Hall of Fame basketball coach Lute Olson, who constructed Arizona right into a nationwide energy and guided the Wildcats to the varsity’s solely NCAA championship, has died at age 85.

Olson was hospitalized final yr after struggling a stroke, and was just lately moved into hospice care.

His loss of life was confirmed by household to Arizona media retailers.

Olson went 589-187 in 24 seasons at Arizona and guided the Wildcats to 4 Final Four appearances, 23 consecutive NCAA tournaments and 11 Pac-10 titles, in addition to the nationwide title in 1997.

He was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, and a statue of Olson was erected outdoors the McKale Memorial Center in 2018. The court docket inside McKale was named in his honor in 2000, then turned “Lute and Bobbi Olson Court” a yr later to honor his late spouse.

Many former Wildcats gamers took to social media Friday evening to reward the beloved coach, who completed with a 776-285 report in 34 seasons at Arizona, Iowa and Long Beach State.

Arizona gained simply 4 video games in 1982-83, the season earlier than Olson arrived in Tucson, and had reached the NCAA match twice since 1951.

But the Wildcats turned issues round rapidly below Olson, reaching the NCAA match in his second season at the varsity and advancing to the varsity’s first Final Four in 1987-88, once they completed 35-3.

Arizona reached the Final Four once more in 1994 earlier than successful its first and solely NCAA title in 1997, when freshman Mike Bibby and junior Miles Simon led Olson and the Wildcats previous closely favored Kentucky within the championship sport. That group stays the one one since seeding started in 1979 to defeat three No. 1 seeds en path to successful the title.

The Wildcats additionally superior to the nationwide championship sport below Olson in 2001, once they had been defeated by Duke.

Overall, Olson gained seven NCAA match video games in opposition to No. 1 seeds (7-5 report). The solely coach to win extra such video games since 1979 is Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who’s 8-7 in these video games.

“Lute Olson was so much more than a basketball coach,” University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins mentioned. “He was an educator, a motivator, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend to so many. He was a true leader in every sense of the word and displayed such integrity and compassion in every endeavor. While Coach will no longer be with us, his presence will be felt for generations to come.”

Current Arizona coach Sean Miller mentioned he discovered quite a bit about Olson in talking together with his former gamers and other people within the Tucson group.

“He had no weaknesses as a coach,” Miller mentioned. “He was a tremendous teacher of the game. He was a relentless recruiter. He was an astute evaluator of talent. He was a fierce and confident leader. He was more than a coach to all of his players. To this day, there is a connection and closeness between generations of Arizona players that will last forever.”

Born on a farm outdoors Mayville, North Dakota, on Sept. 22, 1934, Olson led his highschool group to the 1952 state championship and was a three-sport athlete at Augsburg College in Minnesota from 1953 to 1956.

He began his profession as a highschool coach in Minnesota and Southern California earlier than turning into the pinnacle coach at Long Beach City College, the place he gained the state junior faculty title in 1971.

In 1973-74, he took over at Long Beach State, the place he went 24-2, earlier than being employed at Iowa the next season. He coached the Hawkeyes to the NCAA match 5 instances in 9 seasons.

Information from The Associated Press was used on this report.

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