Saturday in San Diego: Closed Practice & Media
SAN DIEGO - After an 87-70 win over Wright State on Friday, the Arizona Wildcats returned to Viejas Arena on Saturday for a 90-minute closed practice followed by media availability. Click the videos below to hear what Coach Lloyd, Dalen Terry, Azuolas Tubelis and Justin Kier had to say as they looked ahead to Sunday's game against TCU (6:40pm; TBS).
Coach Tommy Lloyd
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Arizona student-athletes Dalen Terry and Azuolas Tubelis.
Q. Earlier today Sean Miller was announced that he was taking the Xavier job. Your thoughts on your former coach getting a new opportunity?
DALEN TERRY: Man, that's great for him. We're all proud of him. He was proud of us everything we did this year. I've spoken to him numerous times. That's just real good for him. I mean, he had a year off. Now he's back to coaching again. He's going to be smiling, I'm happy to see him happy again.
AZUOLAS TUBELIS: Coach Miller, he taught us a lot of things and Xavier is lucky to have him.
Q. Curious what you guys are most proud of. When you look at what you've accomplished individually or as a team, what are you most proud of when you look at this season?
AZUOLAS TUBELIS: I'm proud of my team, how we're playing together. We share the ball. We're not selfish players, and that's why we have a lot of success this year. And I know we're not done yet. We need to win tomorrow's game. But I'm proud of my team. I love my team. I love being a Wildcat.
DALEN TERRY: Piggybacking off what he said, I love my team. We all are just excited. I think that's one of the biggest reasons why we do what we do on the court. It comes with so much success that we all just love each other and we have good relationships on and off the court.
Q. Dalen, I know you were an Arizona fan from the time you were a little kid. Did you have any moments yesterday, just your first March Madness experience and being in a Wildcats jersey playing on that stage?
DALEN TERRY: Definitely. Before they announced the starting lineup, I felt a little bit of chills. I was like, dang, this is what I've been waiting for all my life. I've been watching March Madness since I was in grade school, since I can remember. So it was just a good feeling to be out there and being part of it, knowing that there's a little kid that was in my spot before watching me now.
Q. What was the atmosphere like yesterday in terms of the fan support? And how did you guys react to that? What do you expect from the environment tomorrow?
DALEN TERRY: It was great. I felt we had a lot of fans yesterday. It was weird at the beginning of the game when nobody was there, kind of -- it was odd. Like there was nobody there. It wasn't like there was the other team's fans. It was like nobody was there. I looked up five seconds later and everybody's there. It was great.
It's great to be, not in Tucson or wherever we're at, and I can go to the crowd, lift my hands up and everybody gets loud. I thank our fans for traveling with us.
Q. You played several tournament teams in the regular season who have great point guards. You did a good job limiting them. Is there any special way you plan to deal with Mike Miles and TCU?
AZUOLAS TUBELIS: We'll do the same thing. We just had a practice. We went through their plays and stuff. And it's our coaches who do the job and we just need to deliver.
Q. How concerned are you about the turnovers that happened in yesterday's game, or is that just a one-time thing do you think?
DALEN TERRY: That's behind us. Turnovers happen. They happen. We were just playing a little out of control sometimes. But obviously we got the dub. It's something we need to worry about for a little bit but we're not going to lose no sleep over it obviously. We've got to clean it up if we want to keep winning these games. It is just what it is. We've got to get better.
Q. Azuolas, so many of you international guys did not grow up in this March Madness frenzy. Do you think you guys have a different calmness about it because you didn't have that hysteria of watching this whole tournament since you were 7 years old? And for Dalen, do you sense that the international guys approach it differently because they didn't have that experience?
AZUOLAS TUBELIS: In Lithuania we don't have that environment. But when I was young I saw a couple of posts when Sabonis played at Gonzaga and they lost in March Madness somewhere. And that's how I knew about it. But I didn't follow it. I didn't know what it is about, but now I just know that you lose and you go home. So I'm going to win every game here.
DALEN TERRY: For the international players, from my point of view, for all of us as a team, obviously it's just a basketball game. When I was a little kid, obviously from the outside looking in it looks crazy. Before the game I had my moment or whatever. But once that ball goes up in the air it's just a basketball game. We've got to do what we've got to do every night, get one dub at a time, see how far we go.
Q. You tried out for Team USA basketball obviously in Fort Worth this summer. What was that experience like and did not making the team kind of drive you this offseason? And just a quick follow-up on Mike Miles and going up against him during that training camp.
DALEN TERRY: I was a little hot about it. But it was a good experience. USA U19, just to be on that list, I was thankful for even being on there.
