One thing is for sure. Now that the Arizona Wildcats have ended their run in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the hands of Louisville, Pittsburg native Russ Pennell may be looking for another job.
One thing is for sure.
Now that the Arizona Wildcats have ended their run in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the hands of Louisville, Pittsburg native Russ Pennell may be looking for another job.
“Unfortunately for us, we just had no answer. You know, I thought we got some good looks at the basket that didn't go in, then we just weren't quick enough on our rotations on the defensive end,” Pennell said after the loss. “The game got away from us.”
Pennell took over for longtime Arizona head coach Lute Olsen, who retired before the beginning of the 2008-09 season. Pennell said the university is in the process of finding Olsen’s permanent replacement.
“They are doing a national search, and I think they want a more established head coach,” Pennell said. “I knew that coming in."
When asked about the uncertainty of his future, Pennell just laughed.
“It's pretty certain,” Pennell said.
As for now, Pennell said he is still working through the current season and not trying to figure out what comes next for him or the Wildcats.
“This has been an incredible year. And the guys did exactly what I asked them to do: to put all their own agendas on hold for 2008/2009,” Pennell said. “And I did the same thing. What we need to do is enjoy the season for a day or two and then we'll all move forward and see where that takes us.
“But right now, the last thing I'm thinking about is, you know, any job than the one I just finished.”
This season, Pennell has guided Arizona to a 19-13 record.
Pennell returned to college basketball on May 5, 2008, when he joined the Wildcat staff, ending a two-year stint as the head of the Arizona Premier League in the Phoenix area where he worked with fellow Pittsburg State graduate Mark Nelson. He also provided color commentary for the Arizona State University radio network during the 2007-08 season.
Most recently, Pennell served as an assistant coach for Arizona State for eight seasons from 1998-2006 under Rob Evans where the program amassed a 119-120 record and included one trip to the NCAA tournament in 2003 and three trips to the NIT.
Pennell began his coaching career at Oklahoma State University from 1990-92, helping the Cowboys to a 52-16 (.765) record under coach Eddie Sutton.
“When the season is over, you have to find a job,” Pennell said. “I was happy the last four years running a basketball academy and it was a great quality of life. I think there will some opportunities and I want to make sure I am in the right fit.”
Matthew Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140. Follow Morning Sun sports at twitter.com/mssports.