Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller released this statement about the death of his predecessor Lute Olson on Thursday night.
Since I arrived in Tucson almost 12 years ago, I have been asked hundreds of times, ‘What made Coach Olson so successful?’
Having asked his former players, coaches and people in our community the same question, I came to a final conclusion: He had no weaknesses as a coach.
He was a tremendous teacher of the game—he loved the practice environment.
He was a relentless recruiter, often being the last coach to leave a high school gym on a hot summer night in Las Vegas.
He was an astute evaluator of talent. So many of his most accomplished players were not heavily recruited prospects—Steve Kerr, Luke Walton and Gilbert Arenas come to mind.
He was a fierce and confident leader. He utilized his iconic presence to make everyone around him BELIEVE in themselves and the team they were a part of.
He was more than a coach to all of his players. The family atmosphere he created for each of them might be the most impressive accomplishment of his time. To this day, there is a connection and closeness between generations of Arizona players that will last forever.
He was a leader in our community and gave his time and resources for more than three decades. The love affair that he created between Tucson and our basketball program has resulted in the unmatched fanbase and the home court atmosphere that we feel inside the McKale Center today.
Finally, he was always helpful and supportive of me. I will miss seeing him at our home games and hearing our crowd yell, ‘Lute!’ I will miss visiting with him when he would attend our practices. I will miss his support of everything Arizona basketball.
My family joins all of the current members of the Arizona Basketball program in sending our condolences and prayers to his wife, Kelly, and the entire Olson Family. I am forever grateful to be a part of the basketball program and community that he impacted so immensely.
Coach O will certainly be missed, but always remembered by us. Bear Down.