FROM TUCSON -- Here's what Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said after practice today about Saturday's game at Arizona, and the recruitment of Wildcats star freshman Aaron Gordon:
(You guys gave yourselves away a little bit last night) "I don’t think Arizona’s looking at it like that. They know everybody’s out to try to beat the No. 1 team in the country. I just think that’s how it is in sports. If you have a team that is going to be business-like, workmanlike and go out and play, it doesn’t matter how you’re perceived. You have to just worry about being your best whenever you go out on the floor."
(What challenges does Arizona present?) "First and foremost, you’ve got to find a way to score on them. They’re so good defensively, they’re so long, they protect the rim so well. They have 6-8, 6-6, 6-7 guys that can guard 6-1 people. They have a big guy in the middle. They’re just very good there. And then they’re so good on the backboards. They miss a shot, it’s almost like part of their offense, and now let’s go get it. That’s how we finish our play. Those are the biggest challenges."
(What did you take from the WSU-Arizona game?) "Confirmation. They’re awfully good. They defend you. Obviously WashingtonState was without a couple of their guys, but at the same time, you hold a team to seven points at the half, Division 1 basketball, it’s pretty good. Pretty impressive."
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(How will 4-guard lineup match up with Arizona's frontcourt?) "We’ll find out. We’re going to have to be scrappy. We can’t sit back and let them go at us. We have to be aggressive because we’re going to have a size disadvantage obviously."
(Does that make transition game more important?) "Yeah, once they get back and they’re set, you have all these panthers back there ready to pounce, these Dobermans, man. It makes it a little more difficult to score. If we can get out and get some easy baskets, that would definitely help our cause."
(What's led to C.J. Wilcox's progression this season?) "Maturity and health. Before, he was healthy enough to play but he couldn’t practice. And when you can’t practice, you become rusty, and that’s what has happened to him the last two years. But he’s also been in college a while now and understands a lot more. There was a time when you got better after a four-year period and it was OK. That’s kind of what he’s done. There have been others in our program, like Brandon Roy and Quincy Pondexter that were here four years, they got better. Here at Arizona, a guy like Solomon Hill was here for four years and became a fantastic basketball player. He’s not around here, is he? I’m glad he’s gone. But that happens, and he’s one of those where that’s happened."
(On recruiting Wilcox) "When we first recruited him we just saw how easy it was for him to let the ball go. His stroke was feathery and nice and he was athletic along with it. So those are the things when we recruited him we were expecting him to do. He showed signs early and his numbers and percentages have gone up each year."
(How close was Aaron Gordon to coming to UW?) "For a long time, he was coming to Washington. Down the stretch, and I think he would tell you that, for a long time, he was going to come. But he came to Arizona and he was very impressed with what was going on. He felt here he could have a chance to win a national championship. … It was close, but down the stretch he kind of made up his mind what he wanted. We didn’t have the best year last year, and that may have hurt our chances as well. But people don’t understand, Aaron can get 10 assists and eight points and be tickled pink because he had 10 assists. He’s an unselfish player. He’s one of the few, high-profile, elite basketball players that has a motor and really gets after it. I think that sets him apart from a lot of people. He can play on any team, anywhere."
(How far back do you go with him?) "When I was younger, I think maybe college and pro, his dad, we would go play. I’d always pick his dad on my team because his dad was an energy guy, could rebound, jump out the gym. I’d always pick him. Later on, I read somewhere about Drew Gordon, and it was ‘yeah, that’s Eddie’s son.’ So we recruited Drew and got to know him and whenever we would talk or go by the house, Aaron was there. He had longer hair then. He was just kind of listening around. That’s when we first met him."
(Will it take a Superman effort to win?) "You’ve got to play well. A team like Arizona will capitalize on every mistake you make. When we played UConn, we made mistakes and there it was. They make you pay for it. We played some other teams, we make mistakes, they don’t make a run. Arizona’s going to make us pay for it. I wouldn’t say as much a Superman effort. We just have to be super efficient. We have to be mistake free, mentally and on the floor."