Lute Olson is Arizona Basketball.
11 regular season conference championships.
Seven Pac-10 Coach of the Year awards.
Five Final Fours.
Two National Coach of the Year honors.
One National Championship.
The 80-year old Hall-of-Famer is still visible at games in the Old Pueblo where the court bears the name of he and his deceased wife, Bobbi.
“Cool Hand Lute” is still watching the Wildcats and isn’t overly thrilled about what he’s seeing from Sean Miller’s team. Despite a 20-3 record and share of the Pac-12 lead with Utah, Olson is concerned with the Cats’ lackluster effort in road losses at UNLV, Oregon State and last weekend to ASU.
“None of those three teams are listed very high in the RPI,” Olson told Sports360AZ.com in a phone interview Thursday morning. “I think the loss at ASU will [eliminate] them from being a number one [seed]. I think Gonzaga will [be] number one from the west.”
Olson believes Miller’s quest to reach that elusive first Final Four will likely be a far more difficult road than last season when UA came within seconds on reaching the goal, falling to Wisconsin in a back-and-forth regional final in Anaheim.
“I’m concerned,” he said. “Just as a lot of the Wildcat fans are.”
One player who will likely play the biggest role in the ‘Cats tournament success is senior point guard T.J. McConnell who has frequently helped jump-start UA at both ends of the floor this season.
“He knows he’s going to have to shoot more and be more involved offensively,” Olson explained. “He’s really a good player.”
UA will look to bounce back this weekend in the northwest with games against Washington Friday and Washington State Sunday before returning to Tucson to play four of their final six at McKale Center leading into next month’s Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.