look too much beyond what Sean Miller is going through; it's a sign of the times," he said.

"You see more and more movement and it's not going to get any better," Candrea added. "Kids are making the wrong decisions too early and then bailing out. All of these early commitments, from sophomores and freshmen, scare me.

"I'm not real fond of the recruiting atmosphere today."

Arizona basketball has benefited almost as much as it has lost on transfers. Miller's back-to-back point guards, Mark Lyons and T.J. McConnell, are transfers from Xavier and Duquesne, respectively.

The hottest prospect in Pac-12 basketball today is Mike Moser, who transferred from UCLA to UNLV and is now making a third move, choosing between Oregon, Washington and Gonzaga.

"The reality is that you've got to be proactive," said Candrea. "For us to sit back and think our roster is set through 2015 is wrong. Now you've got to make sure option B and option C are in place. Where is this all going to end? I don't think anybody knows."

Short Stuff

Scott faces tall odds to make Jags despite QB guru sessions

In retrospect, you wonder if whatever undrafted Matt Scott paid so-called quarterbacks guru George Whitfield - maybe $10,000 or $20,000 - was worth it. Scott's NFL value was always going to be diminished by his lack of weight, his lack of college playing time and the concussion he suffered last season. Scott could've saved a lot of money by working out at McKale Center, passing to Wildcat receivers and going through daily strength and conditioning workouts with no charge. Those gurus -Whitfield calls himself a "quarterback engineer" - are overrated and often unnecessary. … Scott's chances of making the Jacksonville Jaguars opening-day roster are remote. Of the 69 quarterbacks who threw a pass in a regular-season NFL game last year, only four were undrafted: Dallas' Tony Romo, Arizona's Brian Hoyer, Cleveland's Thad Lewis and Kansas City's Chase Daniel. Only Romo threw more than a handful of passes. … Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly is said to be fond of ex-Arizona QB Nick Foles because Foles produced so well against Oregon. In three starts against the Ducks, Foles was 93 for 157 for 1,160 yards, with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. That's a completion percentage of .592. Kelly then drafted USC's Matt Barkley, who in his final three starts against Oregon, went 87 for 137 for 1,071 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions (and a much better supporting cast). Barkley's percentage: .635. Edge to Foles. Both are about as mobile as a sphinx. … Longtime UA softball assistant coach Larry Ray, who left the program last year, is now a volunteer assistant at Nicholls State in Louisiana. … The law firm hired by Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott to investigate the league's basketball officiating mess is Ice Miller LLP, based in Chicago. Ice Miller has designated the case to attorney Stuart Brown, a former college basketball graduate assistant coach at Wake Forest and Vanderbilt. At least he should know the working parameters - coaches versus refs - as he gets started.

More Short Stuff

Olson assistant beat cancer, helps lead fight

Scott Thompson was the first assistant coach hired by Lute Olson upon arrival at Arizona in 1983. Thompson went on to be the head coach at Rice, Wichita State and Cornell, where he left coaching to deal with stage III colon cancer, which he has since overcome. Thompson, 59, returned to Tucson in 2004, becoming senior director of development for the UA Cancer Center; he was later an executive for the UA Foundation. Now Thompson is moving again, becoming director of the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation. … Nic Grigsby rushed for 2,957 yards as an Arizona Wildcat from 2007 to 2010, but his pro tryouts with Tampa Bay, Oakland, Miami, Green Bay and the British Columbia Lions did not last long. So this spring, Grigsby enrolled at NAIA Arizona Christian University in Phoenix and played baseball. As a reserve outfielder, Grigsby hit .214, but didn't play in the team's final 12 games. He is 24. Real life beckons. … Yahoo.com last week published a damage-control article on troubled ex-UA point guard Josiah Turner, who told the website, among other things, "I'll never go down a bad path again," and "I've grown into a grown man." Turner is now trying to get drafted by an NBA team, believe it or not. He has no NBA future until he can develop and stick a jumper with any regularity, which isn't likely at this stage. … Salpointe first baseman Michael Hoard, who has signed to play at Arizona, saw his batting average go from .483 to .460 to .406 from his sophomore to his senior seasons. His home run totals fell from 11 to eight to six in the same period. That's because he no longer had the protection in the lineup he had as a sophomore, when Joe Serrano, an Arkansas Razorbacks starter, had one of the most prolific baseball seasons in Tucson history. Pitchers wouldn't give Hoard much to hit; his walk total went from 17 as a sophomore to 35 this year.

