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Arizona first-year coach Tommy Lloyd on pace for historic debut, as the 22-2 Wildcats are No. 1 seed material



A mid-February storyline nobody saw coming months ago: The Arizona Wildcats have a convincing case to claim top-two status among all teams in men’s college basketball.

The AP Top 25 ranking currently says No. 4 for Tommy Lloyd’s team, but that’s going to change when the polls refresh Monday. Computers are even more complimentary for this group. U of A sits at No. 2 (behind Gonzaga) in the NET, at, at and in Strength of Record. That’s No. 2 in predictive and results-based metrics. Not only has Arizona proved it from a résumé perspective, but it’s also winning games it is expected to win — often doing so by a lot.

This team is for real. 


Arizona is beating opponents by more than 20 points on average, which it did again Saturday night. The Wildcats pulled a cruel trick on the road against Washington, allowing the so-so Huskies to build up a little false hope by letting the game get to a 25-11 lead in favor of UW. A few beats later, like big brother snatching a treat from little brother’s hands, Arizona took the lead. By halftime, Arizona was up nine. The Wildcats bloated their lead to as many as 28 points in the second half.

Final: Arizona 92, Washington 68. 

Lloyd’s team is 22-2, and considering No. 1 Auburn and No. 3 Purdue lost in recent days, the Wildcats should take the No. 2 spot in the AP Top 25. Lloyd has been one of the best coaches in college basketball this year, his first year as a head coach. 

Sure, he inherited an enviable roster situation from Sean Miller, who left him multiple NBA picks (including potential 2022 lottery selection Bennedict Mathurin). That said, don’t examine Arizona today and retroactively assume this was destiny. The Wildcats were not ranked in the preseason. Lloyd was a lauded hire but no one knew what to expect right away; after all, he’d never coached a game in his life. Let’s not pretend that any coach in Lloyd’s situation would be thriving nearly as well as he is. After serving as an assistant under Mark Few for 20 seasons, Lloyd’s been sensational in his first season.

And doing it at a place that’s considered a top-10 program to boot. He’s encroaching on an all-time debut season.


Arizona has a maximum of 10 games remaining before the NCAA Tournament: seven in the regular season, three total (if necessary) in the Pac-12 Tournament. Lloyd is headed toward rare company. Few men’s basketball coaches are immediately outstanding. Saturday’s victory made him the winningest first-year coach in Arizona history, surpassing Russ Pennell’s 21 wins in 2008-09. The only coach with a better first-year record at Arizona is the one they named the damn basketball arena after. J.F. McKale started 9-0 in 1914-15, ultimately going 21-0 through his first three seasons. Additionally, Lloyd is only the third Pac-12 coach to win at least 20 of his first 22 games.

KenPom projects U of A to go into postseason play with a 28-3 record. If that were to happen, Lloyd would have a .903 win percentage leading into the Pac-12 Tournament. He currently holds a .917 win percentage. While short of historic, Lloyd’s Arizona launch is tracking to something rare. The NCAA Tournament began conventionally seeding the field in 1979, when the bracket was 40 teams. Since then, there have been 168 No. 1 seeds.

Only two people — Bill Hodges at Indiana State in 1979 and Bill Guthridge at North Carolina in 1998 — earned a top seed in their first season as a head coach. Lloyd has a healthy chance at becoming the third.

If curious, the ones who came close but needed a second season as a head coach to earn a No. 1 seed:

Guthridge was similar to Lloyd in that he spent an era serving as an assistant. That could’ve still been Lloyd now if he wanted it to be, but the 47-year-old who was the coach-in-waiting at Gonzaga decided that, when an elite college job is on the table, you’d be a fool not to take it.


Lloyd will have to seriously outperform preseason expectations in order to match Guthridge or Hodges. At the tender age of 61, Guthridge won the Naismith National Coach of the Year award in 1998 and made the Final Four with his top-seeded Tar Heels. Hodges took over Indiana State with Larry Bird and made the national title game with an undefeated record. 

In terms of overall winning percentage, Lloyd is pacing himself toward the NCAA record book. By win percentage, these are the best single-season debuts for a head coach in men’s basketball history. (Bolded are power-conference programs.)

  • Norman Shepard, North Carolina: 26-0, 1.000 (1924)
  • Bill Hodges, Indiana State: 33-1, .970 (1979)
  • Tom Gola, La Salle: 23-1, .958 (1969)
  • Lou Rossini, Columbia: 21-1 .955 (1951)
  • Steve Prohm, Murray State: 31-2, .939 (2012)
  • Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin: 32-3. .914 (2014)
  • Earl Brown, Dartmouth: 19-2 .905 (1944)
  • Phil Johnson, Weber State: 27-3 .900 (1969)
  • Bill Guthridge, North Carolina: 34-4 .895 (1998) 
  • Gary Cunningham, UCLA: 25-3, .893 (1978)

Additionally, if Lloyd is going to rank among the best in his first season running a program, he’ll need to clear 30 or more wins. Here are the eight ones to do that.

