INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – Arizona first-year head coach Tommy Lloyd led the Wildcats to the Pac-12 Conference championship and a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. For his smashing debut guiding Arizona to 33 wins and into the Sweet 16, Lloyd has been named the winner of the 2021-22 Henry Iba Award, given annually by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association to its national coach of the year.
Lloyd, who will formally receive the award at the upcoming USBWA College Basketball Awards Banquet in St. Louis on April 11 hosted by the Missouri Athletic Club, is the first Arizona coach to earn the honor and the first from the Pac-12 since Tony Bennett at Washington State in 2007. He's only the fifth Pac-12 coach to earn the Henry Iba Award, joining UCLA legend John Wooden (a six-time winner in 1964, '67, '70, '71, '72, '73), Pete Newell (California, 1960) and Ralph Miller (Oregon State, 1981).
Arizona (33-4) ascended to several success marks during Lloyd's first season in Tucson. The Wildcats finished the season 17-0 at home, the 13th time they have finished a season undefeated in the 49-year history of the McKale Center. Arizona's 19-game home win streak is the longest active streak in the Pac-12 and the third-longest in Division I heading into next season. The 'Cats won nine road games for the first time since 2016-17 and were 7-0 in neutral site games.
Lloyd is the ninth first-time head coach in NCAA history to win 30 games in year one and joined UCLA's Gary Cunningham (1977-78) as the only first-time head coaches in the Pac-12 to win 25 of their first 27 games. Lloyd is alone as the only Pac-12 coach to start 15-1 or better in conference play. Arizona's 18-2 Pac-12 record that won the conference by a three-game margin over runner-up UCLA is also the best-ever for a first-year coach in conference.
Lloyd, 46, joins Bill Guthridge (North Carolina in 1998) and Bill Hodges (Indiana State in 1979) as the only head coaches to earn a No. 1 seed in their first season as head coach. The 33 wins – Arizona fell to Houston in last weekend's Sweet 16 – are tied for third-most in program history and left Lloyd one shy of tying Guthridge for the most by a first-time head coach in NCAA history.
The style of play Lloyd brought to Arizona also produced record marks in various statistical categories. UA led the nation in total assists (714), assists per game (19.8) and total rebounds (1,496). The 'Cats scored 80 or more points 28 times and were undefeated in those games. School records for assists (714) and blocked shots (207) fell. In its final win against TCU in the NCAA's second round, Arizona scored 52 points in the paint, the 25th game this year for it to score 40-plus paint points – the most by any Pac-12 team in the last 15 seasons.
Arizona produced a second-team USBWA All-America selection in sophomore guard Bennedict Mathurin, also the Pac-12 Player of the Year. The conference's John R. Wooden Coach of the Year, Lloyd also coached the Pac-12's Defensive Player of the Year (center Christian Koloko), Most Improved Player of the Year (Koloko) and Sixth Man of the Year (Pelle Larsson). Koloko, Mathurin and forward Azuolas Tubelis earned First-Team All-Pac-12 honors and Kokolo and guard Dalen Terry were on the All-Defensive Team.
Also of note is in his first semester as head coach last fall, Arizona's men's team posted a team GPA of 3.04, the best team GPA for a semester in the history of the program with 11 players having a 3.0 or better.
Lloyd was an assistant coach at Gonzaga for 20 seasons before coming to Arizona. At Gonzaga he helped to develop 19 All-Americans and 15 conference players of the year and contributed to five straight 30-win seasons and two appearances in the national championship game.
The Henry Iba Award is named in honor of the legendary coaching great at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) who won two NCAA championships and two gold medals and one silver as coach of the U S. Olympic teams. Iba held the dual position of basketball coach and athletic director until he retired in 1970. He was elected to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the Missouri Hall of Fame, the Helms Foundation All-Time Hall of Fame for basketball, and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Springfield, Mass. Henry Iba passed away in 1993 in Stillwater, Okla.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected an All-America team since the 1956-57 season. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485. For additional info about covering the awards banquet, contact Jim Wilson with the MAC (314-539-4488).