Murphy has upgraded schedule - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Murphy has upgraded schedule

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Posted: Saturday, May 29, 2004 6:53 am | Updated: 4:33 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The NCAA is acknowledging that Pat Murphy paid attention to the complaints about his non-conference schedule.

NCAA baseball spokesman and numbers cruncher Jim Wright this week called ASU’s non-league schedule "spectacular" and added that the Devils’ non-league rating was a whopping 20 percentage points better than second-place Houston.

"ASU has struggled in past years," Wright said. "It would appear coach Murphy has changed the way he’s doing things."

Complaints from the ASU camp over its treatment by the baseball committee, particularly during the first half of Murphy’s ASU tenure, were loud, but the committee was unflinching.

This year ASU played nationally ranked teams Florida State, Rice, East Carolina, Oral Roberts, Tulane and Wichita State.

One change this season in calculating the RPI provides extra bonus points for road wins over top 75 teams. Two wins at nationally ranked Wichita State and a victory at defending national champion Rice gave ASU a bushel of points.

"Arizona State has a big plus because of its tremendous nonconference schedule," Wright said.

ASU went into the weekend against Stanford with a lot at stake nationally.

CHANGING GEARS

To keep from having a depleted roster every other year, high profile basketball programs may need to find projects who’ll stay around for more than two years.

And so Arizona this week signed 7-foot-2, 210-pound center Chukwuma Okwandu from Lagos, Nigeria.

Okwandu was signed out of a camp in Africa run by the NBA.

When have you heard of a top 10 program signing an athlete to redshirt?

But the current collegiate environment in which schools will be punished for not graduating players calls for modifications.

UA coach Lute Olson said Okwandu "has a great deal of potential."

We’ll see about that later. But there’s no question, UA has been short of bodies in recent years because of players going pro.

Okwandu is a long way in ability and headaches from 2003 6-10 prep signee Ndudi Ebi, who stunned Olson by turning pro.

Whenever Channing Frye got in foul trouble last season, UA didn’t have another big man to replace him.

Frye and fifth-year senior Isaiah Fox will beat up on Okwandu in practice next year to prepare him for a role that may last four seasons at McKale Center.

UNDERSTOOD

• If UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero favors a pitching coach to succeed Gary Adams, who is retiring, he’ll give UC Irvine head coach John Savage a promotion to the Westwood campus. Savage was the pitching coach at USC for Mark Prior, Barry Zito, Seth Etherton, and Rik Currier. With Savage three years removed from USC, the Trojans, for the second successive year, won’t make the postseason. UC Irvine, meanwhile, is expected to receive an at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament.

OVERHEARD

• "I don’t look at it as a promotion."

— Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer when asked by the San Francisco Chronicle if she would be interested in coaching the men’s team

• "It is my understanding that rumors persist regarding my involvement in the University of Washington athletic director search. I want to go on record as saying that I am not a candidate for that or any other job."

— Oregon athletic director and Washington native Bill Moos

DID YOU KNOW?

• Unhappy with his playing time, Arizona outfielder Terrence Taylor refused to come out of the dugout when he was introduced for Senior Day last Sunday.

• With the worst team in the conference already having more wins (eight) than any other last-place team and the conference champion likely to have the most losses, this has been the most competitive baseball season ever in the Pac-10.

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