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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Lute Olson suffers stroke, recovering in hospital


(Courtesy Arizona Athletics) Legendary Arizona basketball head coach Lute Olson (right) talks to Mike Bibby (10). Olson helped hoist the Wildcats to prominence in the college basketball world. 

Former University of Arizona men’s basketball coach Lute Olson suffered “a minor stroke” sometime this weekend, according to a press release from Banner University Medical Center.

Olson was apparently admitted to the hospital on Saturday, according to the report. 

A UA Athletics department press release called Olson “an icon of our men’s basketball program,” adding that Olson was an “embodiment of greatness to Arizona Athletics, the University of Arizona and the Tucson community.”

Current men’s basketball coach Sean Miller, speaking on behalf of the men’s basketball program, also released a statement expressing his team’s sentiments.

“My personal prayers and best wishes are with you, coach O,” Miller said.

Olson ended his career with an overall coaching record of 780 wins to 280 loses, and finished his tenure at the UA as the all-time leader in men’s basketball wins, both at the university and in the Pac-12 Conference, going 589-187 in 24 years.

Beginning his career at the University of Iowa, where he guided the Hawkeyes to the 1979-80 Final Four, Olson took on a struggling but historically rich program in Tucson in 1983-84 and led that ‘Cats to an 11-17 record. It would be the last losing season of his career.

What followed was a nearly unprecedented run of NCAA Tournament berths and Pac-12 domination. Starting in the 1984-85 season, Olson and his Wildcat teams would be invited to 23 straight March Madness tournaments, winning the Pac-12 regular season 10 times in that span.

The pinnacle of his career came in 1997, when after three previous unsuccessful trips to the Final Four, Olson and a team led by super freshman and future NBA star Mike Bibby and junior-sharpshooter Miles Simon finally broke through, beating Rick Pitino’s Kentucky Wildcats in overtime, 84-79.

It was during that magical six-game run that Olson uttered perhaps his most famous line. During the press conference leading up to the ‘Cats game against No. 1 seeded Kansas, Olson was asked about the perceived underdog status of his team.

“Who’s David and who’s Goliath?” he asked, incredulously.

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