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On UA’s basketball coaching search


• I thought it might be Rick Pitino until today. It’s not and here’s why: Russ Pennell is a straight shooter and a great guy and a super coach. In his exit press conference today he mentioned that the Louisville players were arrogant and that he wasn’t surprised they lost to Michigan State. There is no way that he’d bash players whose coach would be coming to Arizona, because some of them might come with him. And that is not his style. . . . UA athletic director Jim Livengood wants Final Four coaching talent and a young coach. A once-in-a-quarter-century type of hire. There are three who fit that bill the best: Jamie Dixon, Jay Wright and Mark Few. GUERT

• If UA is able to snag a Pitino level coach, you just might get Chase Budinger back for another year and . . . top-notch recruits right off the bat. . . . This is not the time to go cheap. It’s an arms race, and my hunch is three years from now $3 million to $4 million a year will look like a bargain. Bite the bullet, Baby. SOUNDSTAGE 28

• We’re not going to get a top tier coach because the only two coaches out there with any guts to leave are John Calapari and Rick Pitino. “Cal” is gone to Kentucky, and I think Pitino will relish the challenge of going against “Cal” now that the two will be competing in the same state. 4274

• I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Pitino would be a terrible long-term choice. We will be in the same boat five years from now because he won’t stay. LV444

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