clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What Tommy Lloyd, Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo said after Arizona’s win over Utah

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 15 Utah at Arizona Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats rode Azuolas Tubelis’ career-high 32 points to defeat Utah 82-64 at McKale Center Saturday evening. Our recap of the game can be found here.

After the game, Tommy Lloyd, Tubelis and Oumar Ballo discussed the win, Kerr Kriisa’s absence and what challenges lie ahead on the upcoming Bay Area road trip. Videos of the pressers can be found at the bottom.

Lloyd on Kriisa’s absence: “Obviously Kerr didn’t play today. It’s nothing crazy. It’s a surprise to all of us. We had some guys kind of horsing around at pregame meal and he got hurt. So we don’t think it’s anything serious but they held him out tonight and I know that sounds crazy, but that’s what happened. We look forward to getting him back and being at full strength very soon.”

Lloyd on whether Kriisa faces any disciplinary action: “We will handle all those issues internally. I will say this, and nothing with this situation specific to that: having a great culture is tough. And winning and being consistently winning and playing at a championship level is tough. And we’re not there yet. We’re not there yet. I know a lot of people are trying to anoint us that we’re all this or all that. We’re not. We’re a young team that’s going through some growing pains and we’ve just happened to stack up some wins. We’re gonna fight really hard to have a great culture here. Kerr is having an amazing season and obviously you guys see how important he is to our team. Kerr is not the only guy involved in this situation. It’s just unfortunate that he’s the one who had the injury. We’re gonna just handle it as a team and move forward from there.”

Lloyd on whether he anticipates having Kriisa available for the Bay Area trip: “Yes.”

Lloyd on whether he had to change the game plan to reflect Kriisa’s absence: “I found out so close to game time that I just stuck to the same plan. We didn’t really do any crazy adjustments. We kind of made some adjustments as the game was going on. We felt how we were guarding ball screens and felt our role was consistently getting below and we had to play through them. We haven’t had to do that much this year. We haven’t had too many teams play that style of ball screen coverage, but our guys did a great job of hitting (Tubelis) on numerous roles and then once (Tubelis) settled in he was good. He had got surprised with some defensive rotations early, but then after that he kind of figured it out and played really well.”

Lloyd on Tubelis’ career-high scoring outing: “I think we all know how talented (Tubelis) can be. He’s had tremendous moments and tremendous games over the course of his time here. Sometimes he leaves you wanting a little bit more, but also I think it’s really cool to have a player who when you need somebody to step up that can step it up to the level he did today which was exceptional. We’ll see how it goes going forward. Obviously we’d love that effort every day. But I’m especially he gave it to us today because it was much needed.”

Lloyd on the importance of Arizona’s bigs working together: “Well, working together with everybody is a huge key. Obviously turnovers are something we’ve got to address and when you play in that system, sometimes your bigs have a few turnovers here and there because you have multiple handlers of the ball, you don’t just have one guy making decisions. But when they’re playing like that, moving like they were today and connecting on a few high lows, it’s special and it’s a fun offense to coach and it’s hopefully a fun offense to play in and hopefully a fun offense to watch. I really need to challenge those big guys. I’ve coached this system for a lot of years you got to fight to get those high lows, fight to get those duck ins. If you don’t fight, they’re not going to happen. They don’t just happen out of thin air. So, sometimes, it’s tough for those big guys to consistently be engaging physically. They get a little bit worn down maybe mentally and physically and then they got to answer the call because when they play like that, obviously it’s a really effective offense.”

Lloyd on how he would put the homestand in perspective: “2-0. Obviously you guys are watching a lot of games on TV around the country, it’s hard to win. It’s hard to win games. You never take it for granted. And especially in the circumstance we kind of went through today, it’s a character-building win today. It’s a program win to be able to overcome a little bit of adversity at the last second and even when the start of the game is not going your way and didn’t feel like you can make a shot, to hang in there and then end up winning by a decent margin at the end. So, I would categorize it as a very successful homestead. Looking forward to going out on the road here a little bit and seeing what we can do.”

