How better to start a season than with big numbers, lots of input from a variety of players and no casualties?
Well, even better when the coach got exactly what he wanted: “effort and energy” as Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said.
Arizona proved to be too much for visiting Morgan State in the Wildcats’ 122-59 win.
“I thought for the most part we hit that standard and that’s something we really want to establish,” Lloyd said, referring to energy and effort. “But, as our guys know, it’s just the first chapter in a long book. You don’t get awards for how you play your first game. We have a mature group that understands that. I think we’re looking forward to the next game to see what we can do.”
That would be Chapter 2 – a big, heavy chapter – when Arizona faces Duke on Friday. But more on Chapter 2 later in the week as the big game gets closer.
Monday’s chapter one had a nice beginning, middle and end, so much so Arizona flirted with getting its biggest margin of victory in a game in school history, but the 63 points were one shy of that. It scored 122 points, five fewer when it scored 127 against Arizona State in 1998.
All but two players who were suited scored, with Kylan Boswell leading the charge with 18 points. Pelle Larsson, who had been out with an ankle injury, looked to be in mid-season form with 15 points. Seven players scored in double figures, including all the starters. Larsson was one of them.
“Pelle is a great player and his experience in our system is so valuable,” Lloyd said. “He plays so hard and smart. I just like to have him out there, the more and more we get him out there with those other guys in this crucial early part of the season … we’re going to get (him) real reps. And when you get real reps, you can really dig in and learn things … I love having him out there because it makes our team whole.”
And a pretty good one. What wasn’t to love on Monday night? In reality, Morgan State never really had a chance. It never had the lead and by halftime was down 61-26.
Arizona never let up after that. But it was too tall, too fast, too talented for MSU. Lloyd said he wanted to establish “a standard for a lot of guys who’ve never worn that Arizona uniform and in a real game. So, we really wanted to hammer home what our standards are.”
And Arizona did. Lloyd said they “checked the boxes” all the while looking for “effort … intelligence and … unselfishness. And for the most part, I think we had a lot of plays that exemplified that.”
He said he was proud of the guys because “the message was heard” after UA’s exhibition game where it won by 27.
“I was proud of the guys for learning that lesson,” Lloyd said.
Now, the question? Lloyd was able to play 14 players for at least three minutes. That luxury won’t happen on Friday.
Not against Duke. Not against many on Arizona’s tough regular-season schedule. Does he have an idea how his lineup with go come Friday?
“We will do what we feel gives us the best chance to win that game,” Lloyd said. “I wouldn’t use it as an indicator (what was used Monday) for final decisions being made. We have six starters and I’m comfortable. You can probably give me four combinations and I’d be like, yeah, I’m good with that.
“We kind of settled in on one tonight and then we’ll see what we do moving forward. You know, some of those other guys off the bench are earning their opportunities and learning the way in our program. They are really good players. I don’t want to sell him short.”