ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Lute Olson showed you can compete, show civility in ASU-UA rivalry

Aug 29, 2020, 6:48 AM

The news first broke of former Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball head coach Lute Olson less than 24 hours ago.

Since then, sports figures from across the state of Arizona and around the nation have provided stories and warm thoughts of the late Arizona coaching great.

But out of the many who have praised the coach for the way he handled himself throughout his career, the reaction from his biggest rival has been especially noted.

The Arizona State Sun Devils, their alumni and fans, took a timeout from the in-state rivalry with the Wildcats to pay tribute to a man who gave the school fits over his tenure at Arizona.

Of those who spoke on Olson’s character and resolve, former ASU head coach Bill Frieder put it perfectly for both sides of the state.

“Lute and I proved that you could compete hard on the court but be civil to each other after,” Frieder said in a statement. “I encourage everyone in the college basketball coaching world to cherish your friendships now. Keep them strong. Don’t let an intense game or a recruiting battle hurt them. Stay in touch. Get to know your coaching friends. I know that is what Lute and I did and I am thankful for it.”

Frieder and Olson were connected in more ways than just on the hardwood.

The duo spent time together on the set of many different Bank One commercials throughout the 90s, putting the rivalry front and center across Arizona in a fun and enjoyable way.

“The commercials were so much fun and were instrumental in bringing the schools together,” Frieder said. “The memories of dinners and having such great times with our wives will be there forever, in fact my daughter Laura has a great relationship with the Olson family.”

But Frieder wasn’t the one to join to reminisce about times shared with Olson, as others joined Arizona Sports to tell their stories of the coach on Friday.

Damon Stoudamire, former Wildcat player

“When he left Iowa I think that he probably had in his mind that if things went well at Arizona he’d probably end it all there. I mean what more could you ask for? You had a great campus, You had great weather. And once he started turning the tide eon recruiting, you knew you couldn’t beat him.”

Russ Pennell, Former Wildcats/Sun Devils assistant coach

“I think of the ultimate gentleman … I have a dual perspective. I competed against him for 6 or 7 years when I was at Arizona State as an assistant coach and he was always so kind in the offseason. You’d see him out recruiting where he would always speak and talk and he carried himself in the utmost honorable manner. You were his arch-rival yet he treated you with such respect. Then I got a chance to be around him a little bit and he was everything I thought he would be.”

Todd Walsh, D-backs broadcaster

“Commanded and demanded respect immediately. It was a presence and an air and you guys have been around him I’m sure and you’ve felt it. When he walked in the room he owned the room. If it was the living room trying to get a recruit, if it was practice, if it was the huddle in a timeout or those 15 minutes before they hit the court for warmups — there was a presence.”

Greg Hansen, Arizona Daily Star reporter

“He turned it around. He put them on equal footing. ASU had, Bill Frieder was a quality coach, and Lute just dominated the guy and his presence was such.”

Arizona Basketball

Arizona head coach Adia Barnes, middle, gestures between Sam Thomas, left, and Cate Reese during an...
Associated Press

Arizona women start No. 22 in AP rankings after NCAA title game run

In the Pac-12, No. 3 Stanford is joined by No. 10 Oregon, No. 14 Oregon State, No. 20 UCLA and No. 22 Arizona.
7 days ago
Bennedict Mathurin #0 of the Arizona Wildcats high fives Azuolas Tubelis #10 after a three-point sh...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Wildcats just outside AP preseason men’s basketball poll

The Arizona Wildcats garnered 26 points in the preseason men's basketball Associated Press poll for 2021-22.
7 days ago
Arizona's Bennedict Mathurin, left, speaks next to Azuolas Tubelis during Pac-12 Conference men's N...
Nicholas Hodell

CBS’s Norlander ranks Arizona basketball in top 30, ASU in top 100

CBS Sports senior writer Matt Norlander is higher than most on Arizona basketball, putting the Wildcats in 29th in his preseason rankings.
9 days ago
Arizona guard Dalen Terry (4) drives between Arizona State's Josh Christopher (13), Jalen Graham (2...
Arizona Sports

Arizona picked in top 5, ASU No. 7 in Pac-12 preseason hoops poll

In the Pac-12 preseason basketball poll, Arizona was picked tied for fourth while Arizona State was picked to finish No. 7.
13 days ago
Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd looks on during the college basketball game between the Gonzaga...
Kevin Zimmerman

Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd expects a competitive, balanced team

To move past an NCAA infractions case, the best and fastest way to move on is for the Wildcats to win on the court under their new coach.
27 days ago
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley talks to Marcus Bagley during the first half of the team's NCAA co...
Arizona Sports

Arizona State-Arizona featured in Pac-12 men’s hoops TV schedule

The Arizona State Sun Devils and Arizona Wildcats will be featured in the Pac-12's national TV slate for the 2021-22 men's basketball season.
27 days ago
Lute Olson showed you can compete, show civility in ASU-UA rivalry