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It’s very rare that every question mark surrounding a college basketball team heading into a season is answered with a resounding yes.
But that is exactly what happened as an A plus season for the ages was consummated Saturday evening at T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas.
The flurry of preseason questions surrounding this Arizona Basketball team were all legitimate and many centered around the new coach, Tommy Lloyd.
Far from a household name, Lloyd was known by the serious college basketball fan as Mark Few’s right hand man at Gonzaga and an assistant coach with fantastic international ties.
On the court it figured Lloyd would utilize Mark Few’s style of play.
Out was the defensive oriented and slow down approach of previous Arizona Coach Sean Miller and in was the run and gun Tommy Lloyd style.
It might appear to be a silly question asking whether college basketball players would want to play in a more up tempo style, but the majority of this roster signed up to play for Sean Miller, not Tommy Lloyd.
It took about five minutes into the Red-Blue Game to find out this team bought into and embraced Lloyd’s style.
The questions didn’t stop with Lloyd, however, as there were certainly concerns about this team’s roster construction. Don’t forget, this squad was unranked to start the season.
First and foremost, would any player emerge as a legitimate all conference player?
Well, not one, but three sophomores (Benn Mathurin, Azuolas Tubelis, and Christian Koloko) all quickly hopped into those roles.
The best Sean Miller teams always defended at a very high level but the drop in the program also coincided with a drop in defense. Would this team be able to defend?
This question was answered quickly as Christian Koloko emerged from a part-time player to arguably the best defensive big man in the country and a player capable of stopping offensive threats ranging from Illinois all-American big man Kofi Cockburn to UCLA scoring machine wing, Jaime Jaquez.
Meanwhile, sophomore wing Dalen Terry turned into arguably the best defensive perimeter player in the conference.
Would this team have enough depth? Sean Miller deservedly gets much of the credit for this team’s roster construction, but the depth is all Tommy Lloyd.
Arizona has three bench players who are all more than capable of starting for any team in the country and those players, sophomores Pelle Larsson and Oumar Ballo and 6th year senior Justin Kier were all brought in by Lloyd.
And each has provided a necessary boost at different times this season, none more notable than Kier filling in for the injured Kerr Kriisa during the Pac-12 tournament.
Lastly, could Lloyd recruit domestically? The recent commitments from 5 star point guard Kylan Boswell and 5 star wing KJ Lewis alleviated those concerns.
Who knows how far this team will go now that the NCAA tournament is here, but one thing is certain, every single question or concern about this team preseason has been answered with an emphatic YES.
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