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NCAA Tournament: What Tommy Lloyd, Cedric Henderson Jr. and Pelle Larsson said after learning Arizona’s seed, opponent

arizona-wildcats-ncaa-tournament-reaction-princeton-tommy-lloyd-cedric-henderson-pelle-larsson Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona knows who it is playing, where that game will be played and in what region it’s been placed. That’s the easy part.

Being prepared to go on a deep run in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, that’s where the real work is. And coach Tommy Lloyd isn’t ready to look at the entire 68-team bracket, just first-round opponent Princeton and maybe the potential second-round opponents in Sacramento, Calif.

“I don’t put too much stock in style of play or hey, this bracket looks like this, because you guys know how these tournaments go,” Lloyd said Sunday at the UA’s selection show watch party at Union Public House. “The bracket can look like one thing on Thursday, by Saturday it looks like something totally different. We’re just gonna try to do our best to get through Thursday and then we’ll figure out Saturday after that. I’m always confident that we could prepare to win game to game.”

Here’s what Lloyd, Cedric Henderson Jr. and Pelle Larsson had to say about the UA’s NCAA tourney selection:

Lloyd on if he’s had a chance to scout Princeton in the 15 minutes since learning of Arizona’s opponent (yes, this was a real question): “Not at all. We’ll dig into that tonight. We’re used to this. We’re used to these quick turnarounds, and having been in the tournament quite a few times, you get to work tonight and then you got to start putting your game plan tomorrow, and it happens real fast. You usually travel on Tuesday.”

On Princeton’s tempo: “I know their reputation is the Princeton offense, and maybe they’re running it. I’m gonna be honest with you, I haven’t seen them play this year, so I don’t want to make any assumptions. The quick numbers I looked at, their tempo wasn’t like ... we played a lot slower teams, that play a lot slower than these guys. We’ll figure it out. I look forward to digging into it.”

On getting put in the South Region instead of the West: “There’s only so many spots and someone’s always gonna get bumped. You earn a 2 seed but you’re kind of jammed up with some other teams right in your way and you might be seeded a little higher than one team but it makes more sense to ship you out. It’s just how it happens. It’s a process that’s beyond me, and I have no complaints about it. For this group of guys to earn a 2 seed says a lot about them and what they did this season, and we look forward to get on the court Thursday and proving that we belong.”

On UCLA getting the West No. 2 despite Arizona beating the Bruins twice: “I’m not living in that world. UCLA won the regular season my four games. I think that carries some weight. I’m happy we beat them last night, but they won the regular season by four games, so I think they got rewarded for that, which is rightfully so.”

On being more familiar with the quick turnaround from Pac-12 final to NCAA tourney selection: “I think it’s important. I mean, I know it’s important for me just to get the rhythm of ... I was used to at Gonzaga all those years, the championship game was on Tuesday. And so you basically had like five days before you found out where you’re playing. And here, obviously, it was 18 hours ago or 16 hours or whatever it was, or less than that, that we finished up on the court and we got back home really late. I think that I’m a little more comfortable with the rhythm of that in getting your team prepared. But that’s the rhythm you we have in the Pac-12 all seasons. You play Saturday night, usually, and then your next game is Thursday. So I think it keeps us on the same schedule that we’ve been on for the last couple months.”

On if there’s an advantage to having a roster full of players with NCAA tourney experience: “Always. I think anytime you have familiarity with something you’re you’re gonna be more comfortable the second time around. I think even going to the Pac-12 tournament this year, I think we were a little more comfortable of what that entailed. I think this group is ready to go, and I’m sure they’ll be excited to practice tomorrow and start putting in the game plan.”

On the tradition of the Princeton offense: “The Princeton offense is a staple in college basketball. I mean, there’s lots of teams that are doing variations of it. Like I said, I don’t know if Princeton’s running the Princeton offense. My eyes are gonna tell me that, I’m not just gonna assume something Jason Scheer found on Twitter, that that would be their offense.”

