The Arizona Wildcats have two men’s basketball teams

Careful observers of the Arizona Wildcats basketball team may have seen this before, but I think it’s worth pointing out: Tommy Lloyd coaches two men’s teams.

Arizona Wildcats: A scoring machine

The first team is well known to rabid fans, it is the starting XI that is most often selected to open games: Christian Koloko, Azuolas Tubelis, Benn Mathurin, Dalen Terry and Kerr Krisa.

These five are a relentless offensive juggernaut for leather (are basketballs still leather?) who can rack up fifteen points on an opponent before the fans in the stands have even had a chance to participate in their first nacho.

But Lloyd has another team in his Cats coaching repertoire. We see it when he feels the need to stop an opponent’s score. Justin Kier replaces Krisa, Pelle Larsson replaces Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo replaces Koloko at the low post.

Arizona Wildcats: Close the door

Replacing these players has a double benefit for the Cats. First, it gives all three starters a break from their pell-mell sprints towards the opponent’s basket, and second, Kier and Larsson increase the team’s overall speed needed to dull the opponent’s attack, while Ballo sets up a really impressive defensive wall under our basket.

Realize here, I’m not disparaging the defensive skills of Koloko, Tubelis and Krisa, as all of them have proven themselves worthy of their starter status. But by inserting three sets of fresh legs, Lloyd can immediately increase the intensity of the cat’s defense.

But wait, we’re not done

Lloyd has another wrinkle in his bag of tricks that he calls on occasion and it can be a truly terrifying prospect for anyone trying to beat the Cats. This is when he plays both Ballo and Koloko at the same time. This allows Ballo to keep the guard low while Koloko harasses the high post ball handler.

The leader of an opponent faced with the daunting prospect of trying to initiate an attack via Koloko can be forgiven if they struggle to know how to proceed. Koloko’s improved footwork and a wingspan that seems to encompass half the width of the court is truly something to behold, just ask Oregon’s Will Richardson.

Despite being a freshman head coach, Lloyd seems to know exactly what he needs from his proteges to get the most out of their efforts. These Wildcat basketball teams are really fun to watch.

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