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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bright future ahead for basketball


    As painful as it was to watch the men’s basketball season come to a close Sunday in a second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Villanova, there’s good news for fans: The future of Arizona basketball looks very bright.

    The Cats will return four of five starters next year, Marcus Williams is a superstar in the making and a powerful recruiting class is on the way – all of which will make Arizona a team to be feared as much as ever come next season.

    But Arizona fans’ biggest reason for optimism is the same as it has been for the last two decades: head coach Lute Olson.

    While this season had huge ups and downs and its end result was not what most hoped for, the man with the white hair still managed to extend two important streaks that help make Arizona one of college basketball’s elite programs.

    First, Arizona’s rout of Wisconsin Friday gave the Cats their 20th win of the season and extended Olson’s streak of consecutive 20-win seasons to 19.

    Perhaps even more prestigious was the fact that Arizona earned an NCAA tournament berth for the 22nd straight time under Olson, the longest active streak in the nation and only five shy of the University of North Carolina’s record.

    The entire university community should celebrate the contract extension granted to Lute Olson by the Arizona Board of Regents earlier this month, because it means he will remain at the helm until at least 2011, when he will be 76 years young.

    But the person least concerned about Olson’s age is in fact Olson, who constantly assures the media that he is healthy and his desire to continue coaching is as strong as ever.

    And if there was any question about his ability to relate to today’s youth, the host of athletes who give up the chance to start at other schools just to play for Coach O should settle the question for good.

    With as much as Lute Olson has done for Arizona and its basketball program for the past 23 seasons, he alone deserves to be the one to decide when to call it a career.

    And for that reason, the regents, the university and the fans will doubtless continue to stand behind Coach Olson as he approaches UNC’s record and pursues yet another national championship at Arizona.

    See you next year, coach.

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Caitlin Hall, Michael Huston, Ryan Johnson, Aaron Mackey and Tim Runestad.

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