OPINION: Why Tommy Lloyd is a lock to be the National Coach of the Year

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Nathanial Stenchever | The Daily Wildcat

Head coach Tommy Lloyd talks to a referee about a call on the court on Saturday, Feb. 19 in McKale Center. The Arizona men's basketball team would go on to win in the final second, 84-81.

The Arizona men’s basketball team is 24-2 and currently No. 2 in the country in the AP Poll, behind Gonzaga University. 

Arizona is also one of very few teams in the country that are top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The coaching job Tommy Lloyd has done is nothing short of incredible and these stats mirror that. They were also not ranked to open the year and were also picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12. Those expectations have been shattered and then some.

Lloyd has had this team buy in almost immediately, which usually is hard for a new coach. Sean Miller did leave a good amount of talent for Lloyd, but they still had to adjust to a completely different style of playing. Lloyd has implemented an up-tempo style of play that is as efficient as it is fun to watch.

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Lloyd also convinced every player from last year except for James Akinjo and Terrell Brown Jr. to stay and not transfer, while also bringing in a few of his own players. Another thing that has jumped out is the development of certain players under Lloyd as compared to how they looked previously.

The main names that come up are Dalen Terry and Christian Koloko. Terry has emerged as arguably the best passer on the team, as well as acting as a do-it-all glue guy. Terry can rebound, pass, score and play elite defense, which has made him a candidate to watch for a triple-double soon. Koloko went into college as a project and has emerged as a very polished player. His defense has been unmatched throughout the season, and he’s made other big men look bad because of it like University of Michigan's Hunter Dickinson and University of Illinois's Kofi Cockburn. 

He also made a few huge defensive plays down the stretch against the University of Oregon, with none bigger than the block he had on Will Richardson at the buzzer. Those are just two of the players that have ended up thriving thanks to Lloyd’s coaching. 

There are other examples too, like Kerr Kriisa coming into his own with the confidence Lloyd has given him. Bennedict Mathurin also cemented his position as a lottery pick in the next NBA Draft. 

Arizona is set to be a force in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournament, and the architect of that success is Lloyd. President Dr. Robert C. Robbins and Dave Heeke, director of Arizona Athletics, look to hit a home run with the long-time Gonzaga assistant. Now the only question is, how much farther can they go?


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