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Miller, Olson appear at University of Arizona event
To an outsider, it might seem strange why University of Arizona fans were booing their beloved hall of fame basketball coach at Lutes Casino Thursday night.
They weren't booing. They were saying “Lute.”
The Wildcat fans knew exactly what they were doing, emphasizing the “u” as they cheered former Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson at the 2013 Arizona Road Tour.
“This is a great place,” Olson said to the crowd. “This is a great Wildcat town, there's no doubt about that.”
The crowd was ecstatic that “Midnight Lute” was at the restaurant that bears resemblance to his name, but apparently it isn't too hard to book him.
“If it involves lunch, dinner or golf, I'm available,” Olson said.
It was the fourth consecutive year the tour made a stop in Yuma, and the first time it participated in a community outreach event at the Yuma Community Food Bank.
“Tucson is the foundation of what we do but we're not the University of Tucson, we're the University of Arizona,” Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said. “We're going to recruit here, we're going to ask for season ticket holders, donors, and we're going to ask for the students to come on over and come to U of A as a general student. This just gives us a chance to be here, be in the community and show how interested we are in this area of the state and hopefully that will be reciprocated back to the U of A.”
Before the event at Lutes Casino, Byrne, men's basketball coach Sean Miller and women's basketball coach Niya Butts helped fill backpacks with food for the food bank.
“I was really inspired by the service these guys did,” food bank president Mike Ivers said. “They didn't have to do this. They didn't have to come an hour early and spend that time. They helped pack the backpacks that go out to the kids in need in rural areas, it was wonderful. The food bank was Wildcat nation today.”
For Miller, giving back to communities that help fill his arena on game night is something he relishes.
“It was amazing really,” Miller said. “I didn't realize how many young people, especially in this community and county, who don't have food at times.
“Any way we can touch the communities that support us, we want to do. Today, going to the food bank, that's what that represented. How much we support Yuma and the people here and how important a city like this is to what we do.”