Olson a finalist for national award
UA men's basketball head coach Lute Olson was named one of the five finalists for the National Coach of the Year Award on Monday.
The winner of the Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award, which is presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Chip Hilton Sports, will be announced at the Final Four in Indianapolis on April 3.
Olson was away on vacation in San Diego with his wife Bobbi and was not available for comment.
The other four finalists for the award are Mike Montgomery of Stanford, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Howie Dickenman of Central Connecticut State and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse.
UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough, who has been by Olson's side for 20 years, including 11 at Arizona, said if he had a vote, Olson would be the recipient.
"I would match him up with anyone in the business," Rosborough said. "This is a guy that put together a miracle this year."
The "miracle" that Rosborough was talking about is the 27-7 record the UA men's basketball team accomplished, despite starting three freshman for the bulk of the Pacific 10 Conference season and suffering through injuries, transfers, defections and redshirts. The Wildcats were co-champs of the Pac-10 and the No. 1 seed in the West Region of the NCAA tournament.
Olson, who lost out to Montgomery for Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors, reached two milestones this season - 400 wins at Arizona and 600 career victories. He also had the court at McKale Center named after him.
But even with the knowledge of all these accolades, Rosborough still thinks that Olson doesn't get the national respect that he deserves.
"I've been with him a long time, and it has always been baffling to me that he hasn't been recognized nationally for what he has done," he said. "I have no question that he is a basketball genius in terms of on the court teaching, demanding fundamentals and recognizing. He sees things in practice and recreates them. He is as good or better than anyone in the business.
"I don't know if it is his persona or his 'Cool Hand Lute' personality, but I don't know why he hasn't been recognized more nationally as a flat out basketball genius in the business."
Rosborough also said that he could not understand how Olson was not named Pac-10 Coach of the Year, despite UA being the co-champs of the conference and having earned the No. 1 West Region seed as a result of beating Montgomery's Cardinal twice.
"I like Mike Montgomery up at Stanford, but I was sick to my stomach when he (Olson) didn't get coach of the year in the Pac-10," he said. "We beat those guys twice."