Pennell deserves credit in Olson's absence

When Lute Olson retired, nobody expected it to be easy. In his absence, Russ Pennell has done an admirable job.

One year ago, Russ Pennell was coaching an AAU team. One year later and he has likely positioned himself for a head coaching or top assistant job some where else.

"People have been very good and kind to me," Pennell said. "I think they felt sorry for me at the beginning because if the difficult position I was put in. I never looked at this as a bad thing."

While he has done well, he will not be retained and likely should not be. Arizona needs some new blood and a coach that knows what it is like to rebuild a program and achieve excellence.

After Saturday's game, it seems that Pennell knows exactly what is coming for him.

"I know this will probably be the last time I coach in McKale," he said. "I just keep looking forward to the next game.

"When it's all over, I'll probably reflect, but I won't want to because that means it's all over. The journey has been good. It's not about me riding off into the sunset."

One fact that is undeniable about this team is that it has been able to create a following that loves it.

"My goal from the very beginning was to create an environment that the players loved to play in and the fans loved to watch," Pennell said. "I am very thankful."

Arizona fans should feel the same way.

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