Tag:Lute Olson
Posted on: February 5, 2010 6:46 am

Report: Arizona to cut scholarships, visits

Arizona will reduce the number of future scholarships, July recruiting days and official visits the men's basketball program can use because of recruiting violations tied to an AAU tournament held on its campus while Lute Olson was still the coach, according to a report by Jeff Goodman at FoxSports.com.

An official announcement could come Friday.

Arizona reported a potential violation in 2008 after Olson, now retired, sent a letter to booster club officials asking them to financially support the Cactus Classic -- an AAU tournament that was held at the McKale Center for three consecutive Mays. The event brought many of the nation's top prospects to the Arizona campus and was thus regarded as a major recruiting tool for the Wildcats.

The letter to boosters had Olson's electronic signature on it.

Still, the Hall of Fame coach denied ever seeing or approving the letter.

Sean Miller now coaches Arizona.

Nobody on his staff was involved in this matter.

The Wildcats are 12-10 overall, 6-4 in the Pac-10 in Miller's first season.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 29, 2008 12:14 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2008 12:16 pm

Dear Gary (on consistent coaches)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Lute Olson (is the) best ever. Didn't get any free handouts. Recruited all the best talent away from UCLA and USC. Huggins is a scumbag!!!!!!! Parrish likes Huggins because he's a redneck like Parrish is.

-- Colin

This was a response to Saturday's post about Bob Huggins, the one where I asked "in terms of strictly winning and losing, how many coaches over the past 25 years have been as good and steady as Huggins has been?" My premise was based on the fact that Huggins has produced 22 winning records in 23 seasons as a Division I head coach while winning at least 20 games in 20 of those years, and though Colin's reaction was laced with the stupidity that some extreme fans possess, his central point about Lute Olson was on target, and I absolutely believe that Olson would be a strong contender in any conversation about the most consistent college basketball coaches of the past 25 years.

Olson coached Arizona to 23 consecutive NCAA tournaments before taking a leave of absence and subsequently retiring, and his last losing season was 1983-84. He also took Iowa to five consecutive NCAA tournaments before moving to Arizona, so I wouldn't have a problem if somebody put Olson first on the list, placed Roy Williams right behind him and then started the debate between Huggins, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Jim Calhoun, John Calipari, Rick Barnes, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, Jim Boeheim, Bill Self, Ben Howland and Bruce Pearl (if you count his years at Division II Southern Indiana).

Who am I missing?

And again, remember, I'm not talking about national titles, Final Fours or anything like that, exactly. I'm talking about a list of the men over the past 25 years who most consistently coached successful teams, i.e., the men who can be relied upon most to produce a winner year in and year out.
Posted on: November 7, 2008 11:07 am

A bullet-riddled target sheet? Seriously?

The ongoing (and never-ending) Lute Olson saga took another turn this week.

And this one is really bizarre.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, Olson's doctor filed a restraining order against Olson's ex-wife, Christine, the same day he announced his retirement. The newspaper reported that the restraining order was filed after Christine Toretti allegedly threatened Olson's doctor verbally and then by -- ready for this? -- placing a bullet-riddled target sheet on his chair in his office.

That's straight-up gangster.

And I really have no idea why this couldn't be a great reality series.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 24, 2008 2:13 pm

Pennell to coach Arizona

Russ Pennell will be Arizona's interim coach, the school is expected to announce Friday afternoon.

According to a source, the decision to go with Pennell came after associate head coach Mike Dunlap's request (formal or otherwise) to be Lute Olson's permanent successor was not granted. Pennell, 47, joined the Arizona staff in May. Last season, he was the radio analyst for Arizona State, where he had previously been an assistant under Rob Evans.

Arizona will conduct a national search to find a permanent replacement.

Among the names sure to surface are Gonzaga's Mark Few and Pitt's Jamie Dixon.

Posted on: October 24, 2008 6:42 am
Edited on: October 24, 2008 2:21 pm

Dear Gary (on possible Arizona replacements)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How about a list of coaches or your views on who Arizona may consider to replace Lute Olson? ... I think Tennessee's Bruce Pearl would be a good candidate (after he buys a suit).

-- UKFan68

A Kentucky fan trying to get Pearl out of the SEC East, huh?

You sneaky devil you.

Seriously, what Pearl has done at Tennessee in three seasons is remarkable, so you'll get no argument from me about whether he'd be good at Arizona. But as I said minutes after Thursday's news came down, the two obvious top candidates to replace Olson on a permanent basis should be Gonzaga's Mark Few and Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon.

Would either come right now?

No, not at this minute.

Both have Final Four-caliber teams and neither would relocate less than two weeks before Arizona's first exhibition. So what that means is that the Wildcats will likely use an interim this season (it'll be assistant Russ Pennell, according to a source) and then conduct a national search that should start and stop with Few or Dixon.

You want some other possibilities?

VCU's Anthony Grant would be intriguing, as would Washington State's Tony Bennett. And if athletic director Jim Livengood wanted to "keep it in the family" he could tab former Arizona player and assistant Josh Pastner, who is now at Memphis. Obviously, Pastner is only 31 and without head coaching experience. But if you think he's going to be good (and just about everybody does) then why not go for it if you are compelled to move quickly and strongly?

