I was a student at the U of A when the first great team rose to prominence in 1987-1988. For a team that had been awful in the previous years and only had risen to the point of a first round knockout the year before, the thrill was undeniable on campus. It was like winning the lottery. Rising through the ranks and finally finishing the regular season that year and by week 5 the team was the #1 ranked team in the country. Olson was pure class, the team was a team of people and characters you could absolutely root for. Good people, especially Kerr with his recent horror of his father's murder. Battling through the entire season and losing only twice. They pounded their first tournament opponent by 40 or 50 points.
Even the backups on that team ended up being long term pro ballplayers. Jud Buechler and Kenny Lofton.
Elliott helped turn the Spurs in to a powerhouse, Kerr won a handful of championships. Tolbert and Anthony Cook had pro careers. Rooks came along the next season. The success, the class, and the upward momentum helped the program recruit so well for the next ten years. Final Fours became almost expected. What a thrill ride it was, and it was thanks to the pure skill and class of Lute Olson.