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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arenas: UA needs big-time recruiter

    Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas watches from the bench during a 124-115 Wizards loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night in Indianapolis. Arenas, a former Wildcat, said the next UA mens basketball head coach needs to be able to bring in highly-talented recruits to get the program back to where it was under Lute Olson.
    Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas watches from the bench during a 124-115 Wizards’ loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night in Indianapolis. Arenas, a former Wildcat, said the next UA men’s basketball head coach needs to be able to bring in highly-talented recruits to get the program back to where it was under Lute Olson.

    INDIANAPOLIS – When Lute Olson sat down in the living room of fresh-faced high school recruit Gilbert Arenas, all it took was a handshake to seal the deal.

    And, of course, the national championship ring on Olson’s hand.

    “”When I looked at Lute Olson, it was more of the résumé and who he was,”” Arenas recalled. “”He was more of a father figure instead of being a player’s coach.

    “”It was more for what he had to show. When he came to my house, he used that ring to do all the talking,”” he added. “”Slammed it on the table and I said ‘I’m here.'””

    Which is why Arizona needs another big-name coach to continue the tradition, according to Arenas, one of 11 ex-Wildcats in the NBA, who spoke candidly about UA hoops with the Daily Wildcat in the Wizards’ locker room after their 124-115 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday in Indianapolis.

    Wizards’ head coach Ed Tapscott opted not to play Arenas on Sunday after making his season debut the previous night.

    Arenas, who missed 156 of his last 173 games due to three knee surgeries, admitted that he hasn’t followed UA basketball closely since Olson’s season-long leave of absence in 2007, saying “”I’m a Coach O guy. Once he decided he was going to take a leave of absence, I decided we can’t watch right now because it’s going to be a struggle.””

    He said the UA’s brand name needed to be restored by hiring of a big-time coach who could continue the Point Guard U tradition.

    Here’s what else Arenas had to say about the future of Arizona basketball:

    What does Arizona need in a head coach?

    They need to get a great, powerful coach that can get recruits. That’s what Arizona was good at. Everybody’s backing out, so we have to go after a strong, strong coach. They just need to bring somebody in who’s strong who can bring recruits because that’s all that matters right now, bringing back the tradition of the Wildcats.

    Have you heard any names out there that would be candidates?

    I heard (current Minnesota head coach) Tubby Smith was out there. That would be great. Other than that, unless you get a coach from the NBA, one of these assistant coaches that has a big name, you have to go after someone like Tubby Smith to see if you can push him away from the small program he’s at.

    If you were in charge, who would you hire?

    Probably Tubby. He had great recruiting over there in Kentucky.

    Should Arizona focus on a big-résumé coach or go for an up-and-coming with potential?

    The program is so big that it needs a big name for players to come back. When you were a guard, if (you) want to go to the NBA, (you) go to Arizona because they produce great guards. You need something to lure kids there.

    You know the fans expect a Tournament berth every season, how hard will that be for the next coach?

    It depends who it is. If a coach can come in there and put some discipline in those players, have them playing the right way, there’s no way we shouldn’t be in the tournament. That’s why certain teams stay in tournaments so long because they’re always bringing in new recruits and keeping the guys playing.

    Richard Jefferson said you love to make bets. Where would you put your money in terms of who’s the next coach?

    I gotta see the candidates. I lost $100 betting on Arizona. I had them going to the Final Four.

    Really?

    You’re a fan, you gotta. Once they got (into the Tournament), I figured, “”Hey, we’re ‘Zona.””

    Did you get a chance to watch Friday’s game against Louisville?

    A little bit. Yeah. You know what, since we’re talking about that, why were we pressing?

    They’ve done it all year.

    Who cares! That’s not what we do. (laughs) Jesus Christ.

    That’s what they’ve been doing this year.

    I don’t understand. When people press, there’s only two things that’s gonna happen: You’re going to get the ball or let them score an easy layup. Make them do something at halfcourt like Michigan State does.

    So you’re bracket’s a little messed up now?

    Yeah. (laughs)

    Do you keep in touch with any of your teammates?

    Luke Walton, Jason Gardner – he actually texted me last night after the game.

    What did Gardner text you last night?

    He texted me before the game saying: “”I heard you’re playing.”” Then after the game: “”A year off and you can do that?”” (laughs)

    Editor’s Note: Arenas made his season debut on Thursday and scored 15 points with 10 assists.

    Do you guys ever talk about what’s going on in Tucson?

    Not really. We still got the debate, who’s the top-5 best players ever.

    Who’s in your “”Fave five?””

    Besides me?

    Not necessarily.

    I have Sean Elliot, Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudemire. … See I’m selfish, I’m all guards. Jason Gardner.

    Jefferson also said he donated $3.5 million to the new practice facility to shut you up.

    The thing with that is, he couldn’t get anything else on his own because the name isn’t big enough. (laughs) Once I got there, I had the bigger name, and when I left I got the bigger name. On draft day he called me, and said, “”I’m the first one picked so obviously I’m better.”” That was his message to me and ever since then we’ve been bickering. (laughs)

    What’s your next response back to him?

    I just laughed when he was traded to Milwaukee. That’s funny to me.

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