The Arizona-North Carolina basketball series is a casualty of Lute Olson’s retirement.
The teams were set to meet next season in Chapel Hill as part of another home-and-home series, an arrangement based largely on the long friendship between Olson and UNC coach Roy Williams. The Wildcats and Tar Heels played each other in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.
When Olson retired last month, Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood talked to Williams, who agreed to call off the resumption of the series.
“It’s understood that it was a friendship game that was set up here,” said Ryan Hansen, a UA assistant athletic director for development who helps set the basketball schedule.
“Coach Williams understands the lay of the land. He has been gracious through and through. It has been a testament to what Roy is all about.”
In other scheduling, UA will tread lightly until it picks a new head coach in the spring.
“We’re not going to get into a home-and-home series, or a two-for-one deal or a neutral-court game without the new coach’s blessing,” Hansen said. “But we have a great base of games.”
In 2009-10, UA is scheduled to play in the Maui Invitational, at San Diego State, and on the road in the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series against an opponent to be announced.
Home nonconference matchups include the final game of a four-game series against UNLV and the start of a two-game set against North Carolina State.
While waiting for input from the new coach, UA could add a couple of “guarantee games” – one-time home matchups against a lesser opponent. For example, this season’s game against Weber State.
As a testament to Olson’s always-aggressive scheduling, the Wildcats already are under contract to play Kansas in the Las Vegas Invitational in the 2010-11 season.
But the new coach likely will inherit a very young roster next season and might want a different approach to the schedule.
“Schedule strength No. 1? Maybe we don’t need that. Schedule strength No. 20? Maybe that is something that is appropriate,” Hansen said.
“But I’m not the head coach who has his rear end on the line, so that is not for me to decide. It will be interesting in the transition to see the philosophy of the new coach.”
What: NIT Season Tip-off consolation games in Athens, Ga.
Monday: UA (1-1) vs. Mississippi Valley St. (0-4), 3:45 p.m.
Tuesday: UA vs. Santa Clara (1-2), 3:45 p.m.
TV: TBA, if any