Miller: The Jury is Out on Tommy Lloyd Hire at Arizona

Critical decisions the new head coach makes in coming days will shape the face of the program

Posted on April 15, 2021

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

It’s finally over. Tommy Lloyd is the new head coach in Tucson.

Lloyd

Much can be said about the hiring process: Bridges with alumni were burned, and Lloyd himself may even have thought twice about accepting the job.

There’s an entire contingent of Arizona fans that will never be happy with the hire—the group devoted to Sean Miller, despite the FBI scandal and recent lack of Tournament success.

Former Wildcat star Richard Jefferson called the search a debacle, while Gilbert Arenas said Lloyd was unqualified.

Stoudamire

And Damon Stoudamire must feel like his interview was nothing more than a charade. Something similar could be said of Miles Simon.

Yet, the deed is done. The Tommy Lloyd Era has begun.

Just how much success the longtime Gonzaga assistant has in the desert is yet to be determined, but his first few weeks could indicate his immediate success or failure.

Taking over the reigns at McKale Center with a reputation as a strong international recruiter, the first-time head coach’s initial task will be to keep his roster together.

Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa | KGUN9

Most notably, Estonian Kerr Kriisa entered the transfer portal just an hour or two after the hire was announced. The freshman played in just eight games in Tucson this past season, but was arguably the point guard of the future.

Returning starters Bennedict Mathurin and Azuolas Tubelis may also need some convincing to stick around, even though their roles are defined and guaranteed.

Four-star guard K.J. Simpson has decommitted and appears to be headed to UCLA, but Lloyd may be able to convince him to stay. At the same time, four-star commits Shane Nowell and Shane Dezonie must be retained.

That’s a tall task of orders to tackle over the next handful of days. And that’s without even mentioning the need to build his staff.

Terry

Decisions must be made on Jason Terry and Jack Murphy, two assistants that are instrumental in the current roster’s makeup and incoming class. Murphy is arguably the more important piece, as the primary recruiter for almost every international player currently on the Cats’ roster.

The decisions over the next few days will shape the personnel for next season, and could determine the level of success Lloyd achieves in his first season.

The impending NCAA penalties are out of his hands, and the recruiting challenges those sanctions create remain. But his reputation as a renowned international recruiter should pay dividends in the long run, especially if combined with Murphy’s connections.

Murphy

Assuming Murphy is retained along with most of the roster, the implementation of the new offensive scheme likely becomes the deciding-factor. Gonzaga runs one of the most successful offenses in the country, and the transition of that system to the Wildcats may be a challenge.

The attitude of the players who stay could play an oversized role, and Lloyd’s handling of the bumps along the road could push the team in one direction or another. In that sense, keeping a familiar face or two on the staff could be the key.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, yet the next 72 hours are vital to Arizona’s immediate success in 2021-22.

A series of wrong decisions could ensure the Lloyd Era is a short one. Or the right moves could set the groundwork for a long tenure in Tucson.

The pieces are there, it’s up to Lloyd to put them together.




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