With how the 2019-20 Arizona Basketball season has been going, many are putting the blame on Sean Miller, which poses an interesting question: How would things be different if Lute Olson were coach today?
Arizona Basketball head coach Sean Miller has had quite an interesting year. Some good moments and not so good moments. He has the talent but has been unable to get his team to play consistently well enough to have a better win-loss record, which has been his main criticism since he arrived in Tucson. This being said, How would hall of fame head coach Lute Olson handle this challenging year? We take a deep dive into this question.
If you look at the overall record and accomplishments of each coach, it’s easy to say that Olson is the better coach. Now, of course, Miller is just in his 11th year as head coach, whereas Olson was the coach for 24 years.
In the first 11 years, Olson did reach the final four twice and Miller has yet to accomplish that, losing in the Elite 8 three times. Both coaches had the talent to be successful and make deep postseason runs, but Olson is the one who found a way to get it done.
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One of the main contributory factors to coach O’s success was that he had players that stayed together for four years, where Miller hasn’t had that luxury. Whether it’s been grad/senior transfers, recruiting one and dones, he hasn’t been able to land top quality players that stay 3 or 4 years. That’s no fault of his own, that’s just the nature of college basketball right now.
The question is though could Olson be as successful today as he was from 1983-2007. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Just look at the other top coaches who have been around for a while, such as Coach K, John Calipari, Bill Self and Mark Few. They have been able to adapt to elite players only staying one or maybe two years, but still able to have successful seasons.
On the sidelines, Olson wasn’t as animated as Miller is, but his resume speaks for itself. He was able to recruit the right players that fit the system well, but also knew how to execute down the stretch, which is something Miller has been unable to do.
Olson mixed things up on both ends of the court and always found a way to motivate his team to do what it takes to win. With the talent Miller has had, he hasn’t found a way to motivate his team enough to get past the Elite 8 hurdle or even win games down the stretch.
Under Olson, there were countless games in which his teams had a huge lead and never really lost them in the fashion Miller’s teams have, especially this season. Yes, he may have not had the depth of experience players like Olson did, but still he hasn’t found a way to prevent this from happening.
How would though Olson handle the one and dones? His understanding of the game of basketball and what it takes to be a winner, he would recruit those he felt best that fit the system. Yes, there would be a lot of turnover in talent, but he would surround himself with the right coaching staff in place to help recruit elite players season after season.
So could Olson do better than Miller right now at Arizona? Our prediction is that possibly he could, but would take some time to adapt. I guess we will never know.
What if Lute Olson was coach today? A question I’m sure many have strong opinions about. Let us know your thoughts. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!