Arizona’s basketball program isn’t in a very good place right now, having been bounced from the NCAA tournament in the first round last month and surrounded by uncertainty related to an ongoing FBI bribery investigation. But for one afternoon, at least, Wildcat fans were able to wax nostalgic about the program’s greatest era.
That would be the 24 years during which Arizona was led by Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, who was honored by the school Thursday with a bronze statue outside McKale Center.
“The statue of Lute Olson. Immortalized forever.” pic.twitter.com/jK6AAjE1z8
— Ryan Kelapire (@RKelapire) April 13, 2018
That’s about right. pic.twitter.com/YNw7qFCBK8
— Ryan Finley (@ryan_finley) April 13, 2018
Olson led Arizona to a 589-187 record from 1983-2007, winning 11 regular-season Pac-10 championships and four conference tournament titles as well as the 1997 NCAA championship. The Wildcats reached the NCAA tourney 23 consecutive times, only missing out in his first season after coming from Iowa.
Dave Heeke says statue was placed on north end of McKale partly because of the connection to campus. (Olson initially preferred south end)
— Bruce Pascoe (@BrucePascoe) April 12, 2018
Among those who attended the statue unveiling was Cedric Dempsey, the athletic director who hired Olson in 1983, former Arizona football coach Dick Tomey and current basketball coach Sean Miller. Several former players spoke including Pete Williams, Matt Muehlebach and Damon Stoudamire.