Huskies men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters earlier this afternoon to preview Washington’s 8 p.m. Wednesday home game against Colorado. Here is everything Romar said.
(On impressions from the last road trip) “I thought in the Cal game, we competed and played right, came up short. First half, Stanford jumped on us, after the first eight minutes or so. And during that time I didn’t think we gave them a lot of resistance. But I thought the second half, we fought like crazy. I thought three of the four halves, we went on the road and really competed. But we don’t have anything to show for that.”
(On whether he thinks UW is a better team now than a week ago) “I do. I think one of the main things, main areas we’ve gotten better is self realization, understanding a little more as to why we’re not successful when we aren’t. And again, the wins and losses don’t show it, but I think we’re recognizing a little bit more about where we don’t do as well, and have a little more of a feel for it to prevent it from happening as much.”
(On the impact of Malik Dime’s absence) “Well, Malik, other than Noah, has played more minutes than anyone in our front line at this level. So the thing that we’re lacking the most is what he brings the most, experience. And he’s played on this level two years, now his second year, but JUCO two years. He’s older. You miss that on the floor. Matthew Atewe, though, has filled in, I thought, has done a nice job protecting the rim, also, in Malik’s absence.”
(On talking to players about external influences) “We talk to them about worrying about what’s going on within our group, in our family, because – I watch sports. We all watch sports. We all have our opinion, and I might have my opinion on this week’s football games. I’ve never watched them practice. I have no idea what their philosophy is, what their goals are. I have no idea what’s going on internally, but yet, I have an opinion as to why they should be doing this or why they’re not doing that. And a lot of times that opinion is not in the best interest of the team internally. We’ve got to stick with what we have within our family. Also, like I said, that’s part of sports. You’re going to be criticized. Even when you’re doing well you’re going to be criticized.”
(On whether the team has confidence it can win) “I don’t think we’ve ever had a confidence with substance. It’s one thing for people to say – before the year, a lot of times, you ask teams, ‘what’s your goal, how many games are you going to win?’… ‘Oh, we’re going to be undefeated.’ It’s been a long time since someone’s been undefeated. ‘Well, we’re going to win the next five.’ Well, how do you know? What work have you done? What success do you have to draw from? I thought we believed we would do really well but to really have that confidence to know, you have to earn that confidence. As I said replying to the first question, I think now we have more of a realistic idea of who we are and why we fall short. That allows you to get better. Before that, I don’t know if we really did. I think with a young group, you just kind of figure, we’ll turn it on and we’ll fix it, that’s all. There’s a lot more to it than that. And you have to go through it to learn it before you really get it.”
(On how frustrating or difficult it is to instill that belief when the team is losing) “Frustrating, yes. But the thing that makes it harder is if everyone starts to go their own way. That’s what makes it harder. If you stick together and you continue to be single minded in your goals and you continue to work toward that, then it’s not as hard. It gets harder when cliques start to develop, you start to listen to outside … I coached a team before that the team wasn’t doing too well in conference and one of the parents told our best player, ‘look, you guys aren’t going anywhere, you need to just play for the draft now. Forget your team. You need to play for your draft status.’ And the player listened for a while, (then) said no, I can’t do that. We ended up winning the conference tournament and going to the NCAA tournament with that particular team. So you just can’t let people influence you. As a player, myself, I played with a couple guys – World B. Free and Bernard King – and we had a guy named Purvis Short, one of the top scorers in the NBA. We had the No. 1 pick in the draft named Joe Barry Carroll. We had some scorers. And people in my sphere of influence would tell me, ‘man, those guys, they got theirs, you need to get yours! You need to shoot. How are they getting all the shots?’ Come on, man. That’s what they’re getting paid to do. Everybody doesn’t have that perspective, though, to not listen to all of that.”
(On trying to develop consistency) “Practice and continue to show why. We have large sample size of us playing the right way and the game going our way when we’re doing it, in spite of having some losses. There are many times we can show this is what it looks like when we’re focused, when we concentrate, when we don’t lose concentration. We don’t give in to fatigue. We just don’t give in. We show that. It’s not this mystery that we’ve never seen before. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen times when we’ve done a good job. We just haven’t been consistent with it. We continue to show that and talk about it. I think it helps.”
