Unlocking Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd: Discovering 5 Must-Know Insights

Tommy Lloyd’s head coaching career is off to a blazing start. After spending 20 years as an assistant to Mark Few at Gonzaga, Lloyd has achieved a remarkable 61-11 record in his first two years as the head coach of Arizona. I had the opportunity to interview Lloyd this week in Tucson to delve into his sudden success, the loss to Princeton in the NCAA Tournament, and other intriguing topics.

Jon Rothstein: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about being the head coach at Arizona compared to when you first took on the role?

Tommy Lloyd: When I initially took the job, I was aware that coaching at Arizona was a significant responsibility, but now that I have experienced it firsthand, I truly understand the immense impact our program has on the Tucson community. It’s genuinely remarkable.

Rothstein: You’ve achieved a remarkable 61-11 record in your first two years as a college head coach. How did you manage to achieve such immediate success despite not having previous head coaching experience?

Lloyd: First and foremost, I must credit the outstanding opportunity I was given by accepting the position at Arizona. Additionally, I believed in waiting for the right job instead of immediately jumping into a head coaching role. While coaching at Gonzaga, I initially thought I would become the head coach there. However, plans changed, and once I arrived at Arizona, my focus was on working diligently, day by day. I refrained from getting ahead of myself and concentrated on the present. Now, I feel more settled and grasp how things function at this level. I can now commence building a resounding legacy that the fans can take pride in for years to come.

Rothstein: You were part of the Gonzaga staff that suffered defeats in the national title game on two occasions. Where does the loss to Princeton in last year’s NCAA Tournament rank among your most challenging defeats?

Lloyd: Losing a basketball game pales in comparison to the greater difficulties in life. It’s crucial to maintain perspective. However, as a coach with an unwavering passion for the game, defeat brings deep pain. I felt the most disappointment for our players and fans. Building a successful career often entails enduring numerous setbacks. The journey to reaching the Final Four and winning a national championship is undeniably arduous. Yet, it’s essential to persist and improve. Personally, I approached the Princeton loss as an opportunity for growth. I immediately sought ways to enhance our margin for error and better prepare ourselves for crucial moments. I’m grateful for what Princeton’s victory did for my coaching career. I view it as a catalyst to become a better coach. While it was undoubtedly difficult for us, it ultimately serves as a valuable lesson and motivates us to perform at a higher level.

Rothstein: This season, you have a combination of returning veterans and talented newcomers. Who among the new recruits do you believe will make the biggest impact?

Lloyd: As our roster took shape, the foundation established by Kylan Boswell, Pelle Larsson, and Oumar Ballo provided a solid base for building a formidable team. With the addition of exceptional transfers like Caleb Love, Jaden Bradley, and Keshad Johnson, I believe we have the potential to become a top-10 team. Jaden Bradley, whom we vigorously pursued, perfectly aligns with our team’s culture and will thrive here. Keshad Johnson fills a specific need and will have a significant impact, although his style may differ from Azuolas Tubelis. Lastly, Caleb Love’s addition elevates our team’s talent level. Having abundant talent is one thing, but constructing a cohesive unit is another challenge. Nevertheless, I’m tremendously excited about the future.

Rothstein: Arizona will be moving to the Big 12 in the 2024-25 season, allowing for existing rivalries to continue in non-conference matchups. Is that something you plan to explore?

Lloyd: Absolutely. Mick Cronin and I have discussed the possibility, but we haven’t finalized any plans yet. Arizona versus UCLA would undeniably be an exciting rivalry, not only for West Coast basketball but for the sport as a whole. This transition presents a unique two-year cycle. This year marks the end of our time in the Pac-12, and next year marks a fresh beginning in the Big 12. It generates a sense of anticipation. While this final Pac-12 season may evoke some nostalgia, we aim to give our best efforts. Next year represents a new chapter, and I feel better prepared to guide Arizona to new heights as a result of these changes.



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