A deep dive into Tommy Lloyd's bounceback NCAA Tournament

How has 2024 NCAA Tournament Head Coach Tommy Lloyd grown from the 2023 NCAA Tournament Head Coach Tommy Lloyd?

Dayton v Arizona
Dayton v Arizona / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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Flexible coaching

Coaches — like Lloyd's mentor Mark Few from Gonzaga — understand the significance of adaptability. The ability to tweak game plans and tactics on the fly is critical for success in the NCAA Tournament. Lloyd learned this lesson the hard way last year when his Wildcats failed to adjust to the referees' lenient calling against Princeton. Their opponents made continuous adjustments throughout the game, capitalizing on the Wildcats' inability to adapt.

One area where the Wildcats struggled this postseason was their preparation for referees who didn't call many fouls, which had been a key aspect of their game plan in the Pac-12. This lack of preparation showed in their Pac-12 Semifinal game against Oregon, who was coached by the experienced Dana Altman. Altman's veteran coaching and familiarity with tournament play left the Wildcats feeling somewhat lost and unable to gain the upper hand.

Lloyd has been so astute in this year's Tournament that he has even raised concerns to the NCAA about the delay caused by the tournament balls and nets for fast-breaking teams; The nets gotta stay loose!

"We’re built to play lots of different styles. And, generally, if you want to be a team that’s playing in transition, you better be a good defensive team so you’re not taking the ball out of the net — especially these nets, because the ball doesn’t come out of them. Just stays in there. Talk about stopping a fast break. Hopefully they have that fixed by (Saturday).”"

Lloyd Via ESPN

Despite this setback, Lloyd emphasized his team's versatility and the ability to win in different ways. Leveraging this versatility requires coaching with a keen eye and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the team.