Butts shuffles UA hoops staff again, adds Sean LeBeauf

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                </div>It would appear that Niya Butts will be given a little more time to try to turn around the struggling women’s basketball program at University of Arizona.  She just hired […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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It would appear that Niya Butts will be given a little more time to try to turn around the struggling women’s basketball program at University of Arizona.  She just hired another assistant coach.

Sean LeBeauf, a successful coach at the junior-college level, is the latest addition to a program that has seen more than its share of personnel movement in the last few seasons.

Butts, who has posted just one winning record since arriving from the University of Kentucky in 2008, lost her associate head coach about this time last year when Sue Darling took the head-coaching job at Northern Arizona University.  About the same time, three players decided to transfer out of the program; it was a year of adjustment, to say the least.

The year before Darling left, Chance Lindley left the staff for a head-coaching job at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Darling replaced him with E.C. Hill, who spent the previous six seasons as an assistant at Northern Illinois University  Hill brought a wealth of playing experience with her; in addition to being a record-setting scorer at NIU, she played professionally in the ABL, WNBA, and in Europe.

Brandy Manning, who, like Darling, had been on staff at Arizona since Butts began her tenure there, moved into the associate coach role last year and Calamity McEntire was hired from Boise State to fill the vacancy left by Darling’s departure.

But Manning has also decided to move on.  A couple of weeks ago he accepted a similar role at USC, joining the inaugural staff of the school’s new head coach, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.

It’s hard at this point not to think about the old joke about comparing the process of making futile changes with re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Now, enter LeBeauf at NAU.  The former player at the University of Montevallo (Alabama) brings some coaching experience at different levels.  His most recent job was as the athletic director and head women’s basketball coach at Paris Junior College in Texas, where his Dragons set a single-season record for wins and earned a national ranking.

Before his four years at Paris JC, LeBeauf was an assistant coach for the men’s team at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La.  During his stint there, from 2005-2009, the school won the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship and the 2006 Historical Black Colleges and Universities National Championship.

LeBeauf has signed on to a program in desperate need of a winning season.  Butts is still living off her 20-win season and appearance in the WNIT back in 2011.  But there were two dismal seasons before that, and two after it.

Arizona finished 15-17 in 2012 and closed out in the Pac-12 cellar with just three conference wins.  This past season was more of the same, as the final record came in at 12-18; four conference wins left the Wildcats with a tie for 11th place.  They wrapped up their season with a first-round exit in the Pac-12 Tournament.

And, to make matters even worse, the offense is graduating this month.

Davellyn Whyte, the local favorite from St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, played more minutes during her career under Butts (4,243) than any previous player in women’s basketball at UofA.  Her 2,059 career points are the second-highest point totals in the record books – and she also posted the first triple-double in program history.

She also did her share on the boards, averaging 5.5 rebounds a game over her career, and on the defensive end where she finished her career with 266 steals to take second place on that all-time list.

Just try to replace that.

Butts got a contract extension right after her 20-win season, which will take her through the 2015-16 season.  But that job security could fade quickly without some real progress next season – and that’s probably going to take more than just adding another coach.

Finding someone to replace Davellyn Whyte would be a good place to start.