Lute’s grandson named assistant

Lance Madden

Lute Olson’s grandson, Matt Brase, was named an assistant coach for the UA men’s basketball team on Thursday. UA interim head coach Russ Pennell’s father, Dewey Pennell, was named the director of basketball operations for the team.

“”We were trying to get in NCAA compliance,”” Pennell said. “”You can’t have volunteer coaches anymore in basketball. … It’s more of a title to make sure we are within the rules.””

Brase, 26, is a former Wildcat letterman who has been the program’s administrative assistant and video coordinator since October 2006.

Meanwhile, Dewey Pennell’s position is a paid position, his son said, but it’s not a full-time job.

The director of basketball operations is allowed to be on the floor and is allowed to encourage the team, but nothing else.

“”Honest truth,”” Russ Pennell said. “”That’s what it says. He can stand there and encourage. He can’t coach, supposedly.””

And still, he actively participated on the bench Thursday.

“”He was chewing me out,”” forward Jamelle Horne said of the elder Pennell. “”He told me he’d pull me out if I didn’t get back on defense. But that’s what we need.””

While Russ Pennell roamed the UA sidelines for the first time against an opponent as the interim coach, his father sat on the halfcourt side of the bench, along with assistant coach Reggie Geary and Brase. Associate head coach Mike Dunlap sat at the south end of the bench near the baseline.

Russ Pennell said Dunlap carried over the trait of sitting on the end of the bench – an irregularity for coaches in college – from the NBA.

“”He said when you sit at the end of the bench … he’s got sight of all the guys on our team,”” the younger Pennell said.

Senior guard David Bagga said he likes having Dunlap at the end of the bench because it gives players a different option when seeking assistance on the sideline.

“”One of the things he said was, ‘Tell the bench to get into it. Help your teammates out and encourage them,'”” Bagga said of Dunlap.

Russ Pennell made an impact on the Wildcats in his first game as the interim coach. Freshman guard Garland Judkins said Russ Pennell is “”one of the most intelligent coaches I’ve been around.””

Added Horne: “”I feel like Pennell’s a real cool, calm and collected kind of guy. Whether we’re playing Kansas in a couple months or a D-II team for our first game, he always stays positive. That’s what I love about R.P., man.””

The interim coach said he didn’t feel any added pressure leading the team for the first time.

“”It just felt like a basketball game,”” he said. “”I think when you get out in those situations, you totally forget that you’re the interim coach at Arizona. You’re trying to win.””