TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — For the first time in 12 years, Arizona men’s basketball has a new head coach.
Tommy Lloyd will look to build Arizona back into a college basketball powerhouse. After two decades as an assistant at Gonzaga and fresh off a National Championship Game appearance, he takes his family and his up-tempo style to Tucson.
Lloyd says this is the only other job he ever wanted to take.
“I was either gonna stay at Gonzaga forever, or if I ever got a chance to come down here and be the head coach, I’d come to Arizona,” he said in an interview with KGUN 9 shortly after being introduced as the new head coach. “I mean, it wasn’t any more complicated than that.”
Lloyd was already tapped to be Gonzaga’s new head coach whenever longtime leader Mark Few moves on. Instead, Lloyd is taking what he learned from his mentors in Spokane to the desert.
“Watching how they operate and through osmosis some of that’s come to me,” Lloyd said. “So that’s why I’m comfortable walking in my own shoes, and I feel prepared for almost anything that comes my way.
“I understand [during the interview process] I’m an assistant coach. I understand I didn’t play here, you know? So there were reasons to look elsewhere. But when the opportunity came to state my case or show I’m worthy of this job, I wrapped my arms around it and gave it everything I had.”
Lloyd played basketball overseas and now brings international recruiting prowess to Tucson.
That international influence has carried over into his coaching.
“I like the way he sees the game, really European way, really international way, so that’s really, really good for all of us international [players],” said Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa, who is from Estonia.
“He love teaching the game,” said Arizona center Christian Koloko, who is from Cameroon. “He’s really detail-oriented, so if he sees something that’s not good, he gonna tell you… Just go work with you and work on the details, the little stuff, to make you a better player. And that’s something I really like about him.”
The program could still face NCAA sanctions, with coaches from the Sean Miller era entangled in illegal recruiting allegations.
Lloyd says he’ll only worry about what he can control.
“I respect the process, and I’m grateful to be here,” he said. “And I understand for me to be here, I couldn’t come here probably under perfect conditions. So for me, it’s part of what I accepted to do. So I have no problem with it and whatever happens, I’m gonna be prepared to deal moving forward.”
And Lloyd is already firing up his new fans. He took the stage at a ‘Bear Down Fridays’ football pep rally in September, energizing the crowd.
“We’re not looking for a total rebuild,” he said. “We’re looking to come out and kick ass this year.”
Lloyd went on to say he feels like this is where he belongs.
“I’m a small town boy, I’m with you guys in my heart every day,” he yelled to the crowd. “I don’t wanna be in no big city. I’m not a phoenix guy, I’m not an L.A. guy, I’m a Tucson guy.”
Soon enough we’ll see how Lloyd’s new energy translates on the court.
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