Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Pac-12 Networks Shortening the Off-Season

Two seasons ago when I cluelessly purchased this domain name my mom pronounces pa-choops, I had little more intention than to shout about the Pac-12’s basketball teams and learn a thing or two about the web.

The fact of note here has been that there has been no end goal to this. It has become abundantly clear to me that it is impossible – no matter the power of my words, the WordPress platform, or integrated social approaches – to make November arrive any faster.

But there has to be a way, right?

Baseball? Ubiquitous, on demand. A sport I once cherished but now see it for the time suck it serves to our busy lives. (That said, show me those composite GIFs all day long of Verlander’s four pitches. I will forever appreciate the minute details and October, I’ve just lost the patience for the daily grind of the game that perhaps too painfully serves as a metaphor for our own grind.)

College football? Ain’t here yet.

NFL? Ain’t here yet.

Soccer? That’s an every-four-years or lunch-break-with-Joel sport.

NBA? OK, I’ll confess, these playoffs are doing it for me and I have no qualms saying I love this run by Steph Curry and the Dubs.

And so, as it were, none of these shortens the months. There is no Off-Season Savings Time – a fall forward – to get to collegiate tip off and our favorite of games.

Or is there?

I present to you, recaps of first and second round action of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships:


Ok, maybe not. But this has really been a round about way of saying I’ve started to do some work with the Pac-12 Networks’ Digital Team. An opportunity I’m excited to have and a role that I hope can allow me broader access to the conference.

Alas, that was me cutting my P12N teeth, recaps of a wild tournament with sixty-four teams vying to be the last group standing.

As a hoops fan, how much better can it get?

Paying the Chol Toll

Let’s get one thing straight: Angelo Chol is a model teammate. He works hard, understands his role, takes a team first approach, and plays his damndest.

This, from a January article about the power forward’s playing time:

Miller said he had Chol in his office last week to talk about his role and to reinforce the coaching staff’s belief in the athletic, but still raw, basketball talent.

“He said, ‘Coach, as long as we’re winning, you never have to talk to me,’” Miller said.

The kid just wants to win. What more could you want from a program player? Evidently, you could want more players, better players, at the same position.

Sean Miller has taken a presumably calculated approach/risk in loading his front court. He’s found himself with four and five stars splattered across the four and five position, yet now watches the second member of this wealth of bigs depart.

Choltastic is leaving right on the heels of Grant Jerrett’s league declaration.

This transfer makes more sense than Jerrett’s exit – Cholcredible played just 8.5 minutes per game and never saw the floor in 3 of the team’s final 6 games – and Arizona has brought in Aaron Gordon and Rodae Hollis-Jefferson; both of whom project to take minutes from the Choltender. Additionally, Miller has made a concerted effort to ensure that Kaleb Tarczewski receives the lion’s share of big man minutes (can’t fault him for hoping a monstrous 7-footer develops). And there’s still Brandon Ashley and the arriving Matt Korchek (6’10” 225lbs with similar high-motor-low-offense skills as Cholicious).

So yeah, even if winning was all that mattered to Cholholio, it was becoming abundantly clear that no matter how hard he worked or team first he approached the day, if the push was to improve his position with other bodies, he was going to be the odd man out.

And so now he is out and it raises questions not of Chol-Patrol’s character or dedication, but rather what Sean Miller is up to?

By no means am I insinuating that he’s sabotaging his own program – that’d be asinine – but it’s interesting to read the following:

50% of Sean Miller’s recruits from 2009-2011 have transferred

Momo Jones, Kyryl Natyazhko, Daniel Bejarano, Josiah Turner, Angelo Chol, and Sidiki Johnson are all gone to greener pastures or otherwise. It is yet to be determined whether this is an issue, but for now it is a fact. Another fact is that NCAA-wide, there’s about a 40% transfer rate. This doesn’t excuse the Arizona-exodus but sheds some light on the ubiquity of movement.

Again, whether this 50% attrition rate is an issue is yet to be determined. Arizona could win the 2013-14 National Title and this would all be for naught.

But having to pay this Chol Toll could be indicative of bigger issues, program problems, and a lack of direction, aim, and development. Have I taken it too far? Perhaps, but 1/2 your kids bolt and eyebrows are raised.

From where we sit today, however, there isn’t a problem. Arizona maintains a top-10 roster and sits in the homes and ears of innumerable elite recruits. The eyebrow may be raised, but Arizona fans can maintain a smug grin.

And maybe it’s even simpler than all of that. Maybe it’s all just a big bummer to lose Cholster because he is all of those things I’d previously mentioned. The type of kid you hope to stand and applaud as he holds his framed jersey overhead, his family at his side, on his Senior Day.

The type of kid that prompts Sean Miller to call him “one of the finest people and nicest kids that I have ever coached.”

Here’s to hoping the best for Angelo Chol.

And the program he’s leaving.

Lessons from Basketball Kid

I watched a video posted to the Facebook by a good friend of mine. The poster played some college basketball and shares a passion for the game as many of us do; which is to say the video came from a trusted hoops source.

Here it is:

Unbridled joy for a simple game. And this doesn’t need to be basketball specific. I’m sure we could find Baseball Kid, Soccer Kid, Tennis Kid, Hide-n-Seek Kid, Imaginary Friend Kid, or any of an assortment of other kids so damn fired up about something they’ll suggest taping a cheetah to grandma’s back. But Basketball Kid helped with perspective; that this is a game and it is one that we love.

I mean, Adam made a shot while playing defense!

And while that’s a remarkable feat in and of itself, I want for us to be reminded that Andre Roberson was once Basketball Kid, too. He just wanted to play. After all, how much do you have to love hoops to play defense and rebound? Today he’s taking heat for trying to play, once and for all, at the highest level.

Grant Jerrett, too. Taking heat for the dream.

And I’m simplifying this stuff. I’m breaking it down to the easiest level of comprehension because deep down I want to be so naive that I think every competition I watch is a celebration of sport.

It’s why I had to look away during The Fab Five as they showed each of Chris Webber’s two long walks down that longest of corridors. I don’t care how much money he did or did not take from Ed Martin, that was Basketball Kid. He cared and he was genuinely hurt.

Perhaps the decisions of Roberson and Jerrett are misguided. Maybe they’re not setting themselves up for success but that’s not the point as they seek to fulfill their professional aspirations. Because if they really do have enough Basketball Kid in them, they’re going to be just fine.

Yes, I choose to be naive in these moments of perceived greed or self-interest because we’re not privy to the inner-workings of such a decision. Because we’re not far enough removed from One Shining Moment and because it’s not November yet.

Sure, the stakes are a touch higher than enjoying the swing set by your house, but Adam’s closing words ring true, “I love basketball.”

Well Adam, Grant and Andre do as well.

And me too, buddy.