Et tu, Lute. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on March 28th, 2008

The scene is Tucson

Normally, I wouldn’t make a separate post for a single link to a story from another site (especially one at ESPN, which doesn’t need any more hype), but I figured you might be busy watching games and may not notice this. Apparently, Andy Katz has been busy covering the rest of the college basketball world as he spoke with Lute Olson about his sabaticcal along with several other issues.

For those who don’t care to read the rather long article, here’s a quick summary:
– Took the season off to deal with stress relating to a divorce from his second wife (his first wife died of 47 years died of cancer in 2001).
– Olson will be the head coach next year and intends to fulfill the rest of his contract through 2011 and did not mention any plans of stopping after that.
– Arizona is going back on its previous oral commitment to name interim coach Kevin O’Neill as Olson’s eventual successor. O’Neill hasn’t decided what he is doing next year although he still has one year left on his contract as Lute’s assistant.
– The Wildcats will go back to their roots as a running team instead of the half-court offense that O’Neill installed this year.
– According to the article, it seems like Jerryd Bayless is seriously considering leaving while Chase Buddinger is probably returning.
– Lute is healthy contrary to previous reports, but had to stay quiet on the issue during his leave because of Arizona laws.
– He thinks they can contend for the 2009 national title.

I’ll avoid commenting on Lute’s personal life and health other than to say that he is in a lot better shape (based on what the article says) than most guys his age I have seen.

The more interesting thing is how the Arizona athletic department is basically going back on their word. I can understand wanting to go with Olson because he is a legend particularly in that area of the country. I just don’t understand why they would give O’Neill a commitment back in December. Even though the Wildcats were playing well at the point of the verbal commitment, the AD should know enough to realize that a coach’s performance isn’t judged in December.

Lute Olson is coming back for his job

The other thing I found interesting is that Olson expects to contend for the 2009 title. I guess I wouldn’t expect him to say that he doesn’t expect to contend, but going from a bubble team to champion is a stretch. It all depends on whether Bayless and Buddinger return. Going to a wide-open offense would definitely utilize their talents more than a half-court offense. I know everybody is really high on Bayless, but personally I like Buddinger’s game more and I think he will end up being a very good pro. If both come back and they add their excellent recruiting class, they will be a darkhorse contender as they lost a lot of very close games. In either case, it’s good to have Lute (and hopefully Arizona) back, but I hope that O’Neill gets a good job because this smells a lot like what Miami and Pat Riley did to Stan Van Gundy although Olson had a much better reason for taking time off.

nvr1983 (1318 Posts)


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