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In Tucson, where a sizeable percentage of local billboards and television spots feature long-time University of Arizona men's basketball coach Lute Olson, the news that he was taking a leave of absence from the team this fall was huge. Yesterday's news that he was going to extend that leave for the whole 2007-2008 season was even bigger. And now, on the heels of that development, the announcement that he has filed for divorce from his second wife -- a fundraiser for the Republican Party, incidentally -- without making a statement to clarify what has been going on has taken the story to the level of a local soap opera. The Wildcats were already the most important entertainment in town before all this started. Now they and their possibly-ex coach are making front-page headlines for matters that touch upon basketball as much as Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid's family troubles touch on football.

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6 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 8th, 2007 04:42 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Deja who??

(Semi) Public figure leaving job at state college. Domestic troubles with a one-sidedly "open" marriage. The possibility that the latter had led to the former. Sounds familiar. Maybe we can take strength and leadership from the headlines and face our own difficult situation. Don't have to read between the lines too much on this little allegory.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 8th, 2007 07:45 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Deja who??

That first-person plural is a tricky S.O.B., isn't it?


Seriously, while I'm sympathetic with Lute, I also suspect that the problems are, to use the paralance of the Land's End catalogue, "reversible."
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: December 8th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Reiding ...

The Reid comparison is very smart, and pretty interesting to me. I think the public reaction says a lot about the culture, sports and otherwise, of the two cities. Tucson's too prone to hero worship, Philly too in love with toppling. Reid lobbied hard with the media to leave him alone about his kids, saying all the same things Lute is, about the issues being personal and family-related. And he was shown none of the same respect, despite the fact that he's done nearly as much for that franchise as Lute has for Arizona basketball. (Both of them have done a lot of good and a small but significant amount of bad. The main difference, of course, being that Lute got his ring.)

I might actually shoplift that comparison as the basis of a longer post on my blog ...
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: December 8th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Also ...

Oh, and I don't know if you watched the Illinois game, but ... I'm not sold on Kevin O'Neill as a viable major program basketball coach, because of his track record. But wasn't it nice to see Arizona running actual set plays in the half-court offense late in the second half of a close game? It's like O'Neill found the playbook Lute lost five years ago.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 8th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Also ...

Lute lost that playbook because of a Philadelphian, in part. Mustafa Shakur just couldn't be relied on to execute half-court offense when it mattered. A nice guy, everyone says. Strong on the break, though possessed of poor judgment. But not a point guard that someone with Lute's weaknesses could work with.
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: December 8th, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Also ...

True. And the contrast between Jason Gardner and Shakur (especially in that regard) only made the latter look that much worse. That said, what I've seen of Bayless and Wise doesn't convince me either one of them is any better at running an offense. Maybe Wise. He did look pretty good today.

I really think Lute's ineptitude late in games goes deeper than the faults of his field general, though. Yet another way in which Lute and Andy Reid are similar.
6 comments or Leave a comment