  • Guthridge, North Carolina (34-4)
  • Hodges, Indiana State (33-1)
  • Underwood, Stephen F. Austin (32-3)
  • Prohm, Murray State: (31-2)
  • Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh (31-5, 2004)
  • Brad Stevens, Butler (30-4, 2008)
  • Stan Heath, Kent State (30-6, 2002)
  • John Warren, Oregon (30-13, 1945)

Arizona projects as a comfortable No. 1 seed in CBS’ most recent Bracketology forecast. The Wildcats are 6-2 in Quadrant 1, their only losses coming on the road to ranked teams (Tennessee, UCLA). Arizona fans expect national relevance and great teams. There’s a reason for that. The program has earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament six times and been a No. 4 seed or better 20 times.

It will almost certainly be 21 in a month, when Selection Sunday arrives.

As I was saying: top-two material. No. 1 seed material. Lloyd is national coach of the year material as well. There are a lot of viable candidates out there, including Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, Providence‘s Ed Cooley, Kentucky‘s John Calipari, Wyoming‘s Jeff Linder, Texas Tech‘s Mark Adams and Murray State’s Matt McMahon. Right now, Lloyd’s case is as good as anyone’s.


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The A’s Are Facing Another Stadium Dilemma



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The Oakland Athletics and their ownership have shown their hand by now.

Their intention is to be playing games in Las Vegas by 2028.


To do that, however, they need Nevada lawmakers to approve their funding plan to build a new stadium on the Las Vegas strip.

That still hasn’t happened.

“Late last night, Nevada ended its legislative session without voting on a bill to fund a new Vegas stadium for the A’s. Gov. Joe Lombardo is expected to call for a special session of the Legislature Tuesday morning,” Front Office Sports tweeted.

The clock is ticking, as the A’s need approval by the lawmakers soon if their plan is to be fulfilled.

The team has been looking to move from the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium for years.

As long as there is no agreement to build the stadium in Las Vegas, the move from Oakland won’t take place.

According to Front Office Sports, should the move to Las Vegas fail to pan out, Oakland mayor Sheng Thao has stated that she remains ready to negotiate with the team.

A’s ownership doesn’t feel like the franchise has a future in Oakland because people don’t go to the stadium, but in reality, they haven’t done much to draw them in either.


In any case, there are several cities willing to absorb the responsibility of having an MLB franchise.

In fact, Orlando and Salt Lake City have serious projects in place.

The saga continues, and will keep going on until the A’s find a new home.

The post The A’s Are Facing Another Stadium Dilemma appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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The Yankees Are Celebrating A Special Anniversary Today



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The New York Yankees weren’t at their best in the period ranging from 2010 to 2015.

They always had a positive record but didn’t always seriously contend.


Things started to change on this day, but 10 years ago, when they drafted the player that would graduate into one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball in 2017: Aaron Judge.

The video is absolutely priceless.

For starters, Bud Selig was still the Commissioner, so you know some time has passed!

A baby-faced Judge switched his jacket for a Yankees shirt.


He had just turned 21 at the time.

Judge made his debut in 2016, and things weren’t that promising back then as he had a .608 OPS in 27 games and 95 plate appearances.

A year later, however, he developed into a true star with a 1.049 OPS, 52 home runs, 128 runs, and 114 RBI.

That performance earned him the Rookie of the Year award and a second-place finish in the AL MVP vote.

Since that year, he has performed at an All-Star level for the Yankees, even if injuries somewhat slowed him from 2018 to 2020.


He had a historically relevant performance in 2022, with 62 home runs to establish a new American League record.

He also flirted with the AL Triple Crown last year.

This season, he is already up to 19 homers and 40 RBI with a 1.078 OPS.

However, he already visited the injured list with a hip strain and could do so again with a toe ailment.

Still, it’s fair to say the Yankees have gotten historically great value from that first-round pick in 2013.


They got a legitimate star and, perhaps, a future Hall of Famer.

The post The Yankees Are Celebrating A Special Anniversary Today appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Fans React To Today’s Elly De La Cruz News



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The Cincinnati Reds, to the surprise of many, are actually trying.

They have a 27-33 record, which is not so great but is much, much better than what they did last year.


They are just 5.5 games out of the first place in the NL Central, and they, ladies and gentleman, are going for it.

They recently called up 2021 draftee Matt McLain and he has been thriving.

They also brought up left-hander Andrew Abbott and he excelled in his first MLB start on Monday.

And now, on Tuesday, they gave fans what they were hoping for: they called up shortstop Elly De La Cruz from Triple-A Louisville.

There are some swing-and-miss concerns in his game, but there is also the potential for a five-tool player right out of the gate.


It’s not an exaggeration to say that De La Cruz’s tool are as loud as those of fellow infielder Oneil Cruz.

He is not just one of the best prospects in the game: he is also one of the most exciting arrivals in recent memory.

Fans are hyped.

De La Cruz will probably take over as Cincinnati’s starting shortstop and be the face of their rebuild.

He is just 21 years old but was already having enormous success in Louisville, with an incredible .298/.398/.633 line with 12 homers and 11 stolen bases across 38 games.

He does strike out a lot, perhaps more than your average slugger, but he hits the ball so hard that he could, and should, initially find success anyway.


The Reds are going for it.

The post Fans React To Today’s Elly De La Cruz News appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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