Thursday, May 03, 2007

Longtime Wildcats Assistant Scapegoated in Tucson?

For weeks, I have followed and reported the coaching carousel in college basketball. Usually, changes occur immediately after the season and the ones that occur a month afterwards often make me curious enough to take a closer look.

With that said, longtime Arizona Wildcats assistant head coach Jim Rosborough was relieved of his basketball duties earlier this week after 18 seasons as a deputy to Arizona head coach Lute Olson.

Having been a North Carolina fan for so many years, I know a scapegoat situation (see Matt Doherty) when I see one. However, I lacked the perspective and background knowledge to make an educated addition to the marketplace of ideas, so I asked a friend who happens to be a die-hard Arizona Wildcats fan. Here is what he said regarding my hunch that Rosborough was a scapegoat in the ordeal:

I agree that Roz (Rosborough) was a scapegoat. After a major Elite 8 collapse against Illinois and two straight mediocre seasons, Olson had to do something. Whether he was pressured by the alumni or he took it upon himself to make changes, it was clear there would be a real shake-up. He said after the loss to Purdue that they will re-look everything.

Roz was a really nice guy. He was a mentor to the recent wing players (Walton ,Jefferson) and a friend to all. The saddest thing about all this is that he stuck with Lute for 20+ seasons. He was a part of the family. Problem is Lute realized that this family has gotten too cozy and comfortable and this is really a business. I am a die-hard AZ fan and I will be the first to say that Roz is not the right guy to be the head coach at AZ. Besides being nice and a great friend/mentor, he doesn't bring much else. Recruiting?? Zip. He is the guy in charge of preparing the team for the best Pac-10 foes and the elite non-conference games. AZ was 1-8 against the top 4 in the league [this season], and they also suffered their worst home loss in the Lute Olson era to UNC.

Olson wanted to bring O'Neill in, but who do you get rid of? [Miles] Simon? He is a minority assistant coach that can relate to the players in that he was the MVP of the championship team. He also has strong recruiting ties to SoCal. [Josh] Pastner? He is arguably the hardest working assistant coach in the country and a real up-and-comer. He has invaluable recruiting ties in the Houston area and has landed some pretty good international players (see Negedu in '08 class). His father also coaches a Houston AAU team and runs Houston's Kingwood Classic. Roz was left. Olson offered him an admin job with the same pay, but he, as would I, declined. I thought he would be in Tucson and I am sad to see him leave.

As much as they deny it, O'Neill is grooming to be Lute's successor. If he succeeds in returning AZ to national contender status he gets the job. If not, we will likely bring someone like Mike Montgomery in. Looking into the distant future, we also have Steve Kerr and Josh Pastner, but they need experience. If he brings defense and mental toughness to this program, which is why we hired him, then the future looks bright.

Lute Olson had to shake things up. No one person is to blame and sadly Roz was the one to bear the brunt.

Articles Worth Reading
* Like the mad genius that he is, Gregg Doyel wrote this piece about young ballers and the poor decisions they're making. Of course, it features the derogatory tone his readers have come to know and love.
* Whoa! ESPN has a good article and you don't need Insider. And it's a good one by Andy Katz about the short individual team-workout window.
* A provocative article by Mike DeCourcy at the Sporting News (also home to Strat-o-Matic) about the "Gonzaga Syndrome".
* Last but not least, the NCAA has approved a longer 3-point line. The one-foot move from 19'9" to 20'9" may not be enough, but it is definitely long overdue.

1 comment:

Navid said...

Well, as a U of A student and an avid reader of the daily campus paper "the Daily Wildcat", i'll tell you that they made it pretty clear that the alumni had put a lot of pressure on the athletics director and Lute to take someone out. Also, it was anounced officially yesterday that Kevin O'Neill will be the new assistant head coach.