Lack of football passion hurts Pac-12 in DirecTV negotiations

One of the reasons DirecTV has resisted negotiating a contract with the Pac-12 Networks is because the passion for Pac-12 sports is limited and nothing like SEC or Big Ten football. Oregon drew the largest attendance of Pac-12 spring games, 36,588. Then came UCLA with an estimated 20,000; USC at 15,284; Colorado at 10,244; and all other schools under 10,000. Arizona's 4,095 was the smallest in the league. By comparison, lightweight Kentucky of the SEC drew 50,831 for its spring game and Ole Miss, not even close to a power, drew an estimated 28,000. … At Stanford's spring game, witnessed by a mere 4,350, Sabino grad Keanu Nelson caught five passes. In his first two seasons at Stanford, Nelson did not catch a pass and returned one punt for 8 yards. He appears to be part of Stanford's rotation for 2013. … CDO and Pima College grad Ryan Retz is bidding to become an All-Big South baseball player at High Point University. Retz last week was among 25 players named to the John Olerud award watch list, an honor for those who both pitch and hit in college baseball. Retz is fifth in the Big South with a .359 batting average. He is 4-3 as a pitcher. … Pima College has had so many all-conference and All-American softball players the last decade it's difficult to keep track of them. But none have ever been chosen ACCAC Pitcher of the Week or Player of the Week four times in succession, as Aztecs right-hander Yvette Alvarez was over the last month. The Sahuarita High grad was 13-1 between April 4-27 with a 1.22 ERA in 73 innings. Then she led the Aztecs to the Region I Division I tournament title Saturday. What's more, Alvarez took a .421 batting average with 15 homers and 82 RBIs into the playoffs. If she's not the player of the year in the ACCAC, it'll be a shock.

Tyler tearing up Gateway Tour

Sabino and UA grad Nathan Tyler is having the best year in men's golf for those not employed by the PGA Tour. Tyler won the All-American Gateway Tour event again last week in San Tan Valley, earning $14,100 to push his season earnings to $91,150. He has won three events and been runner-up three more times. Tyler, who played in the 2010 U.S. Open, will enter the U.S. Open local qualifier this week in Phoenix. Many of his contemporaries will play the Open qualifier at Tucson National on Wednesday. Among those in the 84-man field are UA grad Brian Prouty, who has played in four Web.com events this year, five-time Tucson City Amateur champion David McDaniel and 1990s Arizona consensus All-American Ted Purdy, who spent eight years on the PGA Tour. Four of the 84 players will advance to a U.S. Open sectional qualifier. … Former Salpointe softball standout Paige Peterson has become a starter during her freshman season at DePaul. Peterson was hitting .268 in 49 starts, with four homers, as DePaul got off to a 30-20 start. DePaul's pitching coach is Nancy Evans, who held a similar job at Arizona. … Jenny Dalton Hill , a three-time Arizona All-America infielder in the 1990s, is the head coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington, Ky. Her daughter, Brooke, is part of the team. Dalton still holds NCAA records for career runs scored (293) and career RBIs (328). Her husband, ex-UA trainer Marc Hill, is an executive assistant athletic director at Kentucky.

My Two Cents

Chol committed too many errors, led to time on bench

Sean Miller knew he was risking the Arizona future of Angelo Chol when he made him the ninth man in an eight-man rotation last season.

But the coach didn't have many other options. The popular Chol was often lost on defense, especially on pick-and-roll plays, and in an attempt to catch up with the play, he often reached and was called for fouls. Chol was whistled for 27 fouls in 239 minutes. That's about 4 1/2 fouls per game projected over a full game.

Chol also committed 19 turnovers in that limited time. By comparison, Grant Jerrett also committed exactly 19 turnovers - but in 606 minutes, 2 1/2 times more court time than Chol played.

It's an unfortunate Catch 22: Had Chol been able to play regularly, he surely would've cut down his turnovers and defensive problems and gotten into the flow of the game better. But when you are bidding for a Pac-12 championship and a berth in the Final Four, every possession is magnified.

Chol sat because he made too many errors when he played.

Let's hope when he resurfaces, at San Diego State or wherever, he can play enough to develop into the future NBA player that many UA fans projected him to be.

Contact columnist Greg Hansen at ghansen@azstarnet.com or 573-4362. On Twitter @ghansen711

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

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