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Lute Olson

Lute Olson  

Robert Luther "Lute" Olson coached Iowa for nine seasons, from 1974 to 1983, with an overall record of 167-91 (.647), leaving as the schools all-time wins leader.

Olson inherited an Iowa team that had gone 8-16 under Dick Schultz, finishing 10th in the Big Ten and suffered four consecutive losing seasons. Olson turned the Iowa Basketball program around, going 19-10 in just his second season. Iowa then won the Big 10 Conference Title in 1978-1979, earning the first of five consecutive NCAA Tournament births.

In 1979-1980, Olson led the Hawkeyes to a Final Four appearance in the 1980 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The team made the now 48-team NCAA tournament with a 18-8 record (10-8, 4th in the Big 10), despite playing a good portion of the season without injured (knee) All-American guard Ronnie Lester. Lester returned for end of the regular season and the tournament. In the NCAA, Iowa received a #5 seed in the East Regional. They beat Virginia Commonwealth (86-72), North Carolina State (77-64) and #1 seed Syracuse (88-77). In the East Regional Final, Iowa was down by as many in 14 in the second half, before rallying to defeat Georgetown (81-80) on a last second basket and free-throw by Steve Waite to advance to the Final Four.

In the NCAA Semi-Final, Lester injured his knee early in the game, after scoring 10 of Iowa's first 12 points. He did not return and Iowa fell to eventual NCAA champion Louisville 80-72. Overall, Iowa was 15-1 with Lester fully in the lineup and 8-9 in his absence.

After leading the Hawkeyes to the Final Four, Olson's Iowa teams made the next three NCAA Tournaments, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in 1983, his final season at Iowa. Nicknamed "The House That Lute Built", Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a facility Olson had envisioned for the future of the University, opened on January 5, 1983 against Michigan State. Iowa had played in the antiquated Iowa Fieldhouse. After the season, Olson left Iowa for the University of Arizona. He won an NCAA National Championship with the Wildcats in 1997.

Born 9/22/1934 and died on 8/27/2020 at the age of 85.






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FAMOUS QUOTES from Lute Olson

    I asked the players at halftime, 'Are we a good basketball team or not?' I said, 'Indiana should be challenged to play us. We shouldn't be tense.'
    ...from Iowa vs. Indiana on 1/22/1981 - Link to source

    When officials can come out and steal basketball games from young people as that crew did, they deserve to be in jail - not out working games. There's no question. The game was stolen from us...I will personally carry the tape in (to the Big Ten office), and that crew (the officials: Bain, Dan Edwards and Ralph Rosser) had better be with me. We can go through it play by play.
    ...from Iowa vs. Purdue on 3/6/1982 - Discussing the phantom call on Kevin Boyle with no time left on the clock, giving Purdue two shots that led to their victory. - Link to source

    I make it clear to my players that when they come into the locker room after a game, they look in the mirror and think whether or not they gave out everything they could have. If they feel they gave out all their effort, then they can sit down. There are some guys right now that can't do that. We got great efforts from some and only 50 or 60 percent from others.
    ...from Iowa vs. Ohio State on 3/7/1981 - Link to source

    Andre Banks Andre did a tremendous job of a lot of different things, but the biggest thing was he let the game come to him instead of forcing the issue. I don't want to say too much about Andre's play, because he has a tendency to get a big head. The poor guys in the dorm will have to put up with about six hours of him telling them about it (Saturday night).
    About Andre Banks ...from Iowa vs. Indiana on 1/29/1983 - Quoted in Daily Iowan about Andre Banks after the game - Link to source

    Greg Stokes [Greg Stokes performance was] the finest game he has played at the University of Iowa at both ends of the court
    About Greg Stokes ...from Iowa vs. Indiana on 1/29/1983 - Link to source

    Dan Frost Without Dan in the line-up we are definitely missing our leader. We're a much better team with him. When he's out it puts added pressure on our other people
    About Dan Frost 3/6/1975... - Quoted in a Daily Iowan article about Dan Frost returning from injury in 1975. - Link to source

    Bruce 'Sky' King Bruce (King) played the best game as an individual of any player that I have coached In 20 years, and I've had some guys that have had great performances. But I feel that at both ends of the court it was the best I've ever had a player play for one of my teams.
    About Bruce 'Sky' King ...from Iowa vs. Drake on 12/4/1976 - When asked about the performance of Bruce King in a win over Drake on the road. - Link to source

    Ronnie Lester We're 20 points better with him in there. If we can hang in there three or four weeks, we'll be all right.
    About Ronnie Lester ...from Iowa vs. Illinois on 1/3/1980 - Discussing the absence of Ronnie Lester in the game

    Ronnie Lester Nadine, I applied for a fifth year of eligibility for your son, but the Big Ten coaches voted, and it was nine to one against. So I guess we're going to have to do this thing [retire his jersey].
    About Ronnie Lester ...from Iowa vs. Illinois on 3/1/1980 - Said to Ronnie Lester's mother (Nadine) during his jersey retirement ceremony before the Illinois game.

FAMOUS QUOTES about Lute Olson

Dan Frost Coach Olson didn't want me out of high school. I could see his point, though. I grew late and never was really that good. But I was impressed with Coach Olson and his philosophies. He was open and honest. I guess what impressed me most was that he had faith in me. I learned all the basics there (Long Beach City College). I learned the most basketball ever from Coach Olson. I think my biggest asset was that while I was growing I didn't lose my quickness. - Link to source
Dan Frost on 3/6/1975... - Quoted in a Daily Iowan article about returning from injury in 1975 and his time with Lute Olson at both Long Beach City College and Iowa.

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Lute Olson - Iowa Hawkeyes Head Coach Profile | Basketball - Summary of Iowa football and basketball games