Arizona men’s basketball coach Tommy Lloyd and all-conference selections Benn Mathurin and Azuolas Tubelis spoke to the Pac-12 Network Wednesday during the league’s media day.
Some of the best quotes are below:
Lloyd on his first priority after accepting the Arizona job: “The first thing for me, especially in this new era of transfers and everything, was just connecting with the current guys on the roster and doing the best job I could with them and figuring out what their wants and needs were. You can call it re-recruiting, you can call it building a relationship, whatever you want, but to me that that was priority one is making sure that I’m embracing the current guys in the program. Obviously the next step is figuring out the gaps you have and trying to fill them.”
Lloyd on inheriting a strong roster: “When you’re part of a program like Arizona you’re always gonna have expectations so I think the best thing you have to do is embrace them and then you have to wrap your arms around all the reasons there are expectations. It’s a great place to coach and play basketball so you should have good players. I’m thankful for the core of guys that Sean (Miller) had left me and then I think we were able to kind of address some needs recruiting wise. I’m looking forward to us being really competitive, and I think we should be a team competing to win games in the NCAA Tournament.”
Mathurin on the progress of Arizona’s roster additions: “We see a lot of great talent. We had some grad transfer: Justin Kier, Kim Aiken. ew have a lot of new freshmen, freshmen who are pretty young: Adama (Bal), Shane (Nowell). We have Pelle (Larsson) too, a transfer, so we a great team this year. We already built team chemistry. We are more a family than a team, so I just feel like this year will be really fun.”
Tubelis on emerging as a team leader: “I just need to lead my team by showing my results, how I score, how I fight on the boards, and I just need to show myself more, to be more physical, be more defensive of a player.”
Lloyd on how the team is understanding his style of coaching: “I think the foundation’s in — how we want to move on offense, the core principles on defense. I think now what has to happen with any team is you got to get tested a little bit. I think adversity is the greatest teacher, and we’ve got to see where we’re at and when the rubber hits the road. From there I think that’s where you really solidify who you want to be. You could say you have all these great ideas and how you want to play and do this and do that, but if you go get punched in the face and it all goes to nothing, then what do you got? So that’s what I’m looking forward to. I think the foundation is there and I think we’re ready to be tested.”
Mathurin on Lloyd’s message to the team so far: “His message for the team is play hard, no excuses. Be more vocal. Just play hard and run the floor most of the time. He tells us be a great teammate, get to know the team. Team chemistry is everything.”
Lloyd on his offense-first coaching philosophy: “I think my style as coach is I want to be about winning, right? I think recently our good Gonzaga teams were really good on defense. That’s something I’ve definitely tried to continue that foundation. Obviously they were well taught (under Miller) and great effort, had a great idea about concepts, so we’re going to continue to build on some of those things defensively. Offensively, I think it’s one of the most enjoyable, fun things about the game for fans, for coaches is getting up and down, ball movement, player movement, guys working together, and I really believe more in teaching guys how to play more than necessarily just running plays.”
Mathurin on the difference in style of play between Miller and Lloyd: “I would say Tommy brought a fast-paced, different type of game. Things like the running the floor, it’s more like transition game. Even if you’re a guard or even a forward, just catch the ball from a rebound and just push the ball fast break. The game is really fast compared to last year.”
Lloyd on coaching Tubelis and Mathurin: “They’re both really talented players. High character, great guys and they’re at a really exciting sweet spot of their career where they’re young but they’ve played real minutes, have real experience of playing high level Division I basketball. I think they have a really great foundation to build off of. They know what this is about. I’m really looking forward to these guys making a huge jump for us this year and being All-conference type players.”
Mathurin on competing in the FIBA World Cup this past summer: “It was really fun. I played against great players from different countries. I played against Azuolas. He had a great game against me. It was fun My first time playing for Team Canada, it was a great experience.
Tubelis on when he made a leap as a freshman: “The first five, six games, I played like seven to 10 minutes. After the Washington State game, I started the game and I was surprised. Like, why coach? Am I that good? But yeah I just showed how can I play on how good I can be. I think I just need to like I said to be more physical, make good decisions offensively and defensively, and I will help my team as best as I can.”
Mathurin on his advice to the freshmen: “My advice to the freshman this season will be that it’s going to be easy the first game. I remember me not playing a lot of minutes my first games and I was really not sure of myself or who I was as a person or a player. The road is going to be up and down, but you’ve just got to keep your head up and just keep practicing hard and making sure you get better every day.”
Lloyd on adjusting to life in Tucson: “It’s well known I’m not a big city guy. Tucson is a big town, so I’ve been very comfortable there and everybody was so welcoming to me and my family. I love the passion. One of the most appealing parts of the job is the fan base and just to know that you’re going to be playing in a full arena every night with fans that are living and dying on every made or missed shot. It’s exhilarating.”