On if he can reach out to other coaches he knows for some tips: “There’s 363 Division 1 teams. We don’t have enough time to sit around and split hairs on who’s running what. What you do is, you find out who you’re playing, get the film, you start watching it, and then you start building a scouting report from there. Whether they’re running the Princeton offense, and I’m sure it’s evolved from Pete Carril, and I’m sure Coach (Mitch) Henderson has his own version of everything. We’re just gonna scout the team that we’re playing and we’re gonna make no assumptions.”

On keeping Oumar Ballo and Azuolas Tubelis in the game together against UCLA when it had to go small: “They’re two first-team all-conference players, and I don’t want another team’s subbing to impact what we’re gonna do. You go small, we stay big, I mean there’s a give and take, right. That group, I felt like, was playing pretty well. They had some guys that I felt like, even though they were small, we still had some matchups I was comfortable with defensively, and so we just kind of rode it out.”

On Tubelis’ play of late and if it will prevent another poor NCAA tourney showing: “I know last year he had some bad games. I can’t remember how he played in the Pac-12 Tournament. I know he’s playing well right now. I know he’s had a great year, and I know he’s a really good player. And the look he has in his eye right now, I would assume that he’s going to stay focused and keep playing at a high level.”

On if this team is better prepared for March Madness than a year ago: “Here’s the deal: We could all sit here and speculate last year’s team, this year’s team, the team three years from now, it doesn’t matter. What matters is, the team you have right now, the team you’re gonna play right now. Pete Carril’s offense doesn’t matter. But Princeton 2022-23 matters. I don’t spend any time thinking about differences and comparing stuff, that doesn’t matter to me. I’m just gonna lock in and try to do the best job we can getting ready to win Thursday.”

On playing through injuries: “I think everybody’s probably banged up this time of year. We have an amazing training staff, and I didn’t acknowledge them yesterday, I just (had) a lot of things going on at the end of that game, but our training staff has done an amazing job. Justin Kokoskie, Chris Rounds with strength and conditioning and our team of doctors have done an amazing job getting these guys ready to play and helping them play at a high level. So we’re just gonna continue attacking like that. We have a first class training staff, medical staff at Arizona, it’s really world class stuff. So we’re just gonna keep riding that out. I’m sure everybody has nagging injuries. I mean, it’s just that time of year. We have a tough, resilient group. And I’m sure most other teams in the tournament are in the same boat as we’re in. I think our guys love each other and love playing for each other, and if they had to endure a little bit of pain to do that, I think they’re willing to do that.”

On Ballo playing with a broken hand: “I told Oumar, if you got something to give us, if you feel like he can help us out, help us out. If not, I mean, that’s fine, too. I mean, I understand how it goes. But Oumar’s a warrior, he’s a high-character guy, he’s tough. He always puts the team first, so he looks good to go.”

On sticking with a 7-man rotation for the NCAA tourney: “I’m sure if you guys took a little bit of time and look at minutes and rosters across the country, I bet there’s a lot of teams playing a tighter rotation than you think. It’s not just us, it’s just kind of how college basketball is these days.”

On having a watch party open to the public: “The community is a huge part of what we do, and so we wanted to find a way to share this experience with the community. We’re always looking to get involved with Tucson any way we can, and so we’re thankful that Union offered this opportunity up for us.”

On which is harder to get into, Princeton or Lloyd’s alma mater Whitman College: “Definitely Princeton, because I got into Whitman.”

Henderson on playing in the NCAA tourney: “It’s big, this means a lot to me. This is my first time going to the big dance.”

On Princeton: “I’m not familiar with them, per se, but I’m sure we’ve met a team that’s similar to them.”

On beating UCLA for the Pac-12 title: “It’s a great win, but it does nothing. It happened, we won it, now it’s time to turn our attention to another team.”

Larsson on being better prepared for the NCAA tourney: “I got some experience now, and just maturity and patience that the tournament requires. We got that now.”

On if he’d have liked to be in the West Region: “I don’t really care. I’m not from here so I don’t care where I play.”

On what he was thinking on Arizona’s game-winning possession vs. UCLA: “Get the damn ball, pretty much. I knew there was going to be two possessions because of the shot clock, so I just tried to make a play on the rebound. Zu got a great shot, it was in and out, I actually thought it was going in. And Oumar tipped it (first), so that was huge for him.”