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Commentary: Grass greener away from UA

Jeff Lund
By Jeff Lund
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday March 4, 2003

Old Jim Livengood had a farm.

E, I, E, I, O.

And on that farm he had great coaches.

E, I, E, I, O.

With titles here, and championships there. Here a win, there a win, almost everywhere a win win.

Here the song stops ÷ on the turf of Arizona Stadium. The sidelines were littered with quality staff and good players; the wins just didn't come. Change was on the horizon, just not the type of change head coach John Mackovic would like.

When Rick Dykes left the Arizona football coaching staff to pursue private business, it was a blow to the program.

After the 49ers lured Larry Mac Duff away from the Old Pueblo, again the gridiron was left hurting.

Other coaches are leaving, and are rumored to be peacin' out, but one departure is particularly crippling.

With Rob Ianello öö one of the reasons Arizona got any decent recruits at all this season öö leaving for Wisconsin, the you-know-what is hitting the fan.

The implications of this move are far more serious than what appears on the surface.

Ianello is a prime recruiter ÷ able to sell quality high school players on a program that hasn't seen a bowl game in four years ÷ and he was obviously divided in terms of players and the head coach. Attracting players to a powerhouse Big-10 school should be cake.

Now the larger implication. When Ianello leaves, his wife, Denise Dove Ianello, will more than likely depart as well.

Denise Ianello has done an incredible job recruiting for the women's basketball program.

Her basketball wits and ability to bring quality players (see Shawntince Polk, Dee-Dee Wheeler) have been huge in the rise of the women's basketball squad.

Denise Ianello's professionalism and contributions will be sorely missed not only by the women's program, but by Arizona athletics, period.

With the Ianello family departing for a colder venue, their voids will be extremely hard to fill, but who can blame them for doing it together ·

The coaching exodus continues with the departure of volleyball assistant coach A.J. Malis.

After three years in the program, Malis is dedicating more time to his family and club team here in Tucson.

Arizona hires assistant coaches. Assistant coaches thrive, or at least get noticed in Wildcat programs. Assistant coaches get hired and promoted elsewhere. I think I've got the hang of it ·

I am not sure what else I can say about Polk. It's almost getting repetitive, and damn near ridiculous.

Let's have a look at what the 6-foot-5 freshman did in two games last week: 22.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.0 blocks, 69.2 percent from the field.

So she was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for the fourth time this season, becoming the first freshman in conference history to be deemed supreme baller of the week for the Pac-10.

While on the topic of records in a season; Polk has claimed two single season records öö double-doubles (19), and rebounds (291) and blocks (73) öö as well as the freshman record for points in a season (482).

Here is one more for good measure: Polk swatted nine shots against California on Saturday, setting, you guessed it, a UA record for blocks in a game ·

It was pretty easy to tell which hole UA golfer Ricky Barnes was on during the Chrysler Classic of Tucson over the weekend.

Some golfers had a few fans politely clapping, while Barnes had an enormous support crowd Sunday that followed his blue Arizona golf bag, complete with Wilbur club covers. Or as Pedro Sorano from the movie "Major League" would say, "hats for bats."

After a blistering start to the day and rise to a tie for sixth, Barnes finished 18th at 11 under par, still a very impressive performance for Barnes, and a steppingstone for his PGA career ·

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