As a wide-eyed graduate assistant basketball coach at the University of Arizona in 1985, I felt as if I had arrived. Laboring as a high school coach for five years offered good experience but could never have prepared me for the next 24 months. Knowing Coach Lute Olson from my undergraduate days at the University of Iowa helped me land this once in a lifetime opportunity. My wife and I had just been married a year earlier and took this adventure on with open arms. We both worked full time and hardly saw each other long enough to catch up. We both had agreed that embracing the profession of college coaching would take every ounce of energy and creativity we had. We were poised to make the most of this two year position on the Wildcat staff.
The 1985-86 season was just the third of many years that Hall of Fame Coach Lute Olson would roam the sidelines at Arizona. The rebuilding process began two years earlier and mapped out a great future path for the program. Among those who Olson signed late in the spring of 1983 was Steve Kerr, an “Opie” Taylor look alike from Southern California. He had caught the eye of Olson during a late summer league game with his ability to shoot from all over the floor. Minus a step of quickness and a load of athleticism, Kerr jumped at the opportunity and enrolled at Arizona that fall.
Not long after hitting campus it was evident that Kerr had the makings of a special player. He had the knowledge and moxy of a veteran NBA guard to go along with his long range shooting ability. He assimilated into the Wildcat program with ease and became a leader immediately on and off the floor. Kerr was beginning his third season at college the fall we joined the Arizona staff.
Immediately after arriving in Tucson I charged full speed into my new position. A self proclaimed organization freak, I got set up in my new office. Actually it was a film room with a narrow table propped up against the wall. I would have worked in the dugout of the Jerry Kindall baseball field if I had to. Taking on every task imaginable filled my days as I settled in. My running mate, Tom Billeter, was also a graduate assistant and we became inseparable for the next two years. Recruiting, practice, weights, conditioning, study table, and game preparation were all part of the job and we embraced it 24 hours a day.
A month into our first season I began to get comfortable with the staff and team. Six freshmen dotted the roster including high school All-American Sean Elliott of nearby Cholla HS. It was evident early on that Kerr was as nasty and competitive as they come. Nasty in the sense that nothing he was associated with would be defeated, a trait that coaches covet. When a mother duck feels threatened she will do anything to …"Coaching Steve Kerr – Reflections on My Time With the Nba’s Greatest Shooter"