Mike Miles, he's a good player. I played against him all my life, since high school, before that. And Coach Dixon he was the USA coach too. I'm familiar with them too. I'm not going to look at this any type different.
I seen him this summer. I didn't make the team. It is what it is. It fueled me for this summer and just coming back and seeing Azuolas play against USA and seeing Ben playing against USA, obviously I was rooting for them at the time. It is what it is. I give them both props. They're both real good. They're both a tournament team. Salute.
Q. What is it about Coach Lloyd, he has so many experience coaching international players at Gonzaga, and now he's working -- what do you see from your perspective on what makes him click so well with international players?
AZUOLAS TUBELIS: I think he's a special coach. Like you said, he has an experience with international players. So it was easy for me because he is easy to understand and he understands me. So we just are on the same page every time.
Q. Dalen, with so many international players on your team, I was looking through the media guide, so many languages are spoken. What is it from your perspective, what's it like, having so many players from different countries coming together?
DALEN TERRY: It's a blessing for me to be on this type of team right now, this young. Seeing people talk in different languages, it's funny to me because I only know English.
So Oumar be talking in French and I'll be, like, I don't know what they say. I know a few words, obviously the bad ones (laughter). But it's funny. So even like Zu doesn't speak that much -- what's your language?
AZUOLAS TUBELIS: Lithuanian.
DALEN TERRY: He and his brother speak that sometimes but I didn't even know what the language was. It's just funny to me when they talk in that language because I can't talk in a different language for them not to understand me. It's funny. It's a blessing to be a part of a team like this.
Q. What's the most physical team you've faced this year and what was the biggest challenge when you face a team that's going to try to push you guys around?
AZUOLAS TUBELIS: I don't see a big difference between them because I think we did a really good job receiving physicality from there. So I don't who is the most physical team.
DALEN TERRY: The same way he said. I don't see a team that stood out more than anybody else. There was a few teams obviously they were physical but it was more on us. Like we just didn't bring our physicality that day.
And obviously they bring it for a little bit. We bring it eventually, but I feel like with these physical teams we've just got to do what we do, stick to our fundamentals.
Q. Yesterday, Dalen, seemed like the crowd was hoping they would drop a bucket to kind of change the momentum because everybody loves an underdog obviously in March Madness. Could you sense that on the court? And did that propel you to your run yesterday? And do you expect the same thing to happen tomorrow in terms of the crowd pulling for the underdog?
DALEN TERRY: Obviously I didn't really think that there was a big difference in the crowd. I thought it was a lot of Arizona fans there. I've seen a little bit of green in the crowd. But I was on the court. I really wasn't paying attention to stuff like that.
Only thing I really noticed was when there's red shirts in the stands. It just is what it is. If they want to root for the other team, it is what it is.
Q. Dalen, jerseys with your guys' names on the back are now sold in the UA bookstore. What's it like seeing a jersey with your name on it being sold?
DALEN TERRY: It's a dream come true for, like -- I've been thinking about this ever since I was younger. Just having somebody else wear my jersey, like I say, they bought my jersey. It's like a milestone. And, also, international guys are getting NIL deals too. Now Azuolas can make money off of that, too. So that's great.
Q. Dalen, you alluded earlier about Tommy Lloyd and the ability he's had to communicate with international players, but just from a basketball perspective and a philosophy and an impact perspective that he's had on this team this year, could you comment on what he's done this year?
DALEN TERRY: Tommy knows basketball. Obviously his work shows. He's been in basketball a long time. We just listen to everything he says. Obviously he's not going to steer us in the wrong direction. I mean, he's a great coach. I thank him for everything every day.
Q. Dalen, with the defense they have focussing so much on the guys in the middle, what challenges does that bring to you as a guy who is handling the ball a lot trying to get inside, and does it remind you of any team you've faced this year?
DALEN TERRY: We've played against teams that try to keep us out of the middle, but obviously we'll just stick to our game plan, just do what we do.
Q. Dalen, Tommy's been talking a lot about he wanted you guys to attack coming into this tournament, playing like you're not defending anything. Do you feel a lot of that as a guy who brings that energy is known for doing that and what's that been like this weekend?
DALEN TERRY: Definitely, we definitely have to be in attack mode. It doesn't really matter what team we were in, Tommy was making that a point across the board that we've just got to be in attack mode. This is a tournament game. This is March. Anybody -- it's March. Anything happens. I mean, we've got to be in attack mode. We've just got to come out throwing punches.
Q. How much fun are you having playing the point? Looks like you're enjoying it, and Kier is probably waiting to take it over again, but how much fun are you having?
