Here is everything Washington Huskies men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar said during his media availability ahead of Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game against No. 15 Oregon at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
(On how the team handled the loss) “How we handled it and how we felt are probably two different things, maybe. I thought we handled it relatively well, considering the circumstances. No one was pleased. No one was indifferent. We didn’t like what happened. We had no one to blame but ourselves. But I thought we did come back and tried to get some things done yesterday, and I thought we did.”
(On playing better defense recently then collapsing down the stretch) “That one caught us off guard, because even when Washington State, who did a tremendous job in that game coming back and winning the game – even when they made their run, a lot of that was due to our turnovers and shot selection. I still didn’t think we were playing poor defense. I got some run-outs because of our offense. Our offense kind of helped their offense. And then we guarded – before the 2:41 mark, before they went on their run, we had stopped them six out of seven times. Six out of seven times, we had gotten stops. That’s winning basketball down the stretch. That’s what you want. Then all of a sudden there was just a collapse defensively. It was hard to get a stop down the stretch.”
(On Malachi Flynn’s final layup in the WSU game. Was that a different play than the previous one?) “No, not really. We just guarded it differently, but we didn’t execute it the way we were supposed to guard it. There was supposed to be more help that last shot, and for whatever reason, put that on me – we weren’t … whatever word we want to use, I guess we just didn’t get it done. Just didn’t get it done there.”
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(On making progress since the Gonzaga loss) “I think we’ve made defensive progress, but we haven’t made it to a point where we’re consistent with it yet. I thought the tally went to four straight halves where we’ve played much better basketball – the second half of Cal Poly, the Seattle U game, and then the first half against Wazzu. I thought defensively, we have made progress. I thought offensively, we were a lot more efficient. So yeah, I think we’ve made progress.”
(On how rare it is for Markelle Fultz to be so uplifting and positive with teammates) “Extremely rare, especially as a freshman with so much placed on his shoulders. He definitely has an even temperament. A lot of people aren’t aware his great-grandmother had passed here recently over the holidays. It was really, really hard for him. A couple of practices we had, you could just see his mind was back somewhere else. (That’s) to be expected, but yet he came out and competed in the game. In fact, he’s on his way back (to Seattle) now, he had to go back (to Maryland) for the funeral. So he hasn’t practiced with us. Right after the Wazzu game, he got on a flight and went back. He’ll be back for the game tomorrow, but I think it’ll be typical of him – he’ll come out and probably no one will know what’s going on in his mind, what just happened in his life.”
(On a time when Fultz was particularly encouraging toward his teammates) “I don’t remember when he wasn’t doing that. That’s just kind of how he’s been the entire time. Away from this floor, he’s trying to encourage his teammates to continue to fight, which is a good thing.”
(On whether Dillon Brooks is still who makes Oregon go) “Oh, there’s no question. Dillon Brooks is as fierce a competitor as anyone in this league right now. He’s playing with a lot of confidence. You can just see he has that edge to him out there on that basketball floor that just kind of lifts his team up. You can just see it in his eyes when he’s out there playing. It’s nothing that’s manufactured, it’s nothing that’s fake. That’s just how he goes about his business.”
(On Oregon’s offensive weapons) “They have multiple guys that can go out and score a lot of points for their team. They’re an impressive team, no doubt about it.”
(Markelle limited at all tomorrow?) “No, no. In terms of minutes played and all that, no. He’ll be fine that way.”
(On what Oregon has done to be so good the last few years) “Coach (Dana) Altman, I think he’s one of the finest coaches in the country, for starters. I think what they were able to do early on to get it going, they were able to get old quick. They had some returners that were still there, and they were able to get some fifth-year transfers, and some other transfers, to where they didn’t go through the process where they were young and had to build it up. Immediately they were able to stay old and put their scheme in. they did that for a few years and then they would sprinkle in a young high school recruit here and there. Then they got to a point where now, they’re getting high school (players), now they’re able to build and be old naturally, without having to go get the transfers, even though I’m sure they’ll still be in contention for some others. … It seems like it was done strategically. They just didn’t fall into that.”
(On whether team has a sense of urgency with NCAA hopes already slim) “The way I would answer that question is, I think our guys were shocked that we didn’t get it done. I don’t think we walked out on this floor with so much confidence that nobody could beat us. I don’t think we felt like that a tall. Just if you let down for a moment at this level, you can come out on the short end of the stick, and I think that’s … our guys just kind of felt like we’ll be fine, we’ll be fine. Whether we let our guard down, got distracted, whatever it is, we didn’t close that game out in either half. I thought the first half was the beginning of the run that they had going into the second half, and we didn’t close it out then. IT’s a very, very tough lesson to learn for a young group. The guys that are back this year – and I’ve started to say this – were not the key guys last year. The key guys are gone. So now it’s an opportunity to step up and be the key guy in those situations, and we learned a hard lesson in those situations that you just can’t let up. Whatever way you want to phrase it, I think that’s probably the biggest lesson we’ve learned, that man, we’ve got to bring it the entire time.”
(Been paying attention to Nathan Hale?) “Yeah. Oh, yeah. Paying close attention.”
(What do you think of what they’re doing?) “I don’t know how much I can comment on their situation, but it looks OK to me.”
(Did you see the Peach Bowl?) “Oh, I did. How anyone – anyone – can watch our Huskies and be a Husky fan and say ‘what was wrong with our team today?’ I just don’t understand. I really don’t understand. Alabama is a very, very good football team, and our team is a good football team. If our team could have played in the other game, I think we’d be playing for the national championship. Alabama is just really good. I was so impressed and so proud of our group, how we handled ourselves all year, including the championship game. We didn’t get it done, but it was very impressive.”