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Hoop-De-Doo

There's a new deputy sheriff in town: Former Toronto Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill has returned to the University of Arizona to be an assistant coach to Lute Olson, in the hopes of lighting a fire under the lackluster Wildcats, who went 20-11 this year.

O'Neill, who served as an assistant coach under Olson from 1986 to 1989, left the UA to become head coach at Marquette University. He's since been head coach at the University of Tennessee and Northwestern University, as well as an assistant coach for the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons, before he took the reins at Toronto for one year. His most recent gig was as an assistant coach for the Indiana Pacers.

"I had some other opportunities in the NBA that I could have pursued, but the thing that really intrigued me was the coming back to Arizona," O'Neill told the press last week.

O'Neill is taking the place of longtime assistant coach Jim Rosborough, who may still be with the program in a non-courtside position if he decides to stick around.

O'Neil said he wasn't coming to town to replace Olson when he retires.

"That's never been talked about with myself with Lute or with (athletic director) Jim Livengood," O'Neil said. "That's not part of the equation as far as I'm concerned. The only part of the equation that I'm really concerned about is, do we get better this year ... go farther? (Succeeding Lute) has never been talked about at all."


But What He Really Wants to Do Is Direct

The Range trekked to the Loft Cinema last Friday, May 4, for the First Friday Shorts end-of-the-year showdown, which featured the best 12 short amateur films of the last year in head-to-head competition.

The energetic entries ranged from Danger Car, in which an old sedan was thoroughly demolished, to Jay Thomas, Acclaimed Psychic, in which a caped mind reader went all Ali G on a fair at the park.

At the end of the night, First Friday Shorts host--and "Red Meat" cartoonist--Max Cannon pinned the championship belt on Nate Buchik for his 12-minute film, On-Call Teddy, which answers the question: What happens when a man who wears a teddy-bear suit, fights crime and comforts children hits rock bottom?

"We wanted to mess up a guy in a bear suit as much as possible and then bring him back to glory," says Buchik, who won a $500 prize for first place.

Buchik, 23, who plans to move to New York in August, also won last year's Friday Night Shorts grand finale. On top of that, he's part of the Sparkle Kids, who have won both of the Loft's 48-Hour Shootouts, in which filmmakers must make their films in two days or less. As the Loft's programming director, Jeff Yanc, puts it: "He is unstoppable, and he has indeed taken a lot of money from the Loft thanks to all of his damn winning, but he's great and very deserving."

Curious about On-Call Teddy? It'll screen before each showing of the documentary Air Guitar Nation, which Yanc describes as "a really funny film about the World Air Guitar Championships," beginning June 8. By the way, the Loft will also host a live "air guitar battle royale" on opening night, so start strumming now!


Clown Time Is Over

Michael Charles Lipscomb will be doing his clowning around in the big house rather than under the big top. Lipscomb, 20, who pleaded guilty to dressing in clown makeup in a series of armed robberies last year, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last week by Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Hantman.

Two of Lipscomb's accomplices, Keianna Jamison, 19, and LaCarol Jamison, 20, have already been sentenced to four and five years, respectively, while a fourth woman, Meika Johnson, is awaiting sentencing.

Elsewhere down at the courthouse: Closing arguments are expected this week in the trial of Ronald Bruce Bigger, the hitman accused of killing Dr. Brian Stidham, who was brutally murdered outside his medical office in October 2004. Last year, a Pima County jury convicted Stidham's former employer, Dr. Brad Schwartz, of conspiracy to murder Stidham. Schwartz is serving 25 years to life.


Time for Change

Gov. Janet Napolitano announced the winning Arizona quarter design--and it's the design that The Range urged readers helped put over the top! In just one year, Americans will be jangling a pocketful of quarters that features the Grand Canyon up top and a majestic saguaro down below.

The Range Quarter got the support of more than 49,500 of the nearly 113,000 Arizonans who voted in the online poll--a number undoubtedly driven by our call for support just a few weeks ago. Way to go, Range readers! Next, we'll decide Arizona's GOP presidential primary!

More by Jim Nintzel

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