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Tommy Lloyd is ready to bring Arizona back to the national stage

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The new Arizona men’s basketball head coach Tommy Lloyd categorized Arizona as a “dream come true,” when he accepted the job.

Arizona basketball has had a lot of success throughout the past 25 seasons. That time which includes the Lute Olson era is the reason Arizona is a basketball school. A national championship won by coach Olson in 1997 made Arizona a powerhouse in the West. Since that championship in ‘97, Arizona has finished with one runner-up, four final four appearances, seven elite eight appearances, four conference tournament championships and nine conference regular-season championships. 

“As we were building the program at Gonzaga, Arizona was the standard, and it's a program we always looked up to and always admired,” Lloyd said in his first introductory press conference. “This is the only place I would ever leave Gonzaga to come.” 

Lloyd has spent the entirety of his coaching career as an assistant coach to long-time Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, 20 seasons to be exact. Gonzaga has dominated their conference throughout Lloyd’s tenure in Spokane, Washington, winning 19 West Coast Conference regular-season titles and 15 conference tournament titles. Few, with Lloyd’s help, has built a powerhouse of a program on the west coast, making the NCAA tournament every single season that Lloyd was there. Gonzaga is most recently off of a national loss, where they lost their only game of the season to the Baylor Bears in that national championship game. 

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Lloyd also had a stipulation in his contract at Gonzaga to be the next head coach after Few. That shows the kind of trust that his former boss and the university had in Lloyd's skills as a coach.

Lloyd’s biggest praises as an assistant coach were in recruiting and development, which is a great pull for Arizona if he can do those things in Tucson. During Lloyd’s time at Gonzaga, a few notable players recruited and developed include Adam Morrison, Domantas Sabonis, Rui Hachimura, Kelly Olynyk and most recently Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs. 

Older starting players have been scarce and few in the Arizona men’s basketball program for the last few years. The program's last elite eight appearance in 2015 was led by veteran starters in senior TJ McConnell and juniors Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley. The development of older players will be key for the program going forward in the form of having experienced players and older leadership. 

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A big coaching aspect that Lloyd has been very vocal about since getting more time with the Arizona roster is the up-tempo offense we will see from the team. Gonzaga ran this through most of his time there especially when they recruited and developed players well. The up-tempo offense creates more opportunities for easier baskets and more points. The athletes currently on the roster will be able to cater well to this style, especially the younger players. It's a simple offense and doesn’t require tons of specific plays but gives more control to the athletes on being aggressive and fast.

Lloyd has done all to credit former coaches Olsen and Sean Miller, speaking of the success of the program over the last 40 years, namely due to the previous two coaches. Lloyd met with Miller this past summer to get a little insight into the new job from its former suitor. Lloyd at the beginning of his coaching career at Gonzaga coached against Olson when he was at the helm of the program back in 2003 in the NCAA tournament, which Lloyd described as “an epic game,” which ended in a double-overtime win for Arizona. 

The dream that continues to elude Lloyd since even his days at Gonzaga was that of winning a national championship. Being at the helm of the program gives Lloyd way more hands-on attempts of trying to bring one back to Tucson. 

“I want to be a part of it … let’s get this program back to where we’re raising another national championship banner [in McKale Center], that’s my dream … I know I'm in the right place today,” Lloyd said.


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (12/8)
669 11 1.6%
Total (8/2)
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Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated December 8, 2021