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They were not selected All-Pac-10 players and they did not have prolonged careers in the NBA, but Lute Olson must be as proud of Matt Othick and Josh Pastner as any of his players for what they have accomplished in life.
Othick, 44, has experience as an independent film producer, land broker/investor in Las Vegas and Del Mar, Calif., and owner of Crust Pizzeria in Carlsbad, Calif.
Pastner, 36, is in his fifth year as a head coach at Memphis after serving as an assistant at Arizona for six years. He has a 106-34 record with the Tigers.
He has maintained ties with his Arizona roots at Memphis, hiring three assistants who attended Arizona. Jack Murphy, a former UA director of basketball operations, is now head coach at NAU. Damon Stoudamire coached two years with Pastner at Memphis before UA coach Sean Miller hired him at Arizona this season. Jason Gardner is now an assistant under Pastner at Memphis.
An image that remains in my mind when I reported for The Arizona Daily Star and covered Arizona’s basketball team from 1996-98, when Pastner was on the team: Walking into McKale Center at almost 10 p.m. and watching Pastner work individually with fellow freshman guard Mike Bibby. Nobody else was in the arena.
That exhibited the work ethic of both to become better at their respective crafts.
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Othick was more of a player than Pastner, who walked on at Arizona to learn the coaching craft under Olson and his assistant coaches. Othick, an Pac-10 All-Freshman selection, was a three-year starter who won three conference titles. He is one of only four UA point guards to achieve more than 1,000 points and 500 assists in a career.
The others are Mustafa Shakur, Stoudamire and Gardner.
Othick was 60-1 in his career at McKale Center.
He was recruited by Olson out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, drawing the ire of former UNLV coaching legend Jerry Tarkanian. Othick originally committed to UNLV. Tarkanian commented as recently as 2010 that if Othick stayed at home the Running Rebels would have defeated Duke for the 1991 NCAA title.
Othick addressed that subject and many more in a recent Bear Down Podcast interview with Brad Malone.
“It looked like I was going to end up at UNLV, but I really felt that Arizona was the right place for me,” Othick told Malone. “I found out during the summer (before his senior year) they had promised Greg (Anthony) the point guard position, so that made my decision pretty easy at that point.
“My (uptempo) game probably fit better to UNLV. I had to adapt my game towards Arizona. Those things (playing at UNLV instead) always cross your mind, but I would never trade my career at Arizona for anything. Obviously, it would have been nice to win a national title. We had the talent and teams and the coaching staff to do it. But I’m happy with my years at Arizona. I met a lot of great people who are still friends of mine today both on and off the basketball court.”
FORMER ARIZONA ASSISTANTS WHO BECAME DIVISION I HEAD COACHES
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Bold — Active
y-Burmeister is coaching at the University of the Incarnate Word, a Division II program in San Antonio that will be competing at the Division I level starting in 2014-15 in the Southland Conference. He is 127-79 with UIW after seven seasons.
z-Pastner left Arizona to become an assistant coach at Memphis before he was hired as the Tigers’ head coach.
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