College Basketball Notebook: Olson suffered stroke
The college basketball notebook …
TUCSON, Ariz. ó Lute Olson’s doctor said Tuesday that the former Arizona basketball coach had a stroke within the last year and he advised him to retire.
The comments by Dr. Steven Knope at a news conference called by Olson’s family offer the first explanation for Olson’s sudden retirement last week, two days after he appeared at the Wildcats’ media day. Olson said at the time he was energized and looking forward to his 25th season with Arizona.
Knope said an MRI confirmed the stroke in the frontal part of Olson’s brain, which left the Hall of Famer with severe depression and impaired judgment.
“This is a rather cruel twist of fate,” Knope said at a McKale Center news conference attended by two of Olson’s daughters, Jodi Brase and Christi Snyder.
“He is quite literally devastated,” Knope said. “He was doing great over the summer and very much wanted to fulfill his obligation to the community and the university.”
Knope said Olson is resting at home and is on a blood thinner, and he’s optimistic Olson will recover.
The announcement ended almost a year of speculation about Olson’s health. Rumors began to circulate when he took a leave of absence last season for what he later termed a “medical condition that was not life-threatening.”
Over the last few weeks, Knope said he had talked to Olson about retiring because Olson was struggling to handle his workload as preseason practice opened.
“He just couldn’t put the pieces together,” Knope said. “He couldn’t do what he needed to do for the team.”
Knope said he ordered the MRI on Monday after Olson did not respond to recent treatment for depression.
“Unlike a typical stroke that you may imagine where someone is unable to walk or talk or move a limb, this stroke occurred in a part of the brain where much of his intellectual function and his motor function was perfectly normal,” Knope said. “So it wasn’t quite apparent. The tipoff and the clue came in the last several weeks, when we began to treat what appeared to be a bout of depression that simply didn’t respond.”
Knope said he had treated Olson for depression in the last year, during which Olson went through a contentious divorce from his second wife, Christine.
XAVIER FAVORED; CHARLOTTE 5TH
PHILADELPHIA ó Xavier was picked by the Atlantic 10 coaches and media to win the league championship and return to the NCAA Tournament.
Temple, which won the league’s postseason tournament in March, was picked second. Dayton, Saint Joseph’s and Charlotte round out the top five.
The preseason all-conference team includes five players from five different schools: forward Derrick Brown, of Xavier; Dionte Christmas, Temple’s leading scorer last season; Saint Louis’ leading scorer, Kevin Lisch; the conference leader in assists last season, Chris Lowe, of Massachusetts; and Saint Joseph’s big man Ahmad Nivins.
HAMDEN, Conn. ó Hamden police say they are investigating several complaints of racism at Quinnipiac University, including slurs and harassing phone calls directed at black players on the school’s basketball team.
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