His teenaged players might not have totally understood it until they took the Hec Edmundson Pavilion court Friday night, but Washington Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar frequently emphasizes the importance of consistent energy and execution once Pac-12 play begins.
The competition is better. The games, usually, mean a little more. Everyone seems to be trying just a little harder.
And maybe, Romar postulates, that applies to the officials, too.
That’s one explanation for why the Huskies and UCLA Bruins combined for 64 fouls and 90 free throws during Washington’s 96-93, double-overtime victory Friday night. The Huskies host USC (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) at noon Sunday.
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“It’s conference, you’ve got to turn it up,” Romar said, “and I’m sure the officials talk about the same thing: ‘It’s conference play. We want to make sure we call this the way we had talked about before the season.’ And it obviously was called a little tighter (vs. UCLA).”
The types of foul calls they had talked about, of course, means allowing far less contact in an attempt to encourage more freedom of movement. That was the NCAA’s stated emphasis before this season began, and the Huskies have struggled at times to adhere to the new rules.
In their season opener, a 77-71 win against Texas in Shanghai, the Huskies committed 34 fouls. They’ve committed 320 in 13 games this season, more than all but 12 other Division I teams — and of those there are 346.
Washington was whistled for 33 fouls in 50 minutes of game time on Friday night. The officials also called 31 fouls on UCLA, and it is difficult to recall more than a few specific possessions during regulation that did not involve a foul or free throw.
Neither Romar or Bruins coach Steve Alford thought the officiating was one-sided, and it wasn’t. But it was certainly, uh, involved.
“We can’t worry about the refs,” said UW guard Andrew Andrews, who tied a career high with 35 points Friday. “The refs are part of the game, we all know that, just like every other thing is part of the game — traveling, turnovers. So we can’t let that affect our mindset. We’ve just got to go out and do what we’ve got to do on the court.”
The Huskies had three players foul out Friday — forwards Marquese Chriss, Malik Dime and Noah Dickerson. After Dickerson’s fifth foul — a questionable blocking call early in the first overtime as UCLA guard Bryce Alford dribbled between midcourt and the 3-point line — Andrews said he asked an official what Dickerson should have done differently.
The official told him, simply, to keep playing.
“They called it. What can you do?” Andrews said. “They can’t go back and say, ‘Oh, no, he didn’t foul him.’ So we’ve just got to keep playing.”
Said Romar: “That’s why we talked to our team after the Santa Barbara game about taking care of business early, because if you don’t, you’re at the mercy of the ball bouncing off your foot, tipping the ball in your own basket, an official’s call — you’re at the mercy of that. So you can’t snivel about those type of things.”
Andrews now has four games of 30 or more points in his career, and three of them have come this season. Brandon Roy and Quincy Pondexter are the only other UW players to have three 30-plus scoring games in one season under Romar. … Sam Timmins, a 6-foot-10 center from New Zealand, began practicing with the Huskies last week and sat on the bench for Friday’s game. He will practice and travel with the team this season but will not play, and will be a redshirt freshman in 2016-17.
Washington (9-4, 1-0 Pac-12) vs. USC (12-2, 1-0)
Noon, Sunday, Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Seattle
TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 1000-AM, 97.7-FM
All-time series: The series is tied, 70-70.
Projected starters (Statistics for 2015-16)
5 Katin Reinhardt, G (6-6, r-jr.): 13.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg
11 Jordan McLaughlin, G (6-1, so.): 12.9 ppg, 5.0 apg
12 Julian Jacobs, G (6-4, jr.): 12.0 ppg, 5.9 apg, 5.5 rpg
25 Bennie Boatwright, F (6-10, fr.): 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg
32 Nikola Jovanovic, F (6-11, jr.): 12.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg
12 Andrew Andrews, G (6-2, r-sr.): 20.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.2 apg
5 Dejounte Murray, G (6-4 1/2 , fr.): 13.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.6 apg
4 Matisse Thybulle, G (6-5, fr.): 6.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
15 Noah Dickerson, F (6-8, fr.): 7.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg
0 Marquese Chriss, F (6-9, fr.): 11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Scouting report: This is not the same USC team that finished last in the Pac-12 last season with a 3-15 conference record. The Trojans are athletic, fast and play the way coach Andy Enfield wants — in other words, the way his teams at Florida Gulf Coast played, an entertaining, free-flowing style that helped him get hired by USC. His team has the 16th-shortest average possession time in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy, and their adjusted tempo ranks 26th. The Huskies, meanwhile, have the shortest average possession length in the country at 13.5 seconds, and rank sixth in adjusted tempo — meaning a fast-paced game is surely on tap. … The Trojans have six players who average double-figure scoring — their entire regular starting lineup plus 6-foot-5 sophomore guard Elijah Stewart, who scores 10.1 points per game and had 27 points against Lafayette last week. He scored 11 points and had a highlight-reel dunk in USC’s 90-77 win at Washington State in its Pac-12 opener Friday. … Jovanovic led USC with 20 points and 12 rebounds against the Cougars, McLaughlin added 19 points, Jacobs had 12, and Reinhardt had 11. The Trojans shot 52.9 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point range and 58.8 percent from the free-throw line. For the season, USC makes 47.0 percent of their field-goal attempts and 40.7 percent from 3-point range — good for 18th in the country. Reinhardt, McLaughlin and Boatwright all shoot 40 percent or better.