Lute Olson on his 1,000th win

Lute Olson wouldn't want a big deal made out of it, but there is no denying that winning 1,000 games on any level is impressive. With the win over Utah, Olson has now won 1,000 games at the high school, junior college and D-I levels. He discussed the feat after the game.

Can you tell me about the first victory?

"Well it was in a big town in Minnesota, 1,800 people in a gym that seated probably 500-600 people. They line up an hour or so ahead just to try to get into the games. I don't remember who the first team was though who we beat. The town was Mahnomen. They had been in the Lake Aggase Conference and had not won a league title in 32 years. We won the league title and I got out of there."

When you started coaching did you have 1,000 wins as a goal?

"My goal is to stay employed. That year it was a huge contract. It was $3,200. I had to be there two weeks early for the start of football practice. I was the assistant coach on the varsity, and I coached JV's by myself. The first football game I remember I was going to go home to rest, eat a little early, and come back and tape ankles like you have to do at that level. The head coach who was also my assistant in basketball and the A.D. said ‘Don't forget about your other responsibility.' I said, ‘What's that?' and he said, ‘You should have read your contract more closely. You're in charge of liming the football field.' Scouts honor. So there I am out there (imitating liming the field).

"I coached basketball. Taught six classes with four preparations and was a baseball coach, and that was one of the big shocks. After the basketball season was over I talked to my assistant basketball coach, football coach, A.D., and track and field coach, and I said, ‘Where's the baseball diamond?' and he said, ‘We don't have one, all your games are on the road.' I said, ‘Where do we practice?' and he said, ‘Throw some bases down on the football field.'

"We had a great pitcher. Usually you have a pitcher and if you get a pop-up you say everybody else is going to handle it. Anything he could get to, he got to. We spent so much time trying to get through infield practice before games. I mean I was hitting grounders that were like this (imitating ball bouncing up and down). If they got it they'd throw it away (chuckles), but they were a very good team because of Al, was they guy's name, and he got a full ride scholarship. Al still comes down, he'll come down for games he stays in phoenix in the off season. He was also my star on the basketball team."


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