March 16, 2007
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Lute Olson, Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski are already in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
What else do they have in common? They're all out of the NCAA tournament.
Olson's Arizona Wildcats ended an underachieving season with a 72-63 loss to Purdue on Friday night, joining Krzyzewski and Knight as first-round losers.
This becomes the first tournament since 1995 to start the second round without any of these NCAA coaching greats.
"I think all three of us will hope that never happens again," Olson said. "We'll be back."
The Boilermakers (22-11) are certainly back, turned around quickly by second-year coach Matt Painter.
They won only seven games last season and nine the year before, but earned a ninth seed in the Midwest Regional with a solid season and a strong finish. Now they're headed to the second round - where they'll face defending champion Florida - for the first time since 2003. Florida beat Jackson State 112-69.
"We've had some tough times," Painter said. "To be able to get a first-round win against a national program like Arizona, it's huge.
"A lot of factors go into how significant this win is. It helps our guys feel good about themselves and it helps us in recruiting. It's just a huge program win."
Carl Landry led the way, as usual, with 21 points and 13 rebounds. He always seemed to be in the right place against a bigger Arizona front line. He made 6-of-10 shots, including a 3-pointer when the defense left him open behind the arc, and was 8-of-8 from the foul line.
"In the second half, he was a man out there," Painter said. "He got those key rebounds. There's no doubt that he was the best player tonight."
He had a lot of help, too.
Chris Kramer added 16 points, including a basket from his knees. Chris Lutz hit his first four 3-pointers and scored 16 and David Teague - who, like Landry, missed most of last season because of knee surgery - added 15.
"When me and Lutz step up like we did tonight, it takes a lot of pressure off Landry and Teague," Kramer said. "When you get all four of us going, Purdue can be deadly."
The Boilermakers were in control nearly the entire game. They trailed only once and it was by a single point.
Chase Budinger led Arizona (20-11) with 15 points, while Ivan Radenovic and Jawann McClellan each scored 12.
Mustafa Shakur scored nine, far better than the two he had in a wipeout loss to Oregon in the Pac-10 tournament. But he wasn't able to lead the Wildcats like he did in last year's tournament, matching his eight assists with eight turnovers.
Arizona had 17 turnovers, while snagging only eight. The Wildcats had seven fewer rebounds than the Boilermakers and took 12 fewer shots, leaving a befuddled Olson staring at his stat sheet and distractedly answering questions at his postgame news conference.
"I'm disappointed, just like they are," Olson said. "It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that if you give them 19 more possessions then you're not going to get it done."
Olson was in the tournament for the 23rd straight time at Arizona. A decade ago, he had another team loaded with talented players who failed to click in the regular season, but got it together in mid-March and wound up as national champions.
He was holding out hope that 2007 would be a repeat of 1997. Instead, they continued a nosedive that began when they were 12-1 and ranked No. 7; they went 8-10 the rest of the way.
"We have to be more mentally tough," Shakur said. "You can have the most talent and the greatest group of individuals, but if you don't have that toughness and desire every night it's not going to amount to the things that need to happen."
The Boilermakers used a bunch of early 3-pointers to grab control and capped the first half with one more. An 8-0 start to the second half put them up by 11, and they went up 51-43 with 7:38 left on Kramer's spectacular play.
He lost his footing after trying to shake his defender with a crossover dribble, then looked up and realized two important things: the shot clock was running out and he had a clear look at the basket. From about 10 feet, he put a nice arc on the shot and it landed softly on the rim, then bounced right through.
Kramer said he'd never tried such a shot. His main objective was getting the ball to the rim and hoping a teammate would get the rebound. He was as surprised as anyone that it went in.
The Wildcats got within 55-52 on a 3-pointer by Shakur with 4:19 left. But Teague answered quickly for Purdue, letting Arizona know the Boilermakers weren't going away.
"Playing hard and making hustle plays is our identity," Teague said.
Olson, 72, was coaching his 73rd NCAA tournament game, third on the all-time list. Krzyzewski is ahead of him and Knight is right behind at 70. Those coaches are also among the top five on the tournament wins list.
Olson was trying for career win No. 47, which would've tied John Wooden for third place. The interesting part about Purdue denying that? Wooden himself is a Boilermaker, having played there from 1929-32.