Monday, December 03, 2007
Where is Lute?
I can't count the amount of times people have asked me over the past month, where is Lute? And when is he coming back. After the initial period of allowing Lute to have his privacy, speculation has increased with each passing day without an explanation.
Greg Hansen of the AZ Daily Star suggests Lute Olson might not be coming back at all.
I've heard a lot of rumors, most of which I don't want to disclose because I think they are complete bullshit. Some may have merit, and whenever Lute resolves this issue, I hope he doesn't continue to keep everyone in the dark.
At this point, I'm not so sure even the players know exactly what's going on, and my sources have their opinions but have not heard directly from Lute.
In the meantime, Jay Bilas made some good points last week that many other media outlets failed to point out. Here's what he wrote:
"Arizona coach Lute Olson took a leave of absence Nov. 4, more than three weeks ago, and we certainly all wish Olson the very best. While it went unnoticed to some, Olson's announcement was not prepared by the school, but by a private firm, which was quite unusual. As of Sunday's battle with Kansas, nobody at Arizona had any real idea when Olson might be back to coach the team. About a week ago, interim coach Kevin O'Neill said Olson told him he'd be back soon. But there is no timetable for Olson's return."
"While other coaches have taken leaves of absence before, Olson's situation is a strange one, and I wonder whether Olson needs some time to assess whether he still wants to coach. In other situations in which a coach took a leave of absence, there was certainty. We knew the reasons behind the leave, and when or if the coach would return. In Olson's situation, he has not yet spoken to the team and has not let his coaches or administrators know what is going on. Programs need certainty, and right now there is uncertainty surrounding the Arizona program."
"As this situation drags on, expect more and more questions to arise regarding the reasons behind Olson's leave. And the longer this goes, the harder it will be on the players and coaches. There is nothing wrong with Olson taking leave, but it will soon be necessary to determine whether he will come back this season or not. It would not serve the Wildcats program well to have this kind of uncertainty going into December. Fortunately, this is not O'Neill's first rodeo, and he has the experience to handle uncharted territory."
The most interesting thing about Bilas' opinion is the fact that Lute wouldn't let the program handle the public relations work. Obviously, he doesn't trust that the team and those close to it to keep the issue to themselves and he thinks this issue is so private that he can't even let the players he coaches know when he's coming back.
Without Lute, Arizona made a 20 point comeback against No. 9 Texas A&M on the backs of Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger. Apparently, Kevin O'Neill was listening when I wrote that Bayless needs to play the two guard. Nic Wise played 26 solid minutes against the Aggies and allowed Bayless to come off screens and shoot his way to a career high 26 points. When he wasn't shooting, Bayless was feeding the ball inside to Jordan Hill off curls that gave Bayless the option to shoot or pass. I fathom to say that Lute might not have made that offensive adjustment at halftime.
While Arizona had a nice afternoon, the Lakers continue to be inconsistent, blowing a lead in a 104-97 loss to the Orlando Magic.
As always an updated +/- (through 17 games)
And then also: If you love high school girls' soccer, then my Daily News article is for you