What’s done is done. Now what?
The Tommy Lloyd era is upon Arizona, which is once again at a crossroads, much like when Lute Olson went through his retirement saga in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
Remember Jim Boylen’s name was tossed around as a candidate before a young up-and-coming 40-year-old coach named Sean Miller took over? Miller coached Arizona to the Elite Eight in only his second year.
Ironically, what happened under Miller’s watch might preclude Lloyd from having similar immediate success. The Wildcats could be under NCAA probation for a year or two because of Miller’s alleged lack of keeping an atmosphere of compliance within his program.
This is not unchartered territory. Uncommon is more like it, for the program that Lute built.
For the first time in 49 years, Arizona is turning to an assistant coach to take over its program, only things are much different than when Fred Snowden was hired from Johnny Orr’s staff at Michigan in 1972. Three years after Snowden’s hire, Arizona was in the Elite Eight after electrifying Tucson starting in Year One with the Kiddie Korps.
Arizona started to become a national program under Snowden.
Olson made it a national championship level program.
Don’t be spoiled.
Don’t expect an Elite Eight by Lloyd’s second year.
If Lloyd has developed the same style as mentor Mark Few, than the wait ahead to be one of the nation’s elite again will be worth it.
Not until his 16th season at Gonzaga, in 2014-15, did Few reach the Elite Eight for the first time. Lloyd does not have that luxury at Arizona.
“While there are certainly potential obstacles ahead for our program, I embrace the challenge as we will build on the foundation in place to compete for Pac-12 and national championships,” Lloyd said in a statement released by the university.
If he is not in the Elite Eight by his fifth season at Arizona, the questions will return as fervent as they are now.
Was he the right hire?
If he does get that far by then, Arizona might have to ward off others from hiring him.
Here are the social media reactions Wednesday of Lloyd coming to Arizona, a hire that was apparently a foregone conclusion since Gonzaga lost in the national championship game April 5.
Some are enticed by the idea of an assistant coach at an established program such as Gonzaga bringing some of that mojo to Tucson.
Others are not so enthused because they believe Arizona is beyond hiring an assistant coach, especially one that has been a head-coach-in-waiting for almost 20 years as Few’s right-hand man.
Tommy Lloyd is 46 but looks younger. Arizona fans hope he can bring that vitality to Arizona:
— Arizona Basketball (@APlayersProgram) April 15, 2021
Says a whole lot that Arizona president Robert C. Robbins was along for the ride with athletic director Dave Heeke in Spokane, Wash., to meet with Lloyd (or was it Heeke was along for the ride?).
We’ve got our guy! Head Coach Tommy Lloyd! Headed back to Tucson! Can’t wait to for Wildcat Nation to meet this guy! @APlayersProgram #BearDown @AZATHLETICS @uarizona @UArizonaPres pic.twitter.com/Rn5neHwiFt
— Dave Heeke (@Dave_Heeke) April 15, 2021
Invaluable advice after the hire was long considered to be in Lloyd’s pocket? A better delivery would have been thanking the communication from the coaches, former players and basketball experts (who are these experts?) during the process.
Thank you to @Dave_Heeke for your leadership in this process to find the new head coach of @APlayersProgram, and to the many coaches, former players, and basketball experts who provided us with invaluable advice. Welcome Coach Tommy Lloyd! https://t.co/GmYGM9YenD
— Robert C. Robbins (@UArizonaPres) April 15, 2021
Jeff Goodman in his column: Lloyd, 46, has been an assistant coach under Few for the past two decades and is best-known as arguably the premier international recruiter in college basketball. But that’s selling him short. He’s far more than just a guy who can cross the border and bring back talent.
As an Arizona alum, I kind of wanted it to be kept in the family for Lute and the ex-players.
But I think the Wildcats may have hit a home run with the Tommy Lloyd hire. COLUMN: https://t.co/IGK5m0WPOK
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 14, 2021
Take by a Spokane sports journalist:
Sabonis, Olynyk, Morrison, Hachimura, Karnowski, Pangos, Sacre, Turiaf, Tillie and many more.
There would be no Gonzaga today without Tommy Lloyd. The players he brought in were absolutely instrumental to the success of this program. No brainer hire for Arizona.
— Karthik Venkataraman (@KREMKarthik) April 14, 2021
Kerr Kriisa testing the waters before meeting Lloyd. Things could change.
Arizona’s Kerr Kriisa will put his name in the NCAA transfer portal tomorrow, Kriisa told ESPN. “I’m hoping to hear what my options are, but I’m still open to returning to Arizona depending on how things shake out,” Kriisa said.
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 14, 2021
Adam Morrison hoping Lloyd brings to Arizona some of the culture he helped develop at Gonzaga.
Adam Morrison on Lloyd becoming head coach:
“He more than ready. He’s been ready for a while. Tommy is going to be fine there. And the culture, based on what Gonzaga has had with Tommy and the whole staff, hopefully he can instill that at Arizona and have a successful program.”
— Jim Meehan (@SRJimm) April 15, 2021
Another Gonzaga great, Dan Dickau, mentions the word “instrumental” twice concerning Lloyd — for the development of Few’s program and Dickau’s own career.
T Lloyd has been instrumental in getting GU to the level they are! I can’t be happier for him! He was instrumental in my career especially during redshirt helping me improve and be ready.Terrific evaluator, recruiter and coach not to mention a great friend!Congrats and good luck!
— Dan Dickau (@dandickau21) April 14, 2021
Lest we forget that Lloyd has some compassion in him:
One of the officials just passed out on the court. Scary scene. He hit the floor with a thud. Doctors are being called. Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd immediately ran over to him, looking fearful.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) March 30, 2021
The first person over to Bert Smith when we went down today? Gonzaga’s Tommy Lloyd.
AP/Michael Conroy pic.twitter.com/NeGEWhFp15
— Brenna Greene (@BrennaGreene_) March 31, 2021
Adia Barnes welcomes the new coach with some excitement:
Welcome to the Wildcat Family, coach Lloyd‼️ https://t.co/PGk7atO0cb
— ADIA BARNES COPPA 🐻⬇️🌵👨👨👧👦❤️💙 (@AdiaBarnes) April 15, 2021
Gonzaga’s sendoff message:
Great coach and even better person.
— Gonzaga Basketball (@ZagMBB) April 15, 2021
If you’re an Arizona fan/follower and you don’t know what the “Kiddie Korps” is, you have to brush up on your history.
The previous time an assistant coach was hired at Arizona: 1972, Fred "The Fox" Snowden (AP photo, June 1972). Recruiting the Kiddie Korps. pic.twitter.com/iJV3ZYHiUg
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) April 15, 2021
One longtime assistant of almost 20 years welcomes another longtime assistant of 20 years:
Welcome to our family!! There is no better place to be than Tucson! https://t.co/fhctmHibgy
— Jedd Fisch (@CoachJeddFisch) April 15, 2021
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.