I’ve seen this team a time or two before. And definitely shades of it through the years under Lute Olson.
First, it’s a team that enjoys playing with one another and it’s created a fun frenzy that has been infectious. It’s beyond selfless – which is always good.
And not that I want to compare them to these two teams – 1995-96 and 2001-2002 – it’s hard not to.
The 2021-22 version is that all over again. Back then, few (pollsters) thought much of the roster and two weeks into the season they were ranked.
And here we are with Arizona beating up No. 4 Michigan 80-62 to win the Roman Main Event in Las Vegas.
The Tin Men have turned into the Win Men. But, Oz (Tommy Lloyd) never did give nothing to the Tin Men that (they) didn’t, didn’t already have (confidence, to borrow a line).
So, here they are at 5-0 and looking like a team that will be difficult to beat because they share the ball (23 assists) and they work well together.
Again, that’s 1995-96 when Reggie Geary, Joseph Blair, Ray Owes, Corey Williams and Joe McClean roamed the court.
Same was the case in 2001 when Arizona won the Coaches for Cancer event with Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, Ricky Anderson and the rest. Unranked then in the top 10 in the first week.
Fast forward – and we do mean faaast – to today and Arizona is living that life all over again with Azuolas Tubelis, Ben Mathurin, Kerr Kriisa, Dalen Terry and Christian Koloko.
Five players scored in double figures. Mathurin had 16 points for his third consecutive good game.
When Brian Jefferies asked about Michigan not being able to handle Arizona’s guys, Lloyd went into his love for his players.
“We’ve got good players,” he said. “We’ve got good players. I know we’ve been out of the limelight and maybe that’s my fault because I haven’t been looking for it but you know what? We are here now. We belong and there’s no doubt about it.”
It’s proven that the last couple of games as UA got by Wichita State in overtime (games will be a struggle) and then made easy work of No. 4 Michigan by outhustling and outdoing the Wolverines in every aspect.
Koloko has proven to be an unbelievable force inside, being intimidating near the basket and tough to guard near it. He was named the Main Event’s MVP. He outplayed Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson to finish with 22 points and seven rebounds. He added four blocked shots.
“That was awesome, but you know what? I’ve got high standards for that guy,” Lloyd said. “That’s what we’re going to get out of him every single day. He’s a special player and a special player and deserves everything coming his way.”
“I love my guys,” he said. “People thought I was giving coach speak but I don’t do that.”