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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cutting off the right arm

    Former UA guard Hassan Adams, right, gets congratulated by former UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough after Arizona beat Stanford 76-72 Feb. 19, 2006 in Stanford, Calif. Rosborough was Arizonas lead scout on the Cardinal for a number of years.
    Former UA guard Hassan Adams, right, gets congratulated by former UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough after Arizona beat Stanford 76-72 Feb. 19, 2006 in Stanford, Calif. Rosborough was Arizona’s lead scout on the Cardinal for a number of years.

    Everyone knows about the gentleman with the white hair roaming the sidelines at Arizona games.

    For the last 18 years at Arizona and another nine at Iowa, Lute Olson has had a partner of sorts. Another gentleman with white hair stood by his side when the Wildcats won the 1997 title and even took over for him when Olson took a five-game leave of absence in 2000-01.

    Associate head coach Jim Rosborough was the E to Olson’s Vince. He took care of the dirty work, the academics and the Lute Olson basketball camp, helped in scheduling and did a plethora of other activities.

    “”I think the duo of coach Rosborough and coach Olson for all those years played well against each other,”” said Jack Murphy, the Denver Nuggets video coordinator and former coordinator of basketball operations at Arizona. “”On days when coach Rosborough needed to put an arm around a player after practice that maybe coach Olson had gotten on, Roz was there to do that. On days when a player needed a swift kick in the rear end to get started and do things the right way, coach Olson was there to do that.””

    Rosborough held a dear place in the hearts of Arizona’s players. When news surfaced that Rosborough declined an offer to take a job in an administrative role and subsequently was let go of his duties, players and other members of Arizona’s family tore up his phone lines.

    Some of the players, as you can imagine, were stunned to learn about Rosborough’s departure.

    “”I was really surprised when they told me he was leaving,”” former forward Marcus Williams said in a phone interview from Seattle, where he’s working out in preparation for the NBA Draft. “”He had been there so long that it was a shock. I wish him the best, and I’m praying for him.””

    Rosborough was not only an integral piece of Arizona’s coaching staff, he filled the program with integrity. He was a straight-shooter. If he didn’t have the answer, he would let you know. He had an honest desire to help every student-athlete that came through the program.

    “”I’d go in his office, sit down and talk to him about stuff,”” Williams said. “”He’s always made himself available to players.””

    He kept people on their toes, too, with his sense of humor. Not a phone call went by without him suggesting to me that I change my ringback tone to Norah Jones or another artist from his larger-than-life musical tastes.

    At practice, he was just as likely to dish out the jokes as receive them. His pregame speeches were “”the craziest,”” Williams said. His film sessions were often “”hilarious.””

    “”He was a funny guy, a lot of players related to him,”” Williams said. “”He was probably my favorite coach.””

    On the court, “”he’d push you.””

    Off the court, “”he helped me a lot with the adjustment of college. … He taught me some things about being a man,”” Williams said.

    A change in the coaching staff has been discussed internally for a while. Arizona’s defensive shortcomings were too much to bear without an ax coming down on someone.

    Josh Pastner is a young and ambitious recruiter 24/7, and Miles Simon is a recently hired, former MOP of the Final Four for Arizona.

    It’s hard to make sense of letting either one of the two go, but releasing an old friend was likely even harder for Olson.

    “”You’re always surprised when somebody that’s been there so long and done so much isn’t gonna be around anymore,”” Murphy said. “”The decision was between coach Olson and coach Rosborough.

    “”I don’t think coach Olson wanted coach Roz to leave the program. Even coach Olson was surprised that he’s leaving the program, but I think coach Rosborough did what he feels is best for him and his family. I think ultimately the person who decided whether he would leave the program or not was coach Rosborough.””

    Though he might resurface as a special adviser to Jim Livengood or come to McKale Center to watch games, there will be a void on the sideline. When Olson walks down the bench, he won’t be able to probe the mind of the man he relied on for more than two decades.

    In the locker room, he won’t have the same man to share the pain of losing games nor the joy of winning.

    “”It’ll be odd to watch Arizona games and not see them on the sidelines,”” Murphy said.

    Video and recruiting coordinator Matt Brase said he has known Rosborough practically from birth.

    He’s been friends with Rosborough’s sons Greg and Jon his whole life.

    “”You can talk about anything with coach Roz,”” Brase said. “”He’s just a real cool guy.””

    Although Rosborough, who did not respond to the Wildcat’s repeated attempts to reach him, would never say it, the coaching change had to blindside him.

    Williams and Murphy both spoke with him on the phone and reported that he was in good spirits.

    As Murphy walked on the Riverwalk in San Antonio yesterday after the Nuggets’ Game One upset of the San Antonio Spurs, he described Rosborough as “”one of the lifebloods of the program.””

    “”He’s someone who helped me be where I am today, for better or for worse,”” Murphy said. “”He’s been a great friend and mentor and leader and not just to me but anybody who came through the Arizona basketball program.””

    Added Murphy: “”In my life, I haven’t met many people that have as a good of a heart as coach Rosborough. He just has a great heart and cares about everybody.””

    When Williams dialed Rosborough’s digits, the roles were reversed.

    “”I told him, ‘Keep your head up, things happen for a reason, and you just have to move forward,’ “” Williams said.

    Funny how Rosborough once told many a player the same thing.

    “”There’s changes in everybody’s life,”” Murphy said, “”and it’s just one of those things.””

    – Roman Veytsman is a journalism senior. He can be reached at
    sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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