It was revealed today that Coach Lute Olson has had a recent stroke. His doctor said his medical outlook is good, but it was his recommendation that Olson retire. I’m very sorry to hear the news and I know Wildcat fans everywhere send prayers and well wishes to Lute and his family.
Many times I have a little something to say, but not enough to write a full post about. Now I can twitter one liners (and hopefully keep the blog police at bay). You’ll find my twitter over on the sidebar.
Lute Olson is over and out.
Years ago when the kids were little, Roland and I bought season tickets to the UA football games. We never followed the basketball program much, but then there wasn’t that much to follow under Fred Snowden and Ben Lindsey. But in 1983, Lute Olson entered the picture. Even then, UA basketball didn’t capture our attention. But it captured Don’s. And a year or two later, it captured Daryl’s. The following year, I started watching them, and it didn’t take long to become a die-hard fan.
The year we won the NCAA championship (1997) was phenomenal. Beating three number 1 seeds had never been done before, and to say it was exciting doesn’t come close to describing that tournament. March Madness, indeed!
I remember the year Bobbi died (2001), I wanted the Wildcats to win the National Championship more than I had any other year. It wasn’t to be. We lost to Duke in the final game; the disappointment somehow felt like we had failed Bobbi.
We’ve always heard things about Lute that we tried to ignore. He was rude in restaurants; he hated the press. But we always knew he loved Arizona basketball, and we loved him. He was a great recruiter, and his players were students first and basketball players second. He brought honor to the program and to the University.
In the last year, things have gone south. For a man who taught precision timing when it came to passing a ball or running a layup, he has not shown that good timing in events this season. We forgave him last year for the abrupt leave of absence, attributing it to some medical or family emergency. It was really none of our business, and I felt we should leave the man alone to work out his personal issues. But upon his return, he got rid of assistant coaches Kevin O’Neill, Miles Simon and Josh Pastner. He rejected recruits and sought out new ones, promising them he would be around for three more years. He started the practice season, swearing he was fine and promising this to be an exciting year. Suddenly, the announcement that he was done.
He has left a mess, and there can be very few Wildcat fans who aren’t disappointed in him. And it’s a shame. He had 23 GREAT years with the program, but the distaste of this last one will overshadow it.
I’m sorry to see Lute go; even more sorry about the way it happened. But I am optimistic about Wildcat basketball. I have no doubt we will attract another great coach. When you consider how Mike Stoops has turned the football program around, and the prestige of the basketball program here, the athletic department is in a good position to bring in someone who will take us into the future with gusto.
We wish you well, Lute. We’ll always be grateful for what you brought to the program. We will remember your accomplishments and honor you for the legacy you leave behind. Go enjoy your grandchildren; you deserve your retirement.
And GO Wildcats!
Alice came to town last week. She has been having trouble with her computer and wanted to have her favorite computer technician look at it. He happens to live here in the Valley, and he also happens to be my big brother. Alice really loves Daryl.
We had dinner Friday night with Glenda and gabbed all evening. On Saturday, Alice went to have lunch with her 91 year old mother-in-law. Later that day, we went to church at Central. It was a lot of fun to see people’s reaction to her walking in. Hardly anyone knew she was in town. She was a part of Central for over 25 years, and really left her mark on the staff and history of our church. She is deeply loved by many, many people, and they were delighted to welcome her back for a visit.
I took her to Casa Grande on Sunday afternoon where her brother from Tucson met us. She intended to stay with him until Wednesday, but found her computer was still having a problem, so John brought her back up on Tuesday to see Daryl again. (He found the problem app and got her fixed right up.) It was a delightful change of plans for me because I got to have her for one more (unexpected) night. When she left, we made promises of seeing each other more often. I think it’s time for me to plan a trip to the northwest again!
Love you, Alice! It was so great having you here.