DALEN TERRY: I mean, it's fun. I played point in high school. But I'm not really having that much fun. It's just basketball. I have fun off the ball, too. I just look at it as an opportunity to presented itself and obviously I want Kier to come back. I want him to be healthy again because I know when he's healthy doing what he does, we're at our best. I'm just hoping he comes back.
COACH LLOYD: I always tell you guys it's great to be playing meaningful games. And obviously this is a meaningful game and we're really excited for the opportunity. And TCU played great last night. And so it's going to be a battle. And hopefully we'll be ready for it.
Q. You've seen every style this year from different teams, physical and otherwise. What do you expect from these guys? They looked pretty impressive defensively?
COACH LLOYD: They're great defensively. Seems like that whole Big 12 is -- and Tennessee have tilted towards that no-middle, try-to-keep-you-on-the-side defense. And they're good at it. And then on top of that they're extremely physical. They're a great rebounding team. That's always been a trademark of Jamie's teams.
Q. TCU, like you said, they're a great rebounding team, great defensively in the front court. What kind of challenge do you think this presents for guys like Christian and Azuolas?
COACH LLOYD: It's obviously a great challenge, but we're good at those things too. We're going to come out, and we're going to battle. I told our guys you've got to be ready for the physical battle and you've got to embrace it. And if you do it you have a really good chance to be successful. If you don't it's going to be a tough night.
Q. I asked a couple of your players what their favorite NCAA moment was. Two of them said the Jalen Suggs shot from last year did they ask you about that what you told them from your perspective?
COACH LLOYD: None of them asked me about that, no. They haven't. But I do always tell them this, if you end up with a buzzer-beater or half-courter, shoot it to make it. And that's what you do. Don't leave it short.
Q. All of us that grew up here in the United States have been a part of this March Madness hysteria since we were young. But a lot of your international players have not. Do you think they're bringing a different calmness to this event because they didn't grow up in that?
COACH LLOYD: Well, I always tell our guys, we've got to -- when things get chaotic -- and they did this year, in a good way. When you start having a successful season you have a great fan base, you're going to get a lot of attention. And things started getting a little chaotic.
We just tried to do a good job having tunnel vision staying locked in at the task at hand. I think our international guys are handling this the same way they've handled everything all year.
Q. With your size advantage, you've been able to wear teams down most of the season, especially when you've had your three bigs in there. But with TCU, is there a team similar to what you faced this year that can match you with that size and physicality?
COACH LLOYD: I'd have to dig deep. Obviously Tennessee was extremely physical and UCLA. They might not have the height but they're extremely physical. And, hey, we're a physical team, too.
And I don't want people to mistake us scoring a lot of points for not being physical. We take great pride in being able to battle physically. And obviously tomorrow presents a great test.
Q. After the game yesterday you voiced a little bit of frustration with the fans not giving enough time to get back into the arena for session two. What kind of environment are you expecting tomorrow? How important is fan support to make a tournament run?
COACH LLOYD: The environment better be great. And you try to have a great regular season, a conference season to set yourself up to get a good seed. If you get a good seed you're close to home. And this is supposed to be a great, advantageous fan base for us.
And yesterday we didn't feel it. Listen, I know we've got a great fan base and I know some will take it personal but they've got to be better tomorrow. They've got to bring it tomorrow, as fans.
I know maybe you don't get your blue-collar fan to as many of these games because they can't afford the tickets. That's one of the things I was disappointed with the NCAA. You have people paying a lot of money for these tickets. And for them to come in 10, 20 minutes late for a game is crazy. They've got to consider the average fan who is paying a lot of money to come to these games.
But our fans have got to be better. And you know what? The fans that are lucky enough to have tickets to this and financially be able to afford it, they need to get out of the seats tomorrow and bring it. They need to help us advance. That's my message to them: Don't sit back and wait; help us.
Q. I know Dalen does a lot more than just scoring, but for him the last two games to have his career high in scoring, what have you seen from him and do you think any of that is him enjoying a big stage?
COACH LLOYD: He's really come a long way as a player this year. He's really developed. With Kerr not having played, maybe we need a little bit more of a scoring punch out of him and he's been opportunistic.
And Dalen is a good, developing shooter. If teams are going to play off him, I'm comfortable with him taking those wide-open 3s. And he steps up and makes them in critical times. They've been a catalyst for us these last couple of games.
Q. Talking with Christian he said this summer you spent time with him, niggling the little things to make him better. What did you concentrate on, and what's been the upside of all that work?
COACH LLOYD: First thing is love him and let him understand how good he can be. But there's going to be a process to it. And then we just start at square one. Honestly, with him, we started at catching the ball, securing it and hitting it off the corner of the square -- I mean, hundreds or thousands of times. And working on his touch on his hook shots.
