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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


An expanded look at the Lute Olson coaching tree

Chris Coduto
Retired Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson in McKale Center in 2007. Olson led Arizona to four Final Fours and one national title.

When former Arizona head coach Lute Olson ventured out west to Tucson in 1983, he had the potential to mold the program to what is today.

Since his time at Arizona from 1983 until 2008, before interim head coaches took his place for two seasons, Olson completed every order in the book. He led Arizona to a national championship, four Final Fours, 11 conference championships and evolved the program into a national powerhouse.

With decades of coaching under his belt and the 35 NBA draft picks that he mentored, as well as the aspiring assistant coaches, Olson developed a mammoth-sized coaching tree in basketball. Whether it’s the collegiate level or in the NBA, the fraternity of coaches resembles just how influential of a coach Olson was.

Related: Ex-Wildcat Steve Kerr leads Warriors to record season, matching his 1995-1996 Bulls the entire way.

Steve Kerr

Kerr is probably the most recognizable name because he’s arguably more valuable to the game than Olson is at this point. Being a five-time champion as a player for the Phil Jackson Chicago Bulls teams and Gregg Popovich in 2003, Kerr understands the pedigree of a champion.

Kerr is now the head coach for the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors and has a chance to make history Wednesday night, going for the best regular season record in NBA history previously held by the Chicago Bulls who went 72-10.

The Warriors are striving for 73 wins and it’s ironic that Kerr is coaching a team that is attempting to push over a team’s record that he was a part of in the 1995-1996 season.

Luke Walton

The young and restless that is the son of basketball legend Bill Walton has taken his talents from on the court to the sidelines, sitting right next to Kerr every night.

Walton, like Kerr, won a championship as a player and a coach, but Walton proved he is more capable of being the enforcer behind Kerr. In his second year coaching, Walton led the Warriors to a 24-0 start with Kerr out recovering from back surgery. Unfortunately for Walton, those wins will go straight over to Kerr.

Walton received a small dose of what it’s like to control the reins of a team and it may appear easy with Stephen Curry at the helm, but Walton could very well end up in a bigger market job like the Los Angeles Lakers or the New York Knicks, considering his ties to both franchises.

Josh Pastner

Pastner not only won a national championship at Arizona in 1997, but also emerged as Olson’s right-hand man in terms of handling players’ personalities from 2002-2008.

Pastner took his talents to the Memphis Tigers, replacing John Calipari in 2009, and held a winning percentage of 69.6 percent, but never advanced past the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Pastner coached players such as Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton and Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black.

Pastner recently accepted the head coaching position at Georgia Tech and will coach in the almighty Atlantic Coast Conference.

Damon Stoudamire

The former NBA Rookie of the Year was an assistant under both Pastner and Sean Miller recently, but took over the head coaching duties of Pacific University in Stockton, California.

Stoudamire has the opportunity to coach in the West Coast Conference that has been, for the most part, dominated by Gonzaga in recent years.

He currently has a 0-0 record as a head coach, but 2016 could be the imprint of “Mighty Mouse” and what to expect from the program for years to come.

Mike Bibby

Another member of the 1997 national championship squad, Bibby decided to return to his alma mater Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix to coach his son Michael Bibby Jr., after spending 14 seasons in the NBA.

The father-son duo managed to capture two state championships in three years and Bibby is expected to return for another year to coach high school basketball in the Valley of the Sun.

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