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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “’84 season gained Wildcats respect in college basketball, Olson says”

    MARCH 27, 1985 – Despite the Wildcats’ early departure form the NCAA tournament, University of Arizona head coach Lute Olson said he still sees the 1984-85 season as a complete success.

    “”I think we made giant strides toward establishing this program as one of the best in the country,”” Olson said.

    The Wildcats finished the season at 21-10 after losing to the University of Alabama 50-41 in the first round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament, March 15.

    Olson said the prestige of just being in the tournament will help his 2-year-old program gain recognition.

    “”The University of Arizona is a name that people saw as one of the 64 bracketed teams.

    “”People are now more aware of us.””

    Olson said his last two recruiting classes are examples of the strides the UA program has made.

    “”We’ve got players who had other options but selected this program because they believed it had a future.””

    Two years ago the Wildcats were at a time with no future after finishing 1-17 under former coach Ben Lindsey.

    Lindsay was fired after only one season and Olson was hired.

    How bad was the program when Olson arrived?

    “”It was a laughingstock,”” Olson said.

    But Olson turned it around in two short years and has put the Wildcats on the road of respectability in college basketball.

    The Pacific 10 Conference’s poor showing in the tournament (0-4) has not altered Olson’s feelings that the conference is on the way up, he said.

    “”I’ve always said we are not as good a league as the ACC or Big East right now. I think the Pac-10 is headed in the right direction. The teams are sound and soundly coached. It’s just a matter of steps to make the league elite,”” Olson said.

    “”You don’t just wave a magic wand and say you’re as good as the Big East or ACC. It takes time.””

    One criticism of Pac-10 basketball, Olson said, is the quality of Western players as opposed to the city kids in the Midwestern and Eastern schools.

    “”People have said that the kids in the East work harder,”” Olson said.

    “”If this is true then it should be a challenge to the kids in the West. There are enough players in the West to be able to compete.””

    Next season, Olson said, he will look to several young players from this season’s team and several freshman recruits for continued winning.

    “”Success depends on returning players and the help of a few new players,”” Olson said.

    Key returnees next year are 6-6 freshman Craig McMillan, 6-9 freshman center Joe Turner, 6-2 junior guard Steve Kerr, 6-6- junior John Edgar, 6-3 sophomore guard Bruce Fraser, 6-7 junior forward David Haskin, and 6-7 freshman forward Rolf Jacobs.

    Several highly touted high-school seniors will also be Wildcats next season, but Olson said they probably will see only limited time.

    “”From high school to this level is a big difference,”” he said.

    The Wildcats will probably struggle in the early season next year because of a lack of starting experience, Olson said.

    The Wildcats have added a 15-game tour of Europe to the pre-season schedule, and Olson said he expects those games to give the team needed game experience.

     

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