It's been ongoing development and maintenance since then. But Christian gets a lot of credit because bigs take longer to develop. Everyone knows that. And sometimes they just don't have the patience or the wherewithal to get themselves there. And he built up enough of a foundation the first couple of years, to where if he poured time into it he would be ready for a jump. We tried to take advantage of that.
Q. How well do you know Jamie? I think both of you have been in a dozen NCAA Tournaments each in the past 20 years, but I don't think you've ever faced each other.
COACH LLOYD: No, I've known Jamie well enough through the years. He's friends with all my senior coaches in the coaching tree. And so I've gotten to know him over years. He's a great guy. He always goes out of his way and talks to me and has been nothing but good to me and cordial.
Q. Baylor got knocked off earlier today, a 1 seed. Do you bring it up to your team, like, hey, just because we have a No. 1 by us doesn't mean we can't get beat?
COACH LLOYD: No, our guys know that. They understand. I told them, hey, the first game is tough the second game is tougher. That's how these tournaments are. TCU has our full attention. We understand if we don't do the things we need to do, we might not be successful.
Q. Any update on Kerr Kriisa because I notice he was out for pregame warmups?
COACH LLOYD: He's making progress. He's continuing to make progress day-by-day. And we're going to get there tomorrow and see how he looks. But day to day, it's getting better. And like I told you guys, he's closer to playing than not playing, so we'll see what tomorrow brings.
Q. Is there a point where you have to rein in Dalen? Looks like he's having fun on the court. Off the court he's very personal. Do you have to say relax a little?
COACH LLOYD: I just tell Dalen, take a breath, get your feel on the ground. When he does that it's great. Sometimes he gets a little sped up. And I can see when it's happening. I just talk to him and he takes a breath.
Justin is a little bit the same way. And those guys, I'll give them credit, when I give them those little reminders, they respond and then they play really well.
Q. Wondering, you mentioned Tennessee. I was wondering around the Pac-12 if you had seen anything close to the no-middle. And if it was Tennessee or something similar, that was a game where you guys got in the hole early. And what do you have to do to adjust that situation?
COACH LLOYD: No one's playing as committed to the no-middle stuff in the Pac-12 as these guys are. The first thing you've got to be strong with the ball. And you've got to play with a thrust and play with our normal pace and movement that we do. And then you've got to trust your fundamentals. You've got to lock in, play with your feet on the ground, mix in some back cuts, pass fake. I tell our guys, play good basketball. That's what we've got to do.
Q. In a way, is that maybe a good thing? You're talking about wanting this team to attack. Now they're going into a game where they'll really have to get physical.
COACH LLOYD: Yeah, I mean, it's a great thing. That's what you're going to have to do to keep advancing in this tournament. That's what we've been building for all year. I'm excited to see how it looks tomorrow.
Q. I don't know if you saw this, but Tara VanDerveer yesterday at Stanford issued a call, she challenged every NCAA Tournament coach, men's and women's, to match her in donating $10 for every 3-pointer made in their tournament, so in the entire men's tournament or entire women's tournament, and putting that money toward humanitarian aid in Ukraine. I wondered if you knew that and if you would take her challenge. So far she owes about $3,000 because there's been about 300 3s hit so far in the women's tournament.
COACH LLOYD: I would definitely look into it if I had the information. Obviously there's a lot going on in our world right now. I'm pretty myopic at the moment, unfortunately. Lindsay, how is your dad doing; and two, give me the information and for sure I'll definitely look into it.
Q. He'll be thrilled you asked. And Nick Cronin said yesterday just tell Tara to send me a bill.
COACH LLOYD: Nice.
Q. There are a number of teams in this tournament that are still under the cloud of an unresolved NCAA investigation, including yours. Wondered if that has affected it in any way, if it's bothered you it's taken this long?
COACH LLOYD: When I took this job I knew what I was stepping into. And obviously the administration's been 100 percent transparent. And no one in the program had anything to do with what had transpired before.
For me, I would say this, I want to do a good job for these guys, give them a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament. I was certain for this year we would be fine.
I feel good moving forward that Arizona has been proactive in making sure we're going to be tournament-eligible long term.
So that was my main focus is making sure this year these guys, they're a great group of young men, and they get the opportunity to experience this tournament.
Q. What's your reaction to Sean's reported move back to Xavier?
COACH LLOYD: For one, I didn't know that. Two, I'm not on Twitter much. And three, I'm happy for him. That's a great job. He's a great coach. And obviously it's a place he's comfortable with, has a great history. So I wish him nothing but the best, and I look forward to catching up with him when the dust settles for both of us.