University of Washington men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar thought he’d made it through his weekly news conference without the question being asked.
But after 20 minutes, someone finally asked about Thursday’s game at the University of Colorado and its mile-high elevation.
“Shhhh,” he said, putting his index finger to his lips and drawing laughs. “So I guess it’s out of the bag now. I was trying not to say anything about the altitude to our guys at all.”
Romar recalled a not-so-enjoyable trip to play the University of Wyoming in Laramie in 2004.
“We were already struggling that year,” he said. “And you’re at the arena and you are walking up a tunnel and you are walking up and you are walking up and finally when you get to the top where the locker room is, they have this sign that reads, ‘Welcome to Laramie, Wyoming, elevation seven thousand, two hundred and something. How’s your oxygen?’”
Officially, it says 7,220 feet on that sign.
Romar could only shake his head at what happened next.
“Our guys were walking up and everything was fine,” Romar said. “Then they read it. And a couple of them went (Romar simulates breathing heavily), ‘Man, coach, I’m out of breath.’ Nothing was said until they read that sign.”
It got no better once the game started for Romar and the Huskies.
“We got down 29-4,” Romar said. “We were exhausted and running in slow motion.”
No wonder he didn’t want to ask his team about the elevation.
“Well, that was 7,000 feet, this is nothing, this is only 5,000,” he deadpanned.
In all seriousness, Romar did seem concerned about the effects of the higher altitude.
He recalled playing in Denver during his NBA days and feeling the effects.
“I was getting on the team bus and I forgot my jacket in the room and I went back and got back on the bus,” Romar said. “And I’m thinking, ‘Man, it was only like 50 yards, why am so I tired?’ I hadn’t even thought about it. And then (snapping his fingers), ‘Oh the altitude, I guess it is real.’”
It’s real enough for him to look around for ways to combat it.
“I actually have spoken to people about it,” he said. “It got way too complicated. If you are there within 24 hours, it doesn’t affect you as much. Beyond 24 hours, you need to be there for 72 hours. So let’s just go play.”
The Huskies have enough depth to comfortably play 10 players so you many see Romar doing some extra substituting against the Buffaloes.
“It really affects you in the beginning of the game,” he said. “As it goes on, you are all right.”
There are rumors that standout freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins might join the basketball team.
Romar wasn’t sure what Seferian-Jenkins was planning to do.
“I haven’t heard from him,” Romar said. “I don’t know.”
Seferian-Jenkins, who is 6-foot-7 and was an all-Narrows basketball player at Gig Harbor, approached Romar about the possibility a while back.
Romar said he would welcome Seferian-Jenkins’ presence, but admitted it’s not up to him.
“He spoke to me before he got here,” Romar said . “I was fine with it. But that’s a football decision.”
What kind of basketball player is Seferian-Jenkins?
“His level of physicality is off the chart,” Romar said. “I saw him play in high school. He’s a good basketball player. He’s a really good football player, too.”
Romar said there are no set protocols for an athlete trying to play both sports at Washington.
It hasn’t been done since Nate Robinson’s freshman year at Washington. Robinson, a cornerback, eventually quit football to concentrate on basketball.
Darnell Gant got his first technical foul of the season during Saturday’s 76-60 win over Oregon. The senior forward didn’t throw a punch or shove anyone, but said a few words after teammate Tony Wroten and Oregon’s Olu Ashaolu got into it as they ran back after a made basket.
Wroten took an elbow from Ashaolu, and Gant didn’t appreciate it, and ran toward the two players. He was whistled for the technical for inserting himself into the situation and trading words with Ashaolu.
“I was ready to stand up for my teammates,” Gant said. “When it comes to my teammates, I don’t play. I saw from the corner of my eye that he kind of hit him and kind of walked over him, so I went over to his aid.”