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What Tommy Lloyd, Kylan Boswell and Keshad Johnson said after Arizona’s season-opening win over Morgan State

arizona-wildcats-tommy-lloyd-mens-basketball-postgame-morgan-state-kylan-boswell-keshad-johnson-2023 Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona scored its most points in a game in 25 years, coming one point shy of tying the school record for margin of victory. But the numbers really meant nothing to Tommy Lloyd.

“I was more focused on the effort and energy,” Lloyd said after the Wildcats’ 122-59 destruction of Morgan State. “I thought for the most part, we hit that standard today, and that’s something we really want to establish.”

Arizona won its opener for the 17th consecutive season, but the level of competition is going up immensely with a trip Friday to second-ranked Duke.

“It’s the first chapter in a long book,” Lloyd said. “You don’t get awards for how you play in your first game. We have a mature group that understands that, and I think we’re looking forward to the next game and seeing what we can do.”

Our game recap can be found here. Below is what Lloyd, guard Kylan Boswell and forward Keshad Johnson had to say about the win:

Lloyd on what his goals were for the opener: “You’re trying to establish a standard, and you have a lot of guys who’ve never worn that Arizona uniform in a real game. So we really want to hammer home what our standards are. And I think for the most part, our guy checked those boxes. I’m looking for effort, I’m looking for intelligence, and I’m looking for unselfishness. And for the most part, I think we had a lot of plays that exemplify that today.”

On taking care of the ball after struggling with turnovers in the final exhibition: “Seven turnovers is a is a tremendous number in a high-possession game. I think the offensive rebounding was something else we really emphasized. If you can control turnovers and create second opportunities on the offensive glass, that’s a pretty dynamic combination that’s gonna allow you to be really efficient on offense. I was proud of our guys, the message was heard. Last exhibition game when we had 20-something (turnovers), that’s obviously not good enough. But that’s why you play those exhibition games. You’re not looking for perfection, you’re looking for opportunities to learn. I was proud of our guys for learning that.”

On Pelle Larsson returning from an ankle injury: “Pelle is a great player. His experience in our system is so valuable, and he played so hard and so smart. I just think having them out there, the more and more we get him out there with those other guys, kind of in this crucial early part of the season, you get real reps. And when you get real reps, you can really dig in and learn things from them. A lot of positive things you can learn from those reps, and sometimes negative. I love having him out there because that makes our team whole. He’s just a heck of a ballplayer.”

On if he was limited to 15 minutes: “The objective was to win the basketball game. I don’t know if we really had a pitch count or anything specifically.”

On the aggressive guard play: “Having guards who can make a layup is a huge advantage. And I’m not saying that lightly or making a joke, because it’s really hard to do in high-level basketball. To have guards that finish 2-point shots at the rim is really, it’s kind of rare. So to have a few guys that have that ability, and we still got to get better. I mean, I think we missed a couple layups from those guys today. It’s something we work on on the daily, and I think it’s going to be a real added weapon to our arsenal that’ll show over the course of the season.”

On if he’s figured out a rotation for a tougher game like at Duke: “We’re going to talk, we’ll talk about it as a staff, and we will do what we feel gives us the best chance to win that game. I wouldn’t use it as an indicator for final decisions to be made. For me, we have six starters. You can probably give me four combinations and I’d be like, ‘yeah, I’m good with that.’ We kind of settled in on one tonight and we’ll see what we do moving forward. Some of those other guys off the bench that are kind of earning their opportunities and learning their way in our program, are really good players. I don’t want to sell them short.”

On how much he plans to play small this season: “With Henri’s injury it kind of tilted things in that direction. But it’s a style that we’ve been really comfortable playing. We’ve done it the last two years and just people forget about it. And we’ve probably done it a lot more than people realize. It’s something we’re really comfortable doing and we kind of have our our plan when we do it. We kind of installed it maybe a week or two ago, so it’s kind of fresh, so we’re still learning, but I think it’s got a lot of potential.”

On Motiejus Krivas: “For a freshman, your first official game under the lights, I think he did well. I think there were some real positives and I think there was a couple things he’ll learn from. Ball strength, ball security, different ways to finish in traffic and around the basket, which are hard. He’s got great hands. He’s got tremendous potential. And I just think that, as we kind of move forward in the season, the combination of him and Oumar (Ballo) can be really powerful.

On if he’s treating the trip to Duke as just another game: “It’s Arizona vs. Duke, I think that’s enough said right there. No matter what happens, I mean, hopefully you have two great teams that are going to have an epic early season battle. I think that’d be great for college basketball. But no matter what happens, I don’t think there’s going to be any postseason awards given out by what happens the second (game on) November 10th. If you go and play well, it’s a great opportunity to really build your resume. If you go and struggle, it’s going to be an awesome learning opportunity that I’m sure you’re gonna be better for.”

On if the players might have been looking ahead to that game: “If you’re not excited to play in your first game, in front of 1000s of fans, I don’t know what to tell you. Any time we play in McKale, against any opponent, we’re going to be excited. Our guys love competing and playing. I don’t think there was any look ahead or anything like that.”

On Caleb Love returning to an old rivalry: “I’m not worried about it. I think Caleb is pretty tough and tough-minded. I mean, obviously, I know it’s gonna probably draw a lot of attention but he’s built for it. I just know this: we can go there and play a good basketball game without Caleb playing out of his mind. That’s one of gifts I’ve tried to give him is, you don’t necessarily need to just blend in here, but you have an opportunity to settle in and let the game come to you. I think you’ll get more and more comfortable with that. Every time he’s put our uniform on against another team, I think he’s played really good, and he’s been a great teammate.”

