It’s been 193 days since Arizona lost to Princeton in Sacramento. Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd owned it then, and he owned it on Monday the day of Arizona’s official first practice of the 2023-24 season.
Still, it’s a new, fresh start – “the start of our journey,” Lloyd said – to what could be another promising season that might – who knows, right? – end up somewhere deep into March, maybe April.
Again, who knows? But Lloyd owned Arizona’s loss then and now.
“It’s been an awesome long six months for me,” he said, meeting with the local media to talk about a variety of topics, including Friday night’s Red-Blue game. “You experience highs; you experience lows, and the lows sometimes can be your greatest teaching tool. And that’s how I took this offseason.
“I feel like I’ve worked as hard as I’ve ever worked at trying to grow as a coach and helping make impactful changes to our program.”
He said he’s “rolled my sleeves up and put a ton of time” in to make his team/program better.
“And a lot of the experiences are centered around trying to grow as a coach,” he said.
Therapy – or reflection – came in the form of trips, family, friends, other coaches. And likely so much more.
“I’ve done a lot,” he said.
Like conversations with many others.
“And at the end of the day, we own it,” he said. “I think I think the only way you can truly write the next chapter to your stories (is) if you own everything that came before it … and that’s good things and bad things.
“And there’s no excuses.”
Then he had this revelation: “Our culture probably wasn’t strong enough. And our effort wasn’t good enough when we needed it most for whatever reason.”
So, this year – 195 days after that loss – he said he’s “got to increase our margins for error.”
Less missteps and work on more positives just in case those missteps happen.
“That’s been the mission I’ve been on this offseason,” he said.
It helps with more talent and a deeper bench. He said it is the deepest team he’s had here.
Tommy could go 10 deep, if not more. He’s deep in the backcourt and frontcourt. Deep on the bench.
Depth is never a dilemma. The minutes available to play them might be. But, he said he has a solution.
Last year, allowed him to “self-assess” in as much as he may have “sliced the roster a little too thin” and that may have showed itself in the end.
Again, it’s about increasing the margin for error and that’s adding more depth.
“I’m excited. We’ve got great guys that are about the right things … managing a lot of the players is a good thing,” he said. “More importantly, you’re managing great people that are part of a great organization. The players will ultimately get what they deserve, and they are aware of that.”