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Pennell ‘enjoyed’ year, wants to coach again

Citizen Staff Writer



INDIANAPOLIS – Russ Pennell wants to be a head coach again.

His wild ride of a season in the spotlight as the interim head coach of Arizona is over. He’ll be in the UA history books with a 21-14 record and a Sweet 16 appearance next to his name.

“I really enjoyed this year,” Pennell said after a 103-64 loss to Louisville on Friday night.

“I will make a bold statement right now. I will be coaching somewhere next year.”

He paused.

“It might be my daughter’s eighth-grade team.”

He joked, but he did say “absolutely” when asked if he wanted to be a college head coach next season.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a big undertaking, a big task, but I would welcome that,” he said.

Pennell, who added that staying on as a UA assistant wasn’t on his “list of things to do,” will soon clear out his office so the incoming coaching staff will be able to move right in once hired.

Until then, he will stay around McKale Center. He said he still will be holding players accountable for going to class and doing the other things they need to be doing.

“Like all of our coaches told these guys, we’ll be by their sides the rest of their life,” Pennell said. “We certainly won’t interfere with what goes on next, but they know they can pick up a phone and talk to us at any time.”

Pennell, who doesn’t have an agent – “my wife,” he joked – reiterated what he has said all along. He won’t take just any head coaching job. He’ll be picky. He also would consider a return to announcing.

“It has to be the right fit for myself and my family, where we’d like to live and where I’d like to work, somewhere we could put down roots,” he said of a coaching job.

Pennell and his wife, Julie, have two daughters – Morgan, 12, and Emily, 9.

First on his to-do list after the team returns to Tucson is go to Phoenix for Emily’s gymnastics meet Sunday.

Sometime later, he will reflect on guiding one of the nation’s top programs and leading the Wildcats to their 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

“I think if someone had said back in October we’d have 21 wins and a Sweet 16, we’d probably all said, ‘Sign us up for that,’ ” Pennell said.

“All I’m going to say is I’m going to feel really good about 2008-2009. Whether we stay in Tucson or no matter where we end up, I hope I can come back and be welcomed. That would be a nice thing.”

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