On if Love can provide insight on Duke: “I’m sure those guys will have those conversations on their own, but I don’t really put a bunch of pressure on him to get up and present the scouting report. We have a lot of guys on our coaching staff, so that’s their job. We will always listen to our guys, if they tell something in a game, or I played against this guy. We always listen to what they have to say.”

On how the home-and-home with Duke came about: “I called Jon (Scheyer) when he got the job and I just thought it would be a great idea for both of us to play a game like this. Scheduling in college basketball is getting harder and harder, for whatever reason, so anytime you get an opportunity to get two programs of an Arizona and Duke stature, to meet on the other’s court, I think it’s pretty cool. I respect Jon as a person and as a coach. I’m thankful that he agreed to do this. He and I, I think, share a mutual respect for each other. We don’t talk every day but we definitely touch base over the course of the season and we see each other on recruiting and things of that nature. I’m honored that they’re that they’re giving us this opportunity.”

On he and Scheyer crossing paths over the years: “He’s so much younger than me. I was on the bench (at Gonzaga) in a game at Madison Square Garden and I think they beat us pretty good. What he stepped into is pretty impressive at a young age. And I think he’s doing an admirable job, and I think he’s gonna have a great coaching career.”

On the difficulty of getting home-and-home series with ranked teams: “A lot more difficult than people realize. It’s really hard, and it’s become a big business. You have coaches protecting their own entity, coaches fighting for their jobs. For me, I love opportunities to play other good teams, but we also have to be mindful of how we schedule. I sit back and think, maybe are schedule is really hard this year. I hope we’re up for the challenge and I hope there’s a positive outcome for us at the end of having such a tough schedule. But you’re also mindful that you’re gonna put your team in harm’s way a few times. You’re worried about your confidence, your winning spirit, you want to make sure you have that going into conference play. So we’re just going to take it day by day.”

On Dylan Anderson redshirting this season: “As of now, unless something changes, and injury or something dictates that. Dylan Anderson is a great young man, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. It was Dylan’s decision. I told him, I said, ‘hey, this could potentially be an option. I want you to consider it. You think about it.’ He and I had a few conversations about it, and TJ (Benson) really helped as well. I just remember, we had a meeting in my office, and he came in and he sat down, and said ‘Coach, I don’t ever want to leave Arizona.’ And I said, ‘Dylan and I don’t ever want you to leave either.’ I think there’s a love for each other and a respect for each other. Sometimes how these rosters break out, it’s tough when you can only play five guys at a time, but Dylan’s ready to play. He’s made progress, but I think adding this year to the end of his career is going to allow him to become a great player in Arizona. I think this guy has all-conference type potential down the road. I’m really proud of him for trusting us and I’m honored that he’s trusting us enough to be patient.”

On the value of sitting out and retaining eligibility: “Redshirting is a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. It really is a good thing, and it’s helped so many guys over the course of their career. We had a little team deal yesterday when we were kind of just talking as a group, and Oumar mentioned that. Oumar said ‘Dylan, I’m so proud of you and what you’re doing. You’re going to be great some day, you just got to hang with it. I’ve been there. I know how tough it is.’ It was pretty special that our that our players acknowledge and realize the sacrifice Dylan’s making for the program. And I’m going to make sure that we do everything on our end to to honor and respect the sacrifice he’s making and make sure he really benefits from it down the road.”

On if that was considered for Conrad Martinez: “Sometimes with international players it’s a little different in how you might handle that. Conrad’s a good basketball player. He’s a really good basketball player. He has helped us so much in practice. I don’t know if people are seeing him out there and really have an understanding and respect for how good of a player he is. He’s a really good basketball player who is going to have a lot of great moments in Arizona. And and I have 100 percent belief, I could put him in a in a tough game, maybe if we’re struggling and need a little spark, and he can come in that game and make that play. He’s fearless. I love having him out there. I just thought, I don’t want to leave this team one player short, one spark short. He’s an unbelievable team person, so he had no problem saying ‘coach, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do whatever I need to do in the program.”

Boswell on the first game: “It went really well. Everybody played really well. Coaches gave us a great game plan.”

On being out there with the other guards: “It was great to play with really good guards. I know everybody can see that, us three work well together. Great connection on the court. Just gotta keep working on chemistry.”

On reducing turnovers: “That was kind of our main focus. We knew Morgan State was one of the best turnover teams in the country, and we turned the ball over a lot in the two exhibitions.”

On if the backcourt is more aggressive than a year ago: “All of us bring different aspects than we had last year, and we’re just using it to our advantage. Everybody brings what they got to the table and plays their best role.”

Johnson on the first game: “We played to our standard of basketball. Of course, there’s a lot of stuff that we go to the drawing board and fix. I’m just happy to be around these guys. Guard play is heavy, this is a deep team all around.”

On being comfortable playing with new teammates: “We’re Arizona basketball, we’re all family. Between the summer and now we’ve been doing a great job of getting our chemistry, on and off the court. That’s just what y’all are seeing right now, it’s still the beginning of the season. It’s only going to get better from here.”

On the team’s depth: “We have strength in numbers. When it comes to March and early April, that’s what you need. You need to have the numbers. Anything could happen, God forbid. Once you got a deep roster, we know we can come out and one of our brothers will step up.”

On Krivas: “A lot of people don’t know how good he actually is. We play with them every day. He’s a big guy, he moves his feet very well. It’s only the surface of what you’ve seen, there’s a lot more that Krivas can do.”

On playing at Duke: “We just got to be ourselves, don’t get caught up in the outside noise. We’re anxious to play any game that’s next up.”