Arizona Wildcats: Lute Olson's Shadow Looms Large for Sean Miller

JJ AskvigContributor IApril 10, 2009

NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 16:  Head coach Lute Olson of the Arizona Wildcats walks the sidelines during the first half against the Purdue Boilermakers in round one of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 16, 2007 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

On Oct. 24, 2008, college basketball and Arizona Wildcats fans were shocked. The University of Arizona announced that Lute Olson was retiring!

Just a few days before, a spry and seemingly energetic Olson was seen at practice preparing his team for what arguably would have been his last season on the bench in Tucson.

We have since seen how the season played out, and with the last-second change of heart by Sean Miller, Arizona Wildcats basketball can close the book with a bumpy conclusion to this storied chapter of its history. 

In the wake of this chapter is Lute's long script of success.  Consider: one national championship, four Final Fours, 23 straight NCAA tournament appearances (25 in a row for the program, but Lute was not at the helm for the last two), four Pac-10 tournament championships, 11 Pac-10 regular season championships, 2002 Hall of Fame inductee, two-time National Coach of the Year, eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, 25 wins per season average while at Arizona, and groomed countless NBA players at "Point Guard U."

So when Lute recently announced that Miller did not need to worry about his legacy, sorry Coach O, but I beg to differ.  It's a testament to the numbers listed above that Arizona fans expect the next guy to do even better!

Miller is no slouch. In fact, Miller's current résumé is very similar to Lute's when he arrived in Arizona. 

Coach Miller has experience taking teams deep into the tournament with runs to the Elite Eight; Lute had taken Iowa to the Final Four. 

Miller has been a success at every stop before Arizona; Lute had many successful seasons at Long Beach State and Iowa.

Finally, Miller has a swagger and confidence about him. Anyone who watched Coach O knows that he had a fire for competition that fed his coaching pursuit of championships.

Sean Miller will keep the Wildcats competitive, but Wildcats fans are hungry and want a quick return to the glory days of Arizona Wildcat basketball, which means competing for a national title every year.

Good luck, coach Miller, and I wish you the best.  Arizona fans are counting on you!

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