Tommy Lloyd loves to solve problems. And when you love what you do, what looks like work to others is simply enjoyable to you.
To Arizona’s new head basketball coach, the cool thing about the game is that there’s so many different ways to do it. “That’s fascinating. There’s not one set formula, and I love waking up every day, trying to solve those problems,” he says. “In the game of basketball, it’s a game of mistakes, it’s a game of adapting, and it’s a game of momentum.”
Lloyd arrived at his Zoom interview with a quick step and wearing a navy Arizona coach’s polo. Arizona basketball memorabilia surrounds his desk. His energetic style is matched by a lifetime of living and breathing basketball, a combination so far proving successful at Arizona. After early wins, his squad upset fourth-ranked Michigan in November 2021 and rose in national rankings in December, entering the AP Top 25 poll at No. 11. Their play has been described as fast-paced with a lot of hustle.
Lloyd’s basketball career spans decades, honed by a work ethic he says he learned from his parents. “My parents had my brother and me when they were both young and were incredibly hard workers. They modeled that every day and carved out a really successful life.”
Lloyd followed his high school coach, Jeff Reinland, to play college ball at Walla Walla Community College in Washington. There, Reinland continued to shape the young Lloyd’s basketball future. “I was fortunate to play for him in high school, when [Reinland] was in his 20s and was a way better player than us high school players. So, we played with him all the time. He was really competitive and had a great attention to detail. His passion for the game really rubbed off on me.”
Lloyd finished his college career across town at Whitman College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a secondary teaching credential. He played professionally in Brisbane, Australia, in 1997 and in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1999.
He comes to Arizona after 22 years as an assistant coach at Gonzaga under head coach Mark Few. The Zags reached the NCAA Tournament each year in that span and had one of the most potent offenses in the nation, joining North Carolina and Duke as the only three schools in the country to average more than 80 points per game.
“I've poured a significant part of my life into the game, and I feel like I’m learning every day,” he says. “I can tell you one thing: I'm going to give you everything I got. And that’s how I approach it on a day-to-day basis.”