Lloyd on his biggest concerns heading into the road trip: “Obviously, your biggest concerns is having a strong culture that can withstand some adversity, team adversity, individual adversity. Understand that we got to play for the greater good and that’s when we’re at our best. That’s why I was a little bit upset with Adama (Bal) at the end of the game. He’s a young player, I think’s gonna be really good. Really, really, I really think highly of him. To see him call off a ball screen and call an ISO, I don’t know if that’s how we want to play. When those moments happen and creep up. I want to make sure that we address them. Coach (Steven Robinson) reminds me, we’re still in theprocess of building this culture. Just because we’ve won a few games doesn’t mean we’re where we’re at. We’re a young team. We haven’t had a lot of experience having success and going on, stacking up these wins. So we got to be mindful of that and understand that we’re just at the start of our journey. I got to be mindful of that to make sure that we’re doing the right things moving forward to build a long, standing culture that can handle ups and downs and in consistently win. That’s the goal.”

Lloyd on his strategy for when Arizona is cold from 3-point range: “Go inside. Worked pretty good in the second half.”

Lloyd on Oumar Ball being a difference maker off the bench: “I’m really proud of Oumar. He stepped into a high-level game and really was a difference maker. He deserves moments like that, but he’s got to understand he’s responsible for making moments like that happen. That didn’t just happen by chance. That happened because he went out and made it happen and was really active defensively, was posting up underneath the rim and he’s a force when he plays the right way. So hopefully that’ll be a confidence booster for Oumar, because we need everybody, as you guys can see. We need everybody. We don’t we don’t have a huge margin for error. And when he plays like that, he makes us better.”

Lloyd on Justin Kier’s evolving role: “I’m proud of Justin. He’s come here, he’s accepted a different role. He started his whole career. He’s never played point guard. He’s learning that position a little bit and obviously played really good last game and today, I was like, ‘this guy could easily score 20 today.’ It didn’t go his way with shooting, but he hung in there and did a lot of other things well. He was really engaged. His experience shined through and he rose to the occasion. At the end of the year, I think we’re gonna look back at this and be thankful he did today because it was a much-needed win today. Continues to put us in position for things we want to accomplish.”

Lloyd on the potential of Arizona moving up to top-three ranking: “As Nick Saban would say, rat poison. It’s rat poison. This team is sitting around, everybody’s telling them how good they are. They got to understand what makes them good. What makes them good is when they’re edgy, they got a chip on their shoulder, they play incredibly hard, the attention to detail, they take care of the ball, and I feel like we’ve just slipped a little bit in those areas and we got to fight to get them back.”

Tubelis on how he was feeling during his career night: “I felt like I have the best teammates I ever played with. They’re unbelievable passers.”

Tubelis on whether Kriisa’s absence changed the offensive plan: “We have Justin. He practices every day as a point guard and he knows what things he’s doing on the court. He had one turnover and eight assists I think so he played good.”

Ballo on Kier’s presence filling in for Kriisa: “As you know we have a lot of good players on the team. Kerr would have done a good job for our team and we can feel that he was not here. We fell a little bit but at the end of the day we all are good players. … Next line stepped up and then they got the job done.”

Tubelis on feeding off Christian Koloko: “Every game we’re looking for each other, me and C-Lo. It depends on how teams are defending us and how they guarded us. We had some open looks inside. High flash on the top of the nail, low flash, zero flash. We just found each other again. It’s simple. It’s nothing hard to do I think and we just scored.”

Tubelis on whether he was familiar with Utah’s roster: “I think I played against one guy, (Lazar) Stefanovic. I think he’s from Serbia. I knew that he’s a good player. He can shoot the ball well. I lost against him maybe two years (ago) with my national team.”

Ballo on how he would great the team’s performance coming off layoff: “We really try to play games, but this thing is out of our hands. So we just keep focusing, get better as team and worry about what we can control and that’s just us. Being asked getting better every day. Whether we play games or no, it’s not under our control so we’re just worrying about what we can control as a team.”

Ballo on what he’s learned playing with Tubelis and Koloko: “It’s just fun. They are really good players and helping me every single day get better as a player and also as a person. I’m just lucky to have them as a teammate. I spend much of my days with them. I’m grateful for it.”