2001 NCAA Men's Tourney
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No storybook finish

Olson's trying year ends with difficult title game loss

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Posted: Tuesday April 03, 2001 12:54 AM
Updated: Tuesday April 03, 2001 5:20 AM

  Lute Olson Lute Olson's Wildcats say the coach has been an inspirational role model in an adversity-filled season. AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- They had been through so much together that in the aftermath of their NCAA championship loss to Duke Monday night, the Arizona Wildcats seemed drained.

The death of coach Lute Olson's wife, Bobbi, on Jan. 1 had hung like a cloud over the Wildcats for three months. Now, with the season over, Olson reflected on his loss and the players spoke about what they learned by how he handled it.

"All of us have things happen to us that we have to be willing accept," Olson said. "I don't know how many people that I've heard from that have lost life partners. And they said ... those memories are going to be there all your life, and the pain will start diminishing eventually, not totally, but ...

"So it's a fact of life. So it's there. And like I've said, thank goodness for family and great friends."

Center Loren Woods said he admired his coach's strength in the face of personal tragedy.

"Coach Olson has taught us so much since we've been in the program and we all have learned as much as we could learn from him," he said. "He's taught us courage, patience, dignity for the program and dignity for yourselves and your families.

"That's not about coach Olson. It's just about growing up. All of us seniors came to college as boys and we're leaving as men."

Richard Jefferson said he had learned from Olson how important family is in time of crisis.

"He went through some very tough times this year, and his family was really there for him. You see his family and how close-knit they are," Jefferson said. "That's how you want to raise your family.

"That's something when you see, you're a 19-, 20-year-old boy going into the world, you need an example like that. This is how your family needs to be. This is how you raise your kids.

"This year I learned so much about life and so much about how I need to be for the rest of my life."


 
Related information
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Duke pulls away from Arizona late for third title
Woods plays biggest game in toughest loss
Dunleavy's 18 second-half points lift Duke
Notebook: Blue Devils count to title by 3s
Multimedia
Arizona's Loren Woods explains what he's learned from his head coach. (419 K)
Arizona's Richard Jefferson says Lute Olson has showed him the importance of family and given him life lessons. (245 K)
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