Arizona bounced back from the loss at Utah by beating winless Cal on Sunday afternoon at McKale Center, evening its Pac-12 record at 1-1.
The fourth-ranked Wildcats (7-1) don’t play again until Saturday when they face No. 10 Utah in Las Vegas. Coach Tommy Lloyd is expecting a tough week of practice ahead of that game, but not before taking Monday off.
“I’m looking forward to a day off tomorrow,” Lloyd said. “I think the guys need a day away from me. A day to stay out of the gym and then gear it up to play a great Indiana team on Saturday.”
Our full recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd said afterward:
On bouncing back from the Utah loss: “We just didn’t step up to the plate (against Utah). “To get back out there today was good. And I knew it wasn’t going to be a game where it felt good, it felt comfortable. I’ve known Coach (Mark) Fox for a long time. He’s a good coach and his team is struggling, I knew they were gonna come in here and fight. I know fans and people are gonna see the record, and maybe our players too, and think it’s gonna come easy. It’s not how it goes and it’s not how you want it to go. I knew it was gonna be a grindy game, and I was on the guys pretty hard the last couple days, and anytime a coach guy kinda turns the heat up, you get some response but you also get some guys that are a little bit tentative, and they got to work themselves through it, and we did today. So all in all, I’m happy with the way it turned out.”
On recent 3-point shooting struggles: “At the end of the day offense is about taking great shots. In Maui and some of those early games, I didn’t tell them, hey really try to make your threes today. It just happens, sometimes you make them, sometimes you don’t. I mean, I haven’t even looked at the shooting numbers, what they were today ... we shot 49 percent. I mean, I bet most teams in the country would be pretty excited shooting 49 percent and making 19 of 26 from the free throw line. The threes didn’t go today, but we have good shooters shooting those 3-point shots. All in all, the law of averages will play out in I think a good favor for Arizona.”
On Cal’s defense causing problems: “They were switching between what we’d call kind of a matchup zone, which we honestly just worked on yesterday for the first time. I didn’t think, coming back from Utah in Friday’s, practice we needed to focus on ourselves. So we kind did some stuff going over how we wanted to attack that matchup, and for the most part, I thought we were okay. And then sometimes they’d be in straight man-to-man. They’re switching defenses, maybe you’re not getting that same look of a shot if you were 40 (playing) minutes against a certain defense.”
On getting the offense back on track: “I think there’s a simple formula. You have 1A and 1B: effort and toughness. And then you have 2A and 2B, execution and intelligence. 2A and 2B don’t matter if you’re not mastering 1A and 1B. So, just every time you take the court you gotta play with great effort and you gotta play with great toughness. Then the better you do your stuff and the smarter you do it, the better chance you have to win. We’re learning that, we’re learning that as coaches, we got to learn how to apply it to this team. As players, they gotta learn it. We have young players that are trying to figure it out, we have veterans that are coming back, some of them in new roles, and we have transfers that you’re trying to blend in. I’m sure almost every other team in the country is dealing with the same exact thing.”
On having a season-low 5 turnovers: “I wish I could find a formula to do that every single day. But I don’t know if you’re gonna play the way we play and have five turnovers a game consistently. There’s a little bit of a give and take there. Usually over the course of the season, guys seem to tighten that stuff up.”
On Oumar Ballo missing 7 of 10 free throws: “Oumar’s probably never going to be Larry Bird from the free throw line. But I know he’s better than he was today. He just needs to stay on it in practice. But listen, there’s still value. There’s still value when you’re go 3 of 10 from the line, I know we can be greedy and want a little bit more, but he puts tons of foul pressure on the other team. Those are body blows, and he does a great job of wearing other teams out, and he’s been really, really consistent so far this year, which is awesome to see.”
On Pelle Larsson: “Pelle is a great player. I mean, obviously, his numbers maybe aren’t where he would like them to be, or where we kind of expected them to be, but that happens sometimes. If Pelle is my problem, then I probably don’t have very many problems. He’s gonna figure it out. And he’s gonna have a great season. He’s just got to hang in there. Sometimes you’ll hang in there and then he’ll, he’s really going to help us. He’s a guy that I love having on our team and I completely trust him.”
On Azuolas Tubelis missing 9 shots: “I just think he’s got to stay locked down a little bit. At the start of that second half I think he missed a few bunnies. Making layups is hard, it’s something we practice every single day. And he just relaxed a little bit. But he’s done a great job finishing overall this year. We want him over 60 (percent), and we’ll get him there. If he locks in a little bit more he’ll get there.”
On the bench production: “Obviously, I wish it was more. I think I got to do a good job is developing more. The number one thing I wrote down is developing young guys. I gotta develop those guys, gotta get them better. Our staff, we got to do a great job getting them better and get them to hang in there and keep confident as they’re going through struggles they’ve never went through. Over the course of the year I think those guys are all really good players. I’m gonna push him, but I’m gonna also be a little bit patient with them. And I think as the season plays out, they’re gonna be a great asset.”
On Adama Bal: “I think Adama is going through things that all young players do. I think he had a little bit early success. He kind of got off to a slow start this fall, in practice, and he twisted his ankle and then he kind of had a great month where he was really coming. I think he played okay in those exhibition games and those first couple games. And the he kind of got over to Maui, he didn’t play great, aand maybe didn’t get a ton of opportunities. And coming back to these last two games probably hasn’t been super productive, but the breakthrough is coming. He’s got to hang with it. I have a quote I use with our guys all the time: what is learned through struggle is way more valuable than what comes easy? And struggle is part of this process, so I want these guys to struggle a little bit, but we gotta them through it and they got to get out to the other side.”
On Arizona’s defense: “Our defense has to get better. I gotta build a better defense for this team. We can do some of the things we did last year and maybe some things we have to do different. Those are the things you learned over the course of the year that you honestly couldn’t predict going into the season. You have to let it play out right in front of you, and then you gotta have enough guts to make some tough decisions and change some coverages and make some plans. I love that part of coaching, I look forward to it.”
On preparing for Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis and others: “Those are really good players. We have a great scout team. I mean, obviously, they’re not gonna be as talented as those guys, but they’ll do a great job of simulating what they do. We’ll do the best job trying to prep our team to get ready to playing, obviously, a traditionally great program. It’s going to be a great atmosphere against really good players, and it’s an opportunity we need, and we’re looking forward to it.”