(Surprised a team with Colorado’s experience is 0-5 in league play?) “I am surprised. For fun, I was going to look at all the conferences and look at teams that are 0-4, 0-5, 0-6, whatever the conference is. My guess is there’s not a team in the country that’s 0-5 that is as good as Colorado. Colorado is much better than their record. But I also think Colorado has played one of, if not the toughest, conference schedule up to this point. They’ve played some really tough teams. They’ve played on the road their first three games. Then they come home and get two teams that were undefeated in nonconference, I think. They’re a better team than their record indicates, that’s for sure. They have three or four fifth-year seniors in their starting lineup, and then two fourth-year juniors that are playing. So they’re experienced, they’re talented, they have multiple weapons out there on the floor, and I just think they’re dangerous if they come ready to play.”
(On David Crisp becoming more efficient as a shooter) “I think last year David was trying to find his way. He’s always been a good shooter, but he was just trying to find his way – what’s a good shot, what’s not a good shot, where are my shots coming from? He has a much better understanding of that now. I think also, rarely does he shoot where he’s off balance. I thought last year he took a lot of shots where he was off balance. This year his balance has gotten better and he’s grown more confident in where he’s going to take his shots from.”
(On trying to prevent collapses late in competitive games) “We’re trying to deal with it in practice. At times we’ve shown film – this was the score, this is where we were, let’s see what we did after that, let’s see how we handled that. Most of the time it’s our inability to get stops for one reason or another. For sure against Washington State. I believe we played Cal with a little over 9 minutes left in the game, it was a 2-point game. I think Ivan Rabb had 10 points. I think it was 45-43. With almost two minutes to go, they had 65 points. We weren’t getting stops. They continued to score. It goes back to that with our team. When we’re getting stops, we’re so much better at it. That would be the case with anyone. But when we lose those leads, when we don’t finish, a lot of times it’s our inability to get stops, and that includes getting a stop and they get the offensive rebound – therefore, it’s not a stop.”
(On where that manifests the most) “It manifests itself offensively when we start to stand around. Or take quick shots, try to jam the ball down the team’s throat too quickly. The inconsistency is more on the defensive end. And that one, those go hand in hand.”
(On how important it is to have juniors and seniors to complement talented young players) “I think that is the key to being successful in college basketball today. I think it’s the key. You look around, and there are probably two or three exceptions, Kentucky being one, and even Kentucky, they’ll have a couple older guys in there. But the teams that have those guys that have been in the program two or three years – and I don’t mean marginal players, I mean guys like a UCLA. Lonzo Ball, T.J. Leaf, they’re terrific, there’s no doubt about it. But (Isaac) Hamilton and (Bryce) Alford are senior guards that were either all-conference or honorable mention all-conference. They’re really good players and they’re upperclassmen. The guys like you mentioned that are on our team, as you’re building, those guys get older, and now you bring in younger players that are really talented, they’re able to show the way. They may not score as much, maybe, maybe not, but the little things that we’ve been talking about, that your questions have stemmed from, down the stretch these guys just know, at the end of games, how to get it done. I think it’s very important in college basketball. I think there was a Cincinnati team years ago, when Kenyon Martin was a senior and they had a guy named Jermaine Tate, I believe. He was a fifth-year senior. They had another guy named Fletcher, he was a senior. And Pete Michaels, another guy, he was a senior. But they had DerMarr Johnson, who was the ninth pick in the draft, and they had a kid named Kenny Satterfield. Two freshmen that were studs. But those seniors showed them the way.
“Again, there are some exceptions. But by and large … one of the best jobs I’ve seen of doing this, what we call ‘staying old,’ was Oregon. Oregon came in and they were able to get the fifth-year transfers and JUCO guys, and right away they were older with a couple of holdovers there, and they’ve been able to maintain that for a while. Looking (at) like a Michigan State this year. They’re going to be fine, but they haven’t done as well. They depend on a lot of young players. Texas. Some others. There’s a list.”
(On the feeling creeping in that it’s too late to turn the season around) “I promise you – the margin for error is thin – but I promise you, this is not coachspeak. I don’t look at the game (like) ‘when is it too late?’ I don’t look at it that way. I look at our situation more as, ‘when is it going to click for good?’
(But do you worry about that with the players?) “Oh, yeah. We want to make sure we guard against that. We want to make sure our guys understand that we have to continue to get better and work to get better and continue to believe. Because it goes back to earlier – if you listen to the talk outside, I’ve seen it before where guys did not listen to the talk outside and we turned it around, multiple times. But if you let it get to you, you can start to believe it, and then you’ve got no chance to turn it around.”