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Tuesday January 16, 2001

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Olson returns to coach Cats

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By Keith Carmona

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Lute Olson was back at practice yesterday and has resumed his full-time duties as Arizona men's head basketball coach.

Acting head coach Jim Rosborough confirmed last night that Olson has ended his leave of absence and will be on the sidelines for UA's upcoming games against Southern California and UCLA at McKale Center.

Rosborough declined further comment, but said that Olson would issue a statement today giving specifics.

"Everyone's excited that we will now have our entire team back, top to bottom," said assistant coach Josh Pastner. "We were extremely happy to see Coach at practice (yesterday) and (I) am looking forward to getting back into the regular routine."

Olson took a leave of absence on Dec. 30 to be with his wife, Bobbi, who was battling the final stages of ovarian cancer. Bobbi Olson died on Jan. 1.

Senior forward Gene Edgerson, who will be back at practice from a week-long hiatus, said he was excited to see Olson in the McKale Center weight room yesterday afternoon.

"It was nice to walk in there and see Coach O working out, and he looked really good," Edgerson said. "I am sure that everything is fine with him and that he's taken care of everything with his family because if it wasn't, I know he'd be taking more time off."

While Olson was away, Rosborough garnered a 3-3 record as acting head coach. The Wildcats are 10-5 overall (3-1 Pacific 10 conference), after defeating the University of Washington 89-64 on Saturday.

Edgerson said that the team wasn't the same without Olson.

"Everyone on the team was asking Coach Ros everyday about when (Olson) would be back," he said. "We played some good basketball while Coach Ros was in charge, but I am excited to see how we'll do now that our team is at full strength."

Olson's first game back is Thursday at 8:30 p.m. against No. 24 USC.

"This was a really humbling experience for a team to go through, but now that everything seems to be back on track, I hope we tear through our conference schedule," Edgerson said. "With Coach O's return, we're going to become the team that everyone thought we could be."



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