And now for the second year of Tommy Lloyd and his run-and-stun crew. Could it possibly be as surprising and fun as his rookie year in the main seat as the University of Arizona’s men’s basketball coach?
Maybe? Possibly? It would be hard to duplicate last year’s stunning run to a top seed in the NCAA tournament and a Sweet 16.
What’s in store for his encore? Again, who knows? But the media has Arizona finishing second to UCLA in this year’s Pac-12 Conference race. Arizona is No. 17 in the Associated Press poll as it starts the season off on Monday with Nicholls.
So much promise yet so many questions. Wasn’t that the same feeling last year before Arizona came on the scene and became a college basketball darling from start to finish?
What did Lloyd learn from last year, his first in the main seat?
“I learned that we do too many press conferences in Arizona,” he joked.
But that’s Tommy, seemingly one of the guys who coaches his team well. A guy who is said to be good in his own skin. No worries. Just work and get the job done.
“I’m sure I’ve learned a lot … obviously there were a lot of changes in my life,” he said. “Like I’ve told you guys before, I’m thankful that once it started happening, that I was prepared for it. I’m thankful that I took my time and found the right spot for me. And when that opportunity became available, I was ready for it. I’m thankful for that. I love coaching I love teaching basketball.”
Still, he said he’s more comfortable this year than he was last year but he’s not sure “if we’re going to win more games or not” because of it.
He said he’ll continue to be a “one-day-at-a-time” guy.
“I’m ready to coach full steam ahead,” he said. “I’m sure at this time last year I was feeling the same thing. I’ve always had a lot of belief in myself so I’m not going to sit here and act like I believe in myself more now than I did last year. That’s not the case. But I’m excited.
“I’m always excited about the journey for each individual team, to me, that’s where I find the joy. It’s not always in the end results. It’s taking each team and each individual player on that team through the journey. I can feel that happening.”
There’s definitely a joy out there. You can see it in how the team plays. They care because he cares.
How is it playing for Tommy?
“It’s great, it’s fun,” UA junior Azuolas Tubelis said. “It’s my second year with him. All summer he was working out (with) me and with other players who were here. He cares about the players. He’s a player’s coach. He talks not just about basketball. He talks about life. If you have a bad day, he’ll understand. He’s a fantastic coach.”
Not only the players happy, but so are Tommy’s bosses.
“Success of our men’s basketball program under Tommy’s leadership last season re-established Arizona as a national brand,” said Dave Heeke, Arizona’s athletics director. “We saw the program achieve excellence in all facets; on the court, in the classroom, as well as in our community. Tommy showcased his outstanding coaching skills and took a big step forward fulfilling our shared vision for this marquee program. I couldn’t be more excited to watch another season of high-level success by the entire program under Tommy’s leadership in his second year as our head coach. I know our fans, donors and alumni are equally excited about the future of Arizona basketball.”