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Tommy Lloyd not sitting back after wildly successful first season at Arizona

arizona-wildcats-college-basketball-tommy-lloyd-2023-coaching-physical-roster-pac12 Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Tommy Lloyd had his introductory press conference on this day one year ago, and while he came to Arizona with lofty goals he didn’t expect to achieve so many of them this quickly.

“I don’t think when I sat here a year ago that I would have suspected we had the season we would have,” Lloyd said Thursday, the one-year anniversary of his hiring. “But as it started playing out, I saw it. I knew we had something. I’ve been part of good teams before and I thought we were a good team had a chance to be great. When you peel back the layers, and I think back to our first workouts here and how we attacked fundamentals and some of the concepts we wanted to play with it. Just to see the progress the guys made and how much each player improved individually was pretty significant. That was a lot of fun.”

Now comes the hard part: not just sustaining that success but building off it.

Arizona’s roster is in flux right now as it awaits decisions by a few players on their futures. Once it’s set—and even before that—the process will begin to avoid making the 2021-22 season be a fluke.

“The first step is everybody’s got to get better individually, and everybody in the coaching staff has to take a step forward,” Lloyd said. “That’s where your first area of improvement is, improving personnel. So that’s what we’re gonna attack this offseason.”

Lloyd said he has no plans to “reinvent the wheel” but does want to address how Arizona handled (or didn’t handle) the physicality of TCU and Houston in its final two NCAA Tournament games. Those teams banged the Wildcats around, keeping them from being their usual explosive self on offense.

“Those last couple games were extremely physical,” Lloyd said. “I didn’t think we were a soft team, but they were physical. So can we find ways to be a little bit more physical in some of those matchups against TCU or Houston, to kind of increase our margin for error. That would be an area that I would like to see. That’s easier said than done.”

Lloyd admitted to being very tired when he spoke with reporters Wednesday, having just got back in town from recruiting and other commitments after being in New Orleans for the Final Four. But being in the Big Easy also provided some inspiration and motivation.

“I was fortunate enough for some of these Coach of the Year awards,” he said. “One of them, whatever, I had to receive at a media timeout at the national championship game. And I walk out on that court, and I was tired. But when I stepped foot on that court on that Monday night, I was like, yeah, this is where I want to be. I don’t take it for granted, and I’m not making any promises, but it definitely added some fuel to my fire.”