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What Tommy Lloyd, Oumar Ballo and KJ Lewis said after Arizona’s win over Colgate

arizona-wildcats-mens-basketball-colgate-raiders-postgame-tommy-lloyd-oumar-ballo-kj-lewis-2023 Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Arizona took care of business on Saturday, beating Colgate 82-55 to set itself up for the No. 1 ranking in the next Associated Press Top 25. It would be the Wildcats’ first time being No. 1 since 2014, but Oumar Ballo isn’t looking at it as a major milestone.

“It doesn’t really mean anything,” Ballo said. “It’s not March, it’s not April, and we have bigger goals than just being No. 1.”

UA coach Tommy Lloyd took a different tact, calling it “what we want in this program.”

Our recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd, Ballo and KJ Lewis said after the victory.

Lloyd on if having 8 days off impacted Arizona’s start: “I don’t think so. I don’t think the start was that bad, they’re a good team. Like I said, games start out 0-0. In basketball, you score one, two or three points at a time, and those possessions have to accumulate to build a lead. You’re not going to start up 30-0, and you’re not going to be Colgate by 30. They’re a really good team. I was happy how our guys came out, I thought the effort and energy was good, and we just kind of got a feel for them and they’re a good physical team who had a good plan that they’re comfortable executing. So it just took us a little while to figure it out.”

On getting 14 offensive rebounds and holding Colgate to no second shots: “We focused on offensive rebounding, and a lot of offensive rebounding is just effort and attentiveness. We’re on the guys to do that,it’s an important part of what we do and it always has been. I’ll have to go back and watch. Certain teams come in here and they make a decision to get everybody back. They don’t want to get in an up and down game and maybe they were getting everybody back and they put a heavy emphasis on defensive transition than trying to get on the offensive glass.”

On Ballo getting a double-double: “He’s coming along. Everyone has high expectations for Oumar because of the progress he’s made, and I think he’s played really well. He’s trending in the right direction. Number 55 was like an oak tree out there, he’s a big strong guy, so it was definitely a battle. Oumar, you’re probably not used to getting hit like that, and that credit goes to 55. I think it just took a little bit of while for Oumar maybe to get comfortable with it and for our guys and maybe find him.”

On Ballo not being as dominant as last season: “When you’re a really good player, like Oumar, is you’re not going to be constantly trending upwards. There’s going to be ups and downs because you’re already pretty good. I think Oumar is right where we need him to be. I think he’s establishing himself and I think you’ll probably have some stretches over the season where he’s extremely dominant.”

On Pelle Larsson: “Pelle is a really good all-around player. He values that and we value that, so he’s gonna impact the game and a lot of areas. He’s really coachable. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s not afraid of the moment. He’s a guy that is gonna give you a great effort almost every night.”

On the key to the second half: “We wanted to be aggressive, get the ball up a little bit. I would say they’re kind of a compact defense, pack line, whatever you want to call it, but they’re a little bit more compact. They’re really not the heaviest on pressuring the ball. There’s more gap there, so it takes a little bit of time to get used to that. We’re used to maybe facing more pressure and I think our guys had to get comfortable staying with possessions, moving the ball getting, to the next action. And then eventually, if you move the pieces enough, you’re gonna find the creases in the defense and the little pockets to either penetrate or make passes.”

On scheduling a team like Colgate: “We like scheduling good teams. We schedule the games we can get on the dates that work. But obviously there’s great value in a program like Colgate. Colgate had Syracuse down 20 at Syracuse, that’s says something. For us to come in here and kind of get a lead on them and build on it over the course of 40 minutes, I mean, I think it’s a great thing.”

On possibly being No. 1: “I think it’s great. It’s what we want in this program, and I think we got to get comfortable being in this position. We’re not going to get big heads or make it too big of a deal. But I know when I came to this program, my dream was to make it one of the best in the country. And if you’re one of the best in the country, you’re going to stumble into being No. 1 once in a while. So you know what? Handle it, and that’ll be the message, and hopefully our guys will handle it well. I think it’s something, it’s great for the fans during, it generates a little bit of excitement,, but at the end of the day, Saturday, I don’t think Wisconsin cares. So you’re gonna have a hard game for 40 minutes against a really good team. If you’re No. 1 you don’t start out 5-0, you start out 0-0. We’ll just approach it like that.”

On if other teams played harder against his Gonzaga teams when they were No. 1: “I don’t know, because I don’t know what those other teams are thinking. I’m not asking them. I’m not saying, ‘are you guys playing harder against us because we’re number one and number two?’ Maybe you could say it’s a bigger deal., I don’t know. Listen, I don’t know what Duke was rated when we we’re playing them. I don’t care if it was rated 101, we wanted to go in there and win that game, and we were gonna play our butts off no matter what.”

On Caleb Love becoming more of an all-around player: “I just told him, you’re gonna come to Arizona, you’re probably not going to score 25 a game, it’s the way we’re kind of built. But you could have a big, big impact, and here’s some of the things we can do offensively, but I’m also going to demand you be good in every other area. And he’s been 100 percent receptive to that. I think he’s doing a great job. He had eight rebounds today, I saw, which is awesome. I’m proud of the progress he’s making and I’m proud of the person and player he is and we’re lucky to have him.”

On the team’s morale after a 7-0 start: “I think it’s good. Hopefully our morale is always good, win or lose. I mean, that’s’s part of the deal. We got to be steady in our approach. I think the mood is good. The guys know that I have really high standards, no matter what, or how they feel like they played, they also know Monday we come in and we’re probably going to address a few things to try to get better.”

On Kylan Boswell’s shooting: “Kylan, he should be a true freshman. So we can’t forget that, and he’s having a lot of experiences and learning a lot, how to how to respond to those. I just see him trending in the right direction and I see so much more room for growth that that excites me. Kylan knows I’m on him, I’m on him pretty hard behind the scenes, because because I have high expectations for him. And I think that’s what he needs, that’s the way he needs to be coached to meet those expectations. He’s doing a great job. Hey, you’re gonna have a good half, you’re gonna have a quiet half, you’re gonna have a bad half, it’s kind of how it goes, and hopefully it doesn’t affect the next one.”

On Ballo wearing his hair out and sporting a headband: “Honestly, I don’t notice what shoes they wear. I don’t notice if it’s if they wear a headband or not, I don’t know if they were an arm sleeve. I just know if they wear in Arizona jersey, and that’s all I paid attention to.”

Ballo on free throw shooting, and if teams will try to foul him: “This thing is sometimes, it happens. The more fouls that I draw the better it is for our team, because we’re gonna get to the bonus earlier and that’s not going to be a bad thing for the team. I just got to try to shoot it every time the same, the same motion, the same form.”

On if he’s feeling pressure to score more: “No pressure. This year’s team is way better than last year’s team. Last year I had so much to carry, and this year thankfully I don’t. I just have to be a big leader for the team.”

On his new hairdo: “I let it out and I got a double-double.”

Lewis on the slow start: “When you’ve taken that long to play in a game you’ll come off to a slow start, but I think once we found the rhythm and got adjusted to like their tempo, their pace, I think we ... got the jitters out. I think we were all excited to be back out there.”

On the gameplan: “The big emphasis was pressure. Pressure the ball and rebound. We do a great job at both of those things, day in and day out. Every game we come in really, really prepared and locked in on the scout.”

On Caleb Love: “I’ve seen him improve every day, day in and day out. He’s doing a great job on being a great leader, being a great teammate.”