Hall of Fame basketball coach Lute Olson dies at 85

Hall of Fame basketball coach Lute Olson, who made Arizona a national power and guided the Wildcats to the school’s only NCAA championship, has died at the age of 85.

Olson was hospitalized after a stroke last year, and was recently transferred to Dharamshala’s care.

His death was confirmed by the family from Arizona media outlets.

Olson 589-187 in 24 seasons in Arizona and guided the Wildcats to four Final Four appearances, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament and 11 Pac-10 titles, as well as the 1997 National Title.

He was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, and in 2018 a statue of Olson was erected outside the McClay Memorial Center.

Olson finished his coaching career with a record of 776–285 in 34 seasons at Arizona, Iowa and Long Beach State.

Arizona won just four games in 1982–83, the season before Olson moved to Tucson, and reached the NCAA tournament twice after 1951.

But the Wildcats changed things quickly under Olson, reaching the NCAA tournament in his second season at school and advancing to the school’s first Final Four in 1987–88, when they finished 35–3.

Arizona reached the finals again in 1994 before winning its first and only NCAA title in 1997, when freshman Mike Bibby and junior Miles Simon led the Olsens and Wildcats and heavily beat Kentucky in the championship game.

The Wildcats also advanced to the national championship game under Olson in 2001, when they lost to Duke.

Olson began his coaching career at Long Beach State in 1973–74, where he went on to lead the next season at Iowa, going 24–2. He coached the Hawkeyes to the NCAA Tournament five times in nine seasons.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.