I mean, Billy Donovan was 28 when he got his first head coaching gig.

John Calipari was 29.

Those two have done OK, haven't they?

But again, I'm just throwing out Grant, Bennett and Pastner as back-up plans, because the first two options should be Few and Dixon. Both are experienced and proven winners with west-coast ties (Few has been in the WCC forever and is from Oregon; Dixon is from the Los Angeles-area and assisted Ben Howland at Northern Arizona in the mid-1990s) and still young enough (Few is 45, Dixon 42) to where it's reasonable to think they'll be going strong for at least another 15 years. And, yes, I honestly believe one of them (if not both) would accept an offer after this season under certain circumstances because they will both be facing revamped rosters in 2009-10, making it an ideal time to leave if they were ever going to leave (Gonzaga will lose Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, Micah Downs and perhaps Austin Daye after this season; Pitt will lose Sam Young, Levance Fields and perhaps DeJuan Blair).

Now I know what you're thinking, Gonzaga and Pitt fans.

You're thinking that Few and Dixon have already turned down multiple opportunities to leave, that they love their jobs and wouldn't mind retiring from their current positions. I acknowledge all of that to be true. But you must understand Arizona is a different animal, one of the top 10 programs in America, and that it would be difficult for either to pass on this gig if they felt comfortable with the administration and received the money Arizona is capable of dishing out.

As for Few specifically, at what point does he become bored killing folks in the WCC? You’ve got to think he'll want to try something new at some point, and Arizona would be a great situation, about as good a situation as would ever present itself. So those would be the reasons for Few to leave Gonzaga, to face a new challenge and see if he can run one of the nation's power programs.

And trust me, he'd be great at Arizona.

But so would Dixon.

And to the Pitt fans who have already emailed to inform me that if Dixon was in a hurry to get back west he would've taken the California job after last season, I'll just ask whether you ever considered whether it's possible Dixon rejected California because he knew Arizona would be opening soon? It would be crazy to take the Cal job if you thought you could get Arizona a year or two later, wouldn't it? And as I pointed out in Thursday's column, nobody in basketball circles really thought Olson was going to last more than one more year, meaning it's pretty safe to assume Dixon saw this day coming and has long known he'd be an obvious candidate.

Anyway, that's my long answer to a short question.

Arizona should hire an interim coach, get through this season and then pursue Few or Dixon.

Assuming the Wildcats could get one of them, the program would be set for 15 years.

And then these tumultuous times would seem like a distant memory.

Posted on: October 23, 2008 12:40 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2008 1:03 pm

Olson stepping down at Arizona

Lute Olson is stepping down as Arizona's basketball coach, a source has confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The development comes less than a week after the start of official practice and one day after Olson, 74, missed a workout and scheduled speaking engagement at the Rotary Club of Tucson luncheon for what was deemed "health-related" reasons by Arizona officials, including athletic director Jim Livengood. Associate head coach Mike Dunlap is expected to replace Olson on an interim basis.

ESPN's Dick Vitale first reported the news Thursday.

A message left on the cell phone of Livengood by CBSSports.com was not immediately returned.

Looking ahead, it's reasonable for fans of Gonzaga and Pittsburgh to start worrying because Mark Few and Jamie Dixon will almost certainly develop into serious candidates to replace Olson on a permanent basis. Few obviously has strong west-coast ties while Dixon, from the Los Angeles area, is familiar with the state of Arizona given how he assisted Ben Howland at Northern Arizona in the mid-1990s.

Posted on: October 2, 2008 2:50 pm

Arizona's Olson engaged again

Just five months after reaching a divorce settlement, 74-year-old Lute Olson is engaged again.

This time to a 47-year-old woman named Kelly Pugnea.

"She's a fantastic lady,'' Olson told the Tucson Citizen. "Everyone who meets her finds her very, very special.''

No wedding date has been set for the Arizona coach.

But assuming things move forward, this will be the third marriage for Olson.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 16, 2008 2:45 pm

Let's not worry about that investigation, guys

I clicked on GoAzCats.com, curious how it played the good news/bad news of Monday.
Turns out, it just ignored the bad news altogether.
And there's a solid reason for that, I guess.
See, that Jim Storey character who runs the Cactus Classic tournament that Lute Olson was apparently trying to help with funds (against NCAA rules) also happens to be the creator and principal of GoAzCats.com, the fan website that focuses on all things Arizona. Well, not all things. It currently features news on Abdul Gaddy's commitment. And the Wildcats' loss in football to New Mexico. And Mike Stoops' subsequent press conference. But it noticeably ignores the fact that Olson is under investigation for allegedly trying to raise funds for Storey, which suggests editorial freedom isn't much of a priority as GoAzCats.com. 

On the other hand, the site did break the story on Gaddy's commitment.
So maybe it's just an old-fashioned trade-off.
I'll feed you news if you ignore mine.

Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com