I used to be so sorry to study of the passing of Corridor of Fame coach Lute Olson, who was one of many classiest guys I’ve met in my 42 years in broadcasting.

He was a winner — a Frank Lloyd Wright-type architect on the College of Arizona. Olson set the stage for that success in Tucson as a junior faculty coach, then was profitable at Lengthy Seaside State and Iowa, taking the Hawkeyes to the Last 4 in 1980.

Olson had that particular means of getting guys to play collectively. They had been about crew, sharing the basketball, defending, performing in a optimistic means. He cherished his gamers, and he had many good ones. Take into consideration Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Mike Bibby, Damon Stoudamire, Miles Simon, Tom Tolbert … and the checklist goes on and on.

I keep in mind having good occasions speaking with him. Olson was the one coach who referred to as me “Dukie V,” saying I gave an excessive amount of like to the Blue Devils. He mentioned I talked about JJ Redick being a terrific shooter; and I ought to come out and do some Arizona video games and watch Stoudamire, who in accordance with Lute was a good higher shooter! I cherished that Olson had such a perception in his participant, and wished to verify he received some credit score. I advised him Duke was well-liked on TV and I needed to do the video games my bosses assigned me. We laughed about it.

However I keep in mind calling quite a lot of Arizona video games over time. I might see Lute and his spouse Bobbi (who handed away tragically of ovarian most cancers in 2001) — they had been a dynamic duo collectively, actually in love, respecting one another. They operated as such a crew.

Olson constructed Arizona from nowhere and took the Wildcats to the nationwide championship in 1997. Take into consideration that nice run within the match, beating three No. 1 seeds — North Carolina, Kansas after which Kentucky within the championship sport. They beat a Jayhawks crew that was among the best to fall in need of chopping down the nets as a champion. Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Scot Pollard, Jacque Vaughn, Jerod Haase … wow! Folks neglect that KU crew had one loss, towards Missouri, earlier than Arizona despatched them to the sidelines, child.

That Wildcats squad was particular with Bibby, Simon, Jason Terry, Michael Dickerson and Bennett Davidson, amongst others. Josh Pastner, now the pinnacle coach at Georgia Tech, was a walk-on on that squad and has mentioned he realized a lot from Olson.

Lute knew find out how to get probably the most out of his gamers, which was why that 1997 crew was in a position to make historical past. Perimeter play was so important in that title run — Olson understood the strengths of his crew.

It has been a troublesome yr for school basketball, shedding first Eddie Sutton then Lou Henson and now Olson. That is three Last 4 coaches who meant a lot to a number of faculties. Might all of them relaxation in peace.


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