Arizona Wildcats Men’s Hoops History Update

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Posted on April 13, 2024




  By SuperWest Sports Staff

In this series of updates on the history of each SuperWest men’s hoops program, we provide a brief coaching summary, list of the current coaches, along with postseason results, regular-season conference titles, award winners, and all-time coaching records.

Arizona began playing men’s basketball in 1904–05 with Orin Albert Kates coaching against opponents from local YMCAs.

Arizona football Pac-12Since then, the Wildcats have reached the Final Four on four occasions (1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001), and have made two appearances in the National Championship, winning it all against the Kentucky Wildcats in 1997.

The father of modern-day Arizona basketball was James “Pop” McKale, who was hired in 1914 and coached for seven years, compiling a record of 49-12, while going undefeated in 1914-15, 1915-16, and 1920-21.

McKale, the namesake of UA’s home arena, also served as the school’s Athletic Director and coached football, track & field, and baseball. The famous phrase “Bear Down” derives from an athlete he coached.

Fred Enke took the reins in 1925, coaching the Wildcats for 26 years. Under his guidance, Arizona won nine conference titles and made a trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a record of 509-324.

The program rose to national prominence under Lute Olson, who was hired away from Iowa in 1983.

Former Arizona coach Lute Olson | Kirby Lee/Getty Images

In just his second year, Olson led the Wildcats to their first winning season in six years, making the first of 23-straight NCAA Tournaments.

Olson’s teams won 11 conference titles, earning him Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors seven times, while also making four Final Four appearances and winning the 1997 NCAA Championship by defeating three No. 1 seeds.

He retired in 2007 as the winningest coach in Arizona history with an overall record of 589-187.

Following two unsuccessful short-term coaches, Sean Miller was hired in 2009. He guided the Wildcats to their first undefeated home season in 14 years, winning Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors in 2010-11.

Former Arizona coach Sean Miller | Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the course of his 12-year tenure, Miller won five conference championships, leading Arizona to seven NCAA Tournament Appearances and three Elite Eights.

Miller was fired in 2021 after he and an assistant come under investigation in relation to the 2017 NCAA basketball corruption scandal.

Arizona hired former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd in 2021, giving him a five-year contract worth $15.5 million. The results were as immediate as they were remarkable.

In his first season, Lloyd led the Wildcats to a 33-4 overall record, going undefeated at home, and earning them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the Sweet 16.

Lloyd’s numerous 2021-22 honors included being named Coach of the Year by the Pac-12, AP, NABC, and USBWA.

The 2022-23 season was another successful one for the Wildcats, including a 28-7 overall record and a Pac-12 Tournament Championship.

However, Lloyd’s second season ended on a sour note with an early First-Round exit from the NCAA Tournament, as Arizona became the first program to lose twice as a 2-seed to a 15-seed.

The Wildcats rose to the top of the Conference again in Lloyd’s third season, going 27-9 in 2023-24, and winning the regular-season championship.

A loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinal game took off some of the luster, however.

Arizona entered the NCAA Tournament as a 2-seed, ranked No. 9 in the AP Top 25 with high expectations of making a deep run, but it ended in the Sweet 16 with a loss to Clemson.

University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)

McKale Memorial Center


Current Coaching Staff

Current Head Coach: Tommy Lloyd (2021-present)
Associate Head Coach: Jack Murphy (2019-present)
Assistant: Steve Robinson (2021-present)
Assistant: Riccardo Fois (2021-present)
Special Assistant/Recruiting: TJ Benson (2021-present)
Director of Player Relations: Jason Gardner (2021-present)
Scouting: Ken Nakagawa (2021-present)
Director of Player Development: Rem Bakamus (2021-present)

National Championships: 1 (1997)

Final Four Appearances: 4 (1988, 1994, 1997, 2001)

Elite Eight Appearances: 11 (1976, 1988, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2014, 2015)
Sweet Sixteen Appearances: 20 (1976, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2022, 2024)

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 36 (1951, 1976, 1977, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022, 2023, 2024)*

NCAA Tournament Overall Record: 60-37*

NIT Championships: 0

NIT Appearances: 4 (1946, 1950, 1951, 2012)

NIT Overall Record: 0-4


Conference Titles (BIAA, WAC, Pac-12)

Pac-12 Regular Season Championships: 18 (1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2022, 2024)

Pac-12 Tournament Championships: 9 (1988, 1989, 1990, 2002, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2022, 2023)

WAC Regular Season Championships: 1 (1976)

Border Regular Season Championships: 10 (1932, 1936, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1953)

Naismith Player of the Year: 0

John R. Wooden Award: 1 (Sean Elliott, 1989)

Oscar Robertson Trophy: 0

AP Player of the Year: 1 (Sean Elliott, 1989)

NABC Player of the Year: 1 (Sean Elliott, 1989)

AP All-Americans: 20 (Azuolas Tubelis, 2023; Bennedict Mathurin, 2022; Deandre Ayton, 2018; Lauri Markkanen, 2017; Nick Johnson, 2014; Derrick Williams, 2011; Salim Stoudamire, 2005; Jason Gardner, 2003 & 2002; Michael Wright, 2001; Jason Terry, 1999; Miles Simon, 1998; Mike Bibby, 1998; Michael Dickerson, 1998; Damon Stoudamire, 1995; Khalid Reeves, 1994; Chris Mills, 1993; Sean Elliott, 1989 & 1988; Steve Kerr, 1988)

Pac-12 Player of the Year: 11 (Caleb Love, 2024; Bennedict Mathurin, 2022; Deandre Ayton, 2018; Nick Johnson, 2014; Derrick Williams, 2011; Jason Terry, 1999; Mike Bibby, 1998; Damon Stoudamire, 1995; Chris Mill, 1993; Sean Elliott, 1989 & 1988)


Arizona Head Coaching Records

Coach Tenure Record Conf
Titles
NCAA
Trips
NCAA
Titles
Tommy Lloyd 2021-Present 88-20 2 3 0
Sean Miller 2009-2021 302-109 5 7 0
Russ Pennell 2008-2009 21-14 0 1 0
Kevin O’Neill** 2007-2008 0-14 0 0 0
Lute Olson 1983-2007 589-187 11 23 1
Jim Rosborough (int) 2001 3-2 0 0 0
Ben Lindsey 1982-1983 4-24 0 0 0
Fred Snowden 1972-1982 167-108 1 2 0
Bruce Larson 1961-1972 136-148 0 0 0
Fred Enke 1925-1961 509-324 9 1 0
Walter Davis 1924-1925 7-4 0 0
Basil Stanley 1922-1924 31-6 0 0
James Pierce 1921-1922 10-2
Pop McKale 1914-1921 49-12
Raymond Quigley 1912-1914 10-4
Frank Kleeberger 1911-1912 2-2
George Spaulding 1910-1911 3-0
Orin Kates 1904-1905 1-0


—More from Staff—

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