Entering his 18th year at Arizona, Jim Rosborough (pronounced ROZZ‑burr‑oh) has proven himself to be one of the top game strategists around ?- a role he has developed in 27 seasons working alongside Lute Olson. His expertise and familiarity of the Olson system is one of the driving forces that sustains the Arizona program as one of the finest in the country, both on and off the court.
Rosborough’s often behind-the-scenes efforts were evident in 2004-05, as his steady hand molded the Wildcat perimeter into one of the nation’s most productive. After struggling out of the gate, the Wildcats caught fire, shooting better than 50 percent from the floor over it’s last 28 games, all while increasing assists and decreasing turnovers as the club won 30 games, claimed the school’s 11th Pac-10 championship and advanced to the NCAA regional final for the third time in the last five years. His efforts could also be seen in the maturation of Salim Stoudamire, as Rosborough helped the senior become the most accurate and one of the most productive guards in the country.
2003-04 saw the Wildcats use a perimeter-dominant lineup that finished the season as the nation’s top-scoring team (87.1 ppg) for the second year in a row and ranked third nationally in assists per game (18.7 apg). Along the way, Arizona won 20 games for the 17th consecutive year and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the 20th straight season.
The 2002-03 campaign saw Rosborough put in some of his best work. He turned a senior, a sophomore and three freshmen into arguably the finest perimeter group, a group that was the driving force behind a club that won 28 games, spent 13 weeks atop the Associated Press’ top-25 poll and won the school’s 10th Pac-10 championship. With Rosborough’s assistance, Arizona has eight 25-win seasons in the last 15 years.
Rosborough’s cool demeanor was essential in 2001-02 as the Wildcat staff molded a squad made up of three juniors and seven underclassmen into the eventual Pac-10 Tournament Champions and NCAA Tournament Sweet “16" participants. With Rosborough’s assistance as a motivator and strategist, Arizona met the challenge of the nation’s most difficult schedule and won more than 20 games for the 15th consecutive season.
One needs to look no further than his performance during Olson's leave of absence in the middle of the 2000‑01 season to realize just how crucial Rosborough is to Wildcat basketball. Despite high emotions on and off the court, he led the team to a 3‑1 Pac‑10 record in Olson's absence, including a road sweep of the Washington schools that many surrounding the team considered the turning point of the season as the Cats eventually finished as the NCAA runner-up. His strong ability to lead allowed the team to continue with as little interruption as possible.
Rosborough was promoted to associate head coach following Arizona's 1996‑97 NCAA championship season in a move that gave him expanded duties within the program and demonstrated his invaluable position in the Arizona basketball program. In his career, he has made 23 trips to postseason play, including four Final Four appearances, and has helped 17 Arizona teams win just under 80 percent of its games since joining the program in April of 1989.
Game preparation and defense are Rosborough's main focuses for the Cats and it is no coincidence that those have been crucial elements of Arizona's two most recent Final Four appearances. He also works with Arizona's perimeter players and has helped the Cats produce four backcourt first‑team All‑Americans in the past eight seasons, including 1998‑99 National Player of the Year Jason Terry, as well as 1997‑98 Player‑of‑the‑Year finalists Mike Bibby and Miles Simon, and 2003 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Player of the Year Jason Gardner. Those four, along with 1994‑95 All‑American and former NBA Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire, cite Roz's coaching as a reason for their success. It’s no secret that Rosborough has helped turn Arizona basketball into “Point Guard U.” All told, Rosborough has produced 40 NBA Draft picks.
Rosborough also directs the Lute Olson Basketball Camps, oversees most daily office operations and is greatly involved with the academic progress of the players. In addition, he has been closely involved in recruiting efforts that have consistently attracted top‑flight classes, including the 2005‑06 class, which is ranked among the top 10 in the nation.
Rosborough, who will turn 62 in December, was a top aide to Olson at Iowa from 1974 to 1983. While there, he built a solid reputation during the rebirth of Hawkeye basketball in the 1970s that included six 20‑win seasons, five NCAA berths, a Big Ten title in 1979 and a Final Four appearance in 1980. As a recruiter on those early Hawkeye teams, he had repeated success in Chicago, drawing four starters from the Windy City for Iowa's Final Four club that included All‑Americans Ronnie Lester and Kevin Boyle along with Steve Krafcisin and Kenny Arnold. He was also responsible for recruiting 16 future NBA draft picks to Iowa City and he helped design a defense which twice led the Big Ten in scoring defense.
When Olson departed for Arizona, Rosborough remained an assistant to Iowa athletic director Bump Elliott and did color commentary for Hawkeye basketball. He was then an aide to J.D. Barnett at Tulsa for a year, where he helped guide the Golden Hurricanes to an NCAA tournament appearance.
Rosborough took his first head coaching position at Northern Illinois University in April, 1986. He posted a record of 28‑56 in three seasons at NIU (1987‑89), but his first recruiting class went on to a 26‑5 record and NCAA Tournament bid in its senior season.
Rosborough is in his 33rd season of intercollegiate athletics at the Division I level. A 1962 graduate of Moline (Ill.) High School where he was an all‑state forward, Rosborough was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame on April 27, 2002, to honor his outstanding prep playing career. Rosborough’s interests outside of basketball include music, and he is active in community governance at Epworth Heights in Ludington, Mich., his family summer home.
He received his bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1966 from Iowa and earned his teaching certificate from Loyola (Ill.) in 1970. He and his wife, Kim, have two sons, Greg (23), a former UA basketball video manager, and Jon (22). Rosborough, a crafty veteran of the Tucson tennis circuit, was born on Dec. 2, 1944, in Davenport, Iowa. He and Kim were married in Iowa City, Iowa.