Lorenzo Romar met with reporters today for about 15 minutes to preview tomorrow's game against Oregon State. Here's what he had to say ...
(On Oregon State) "They’re playing good basketball right now. They played a lot of games without Eric Moreland. He’s made a huge difference on their team. He’s really active right now, playing at a high level. They missed Angus Brandt last year. That was a big, big loss, and now he’s back and he’s playing well. (Hallice) Cooke, their freshman, I think is playing well and making really good contribution to them. Roberto Nelson is leading the league in scoring so we know what he’s doing. I think right now, they’re a good basketball team, a very dangerous basketball team. Was really impressed with them in their game against Oregon, the way they went about their business.
"It seems like they’re playing hard. They’re playing with a lot of intensity. They have a guy that they know can get buckets for them in Roberto Nelson. They have a fantastic rim protector in Eric Moreland, who is very versatile. I think they’re a good defensive team. They’re not just totally easy to score on. When you have a guy that can score like Roberto, and the combination of the size they have with (Devon) Collier and Brandt and Moreland .. a lot of guys that just kind of play around those guys. They have a good mix right now."
(Do they play as much 1-3-1 zone?) "Not as much. In the past they were pretty much 1-3-1 and 2-3 zone. They’re playing a lot more man to man defense now."
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(Is their size similar to Cal?) "Yeah, I think very similar. (David) Kravish and (Richard) Solomon are 6-9 apiece, and Brandt is 6-10, Moreland is 6-10 and Collier’s 6-9. they’re every bit as big if not bigger. As tall and as athletic as Cal’s front line was, they don’t have anyone as athletic as Eric Moreland."
(What are the lessons learned about big front lines from the Cal game?) "I just don’t think we can limit it to Cal. I go back and say Arizona’s bigger than Cal. They’re taller than Cal. Stanford, we lost the game but we shot better and scored better. They have size. Cal’s not the tallest team we’ve played against. I can’t use the Cal game as a measuring stick as to what adjustments we have to make. ArizonaState, they don’t have as many tall guys, but they have (Jordan) Bachynski, the best shot-blocker in the league. We ended up doing OK in that game, so we’ll see. Every year we’ve played OregonState, the game has always been interesting going into it. I’ve mentioned that before. It’s just never an easy game for us."
(Are you better when you're aggressive offensively?) "I think we’re always trying to be aggressive offensively. I think when you look at our league, out of seven games, for the most part we’ve been aggressive. When we get in trouble is when we start to get away from what we’re trying to do in terms of our execution, maybe force shots. That’s where we get away from it. I don’t think we’ve never not been aggressive. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s been an issue for us when we haven’t scored. I think there are some teams in this league that do a good job defending, also, and you’re just not able to do whatever you want to do out there on the floor and impose your will on them."
(On Oregon switching defenses) "Last night, the problem was at times we … they were changing defenses a little bit and we took a little too long to figure out what they were doing. In the second half we were a lot more comfortable with it. It wasn’t us not being aggressive. We were kind of stagnant. Teams that change defenses a lot, they can do that to you. But we did a better job in the second half adjusting to it."
(Does OSU mix defenses that way?) "They certainly could. They’ve done it in the past. We’ve played against that."
(Would you have expected Roberto Nelson to be the league's leading scorer?) "I wouldn’t have said ‘no way.’ Boy, he can score. I wouldn’t have said no way Roberto Nelson … he’s talented. It’s not a shock that he is. You look at the guys that are the top five in scoring, maybe you’d have thought Jahii Carson or somebody, but Roberto Nelson would be one that if someone would have said ‘what about Roberto Nelson,’ I could see that. That’s how I would see it.”
(Why isn't Nelson a bigger story?) “I’m not sure. I know that people feel the Pac-12 is up this year and he’s the leading scorer and his team is playing well right now. I don’t know if that is the case, a lot of people don’t realize that, I don’t know why. It’s interesting though. Leading scorers in league sometimes .. if I polled you right now, who’s the leading scorer in the Big 12? I don’t know if we would know. Who’s the leading scorer in the ACC? I don’t know if we would know. That stuff comes out in the end and the awards, and if you’re really following a league closely, people would know. I think the people that really follow the Pac-12 probably know that Roberto Nelson is the leading scorer.”
(On Nelson scoring a lot) “I think Roberto came in there, there were other pieces there. He’s played with Jared Cunningham and some other guys where it wasn’t his turn yet, but he’s always shown the ability to score points. Now it’s kind of his team, and now he’s doing it.”
(On 3-point defense) “I think with the exception of Chasson Randle with Stanford and the Cal game, I think we’ve done a good job of trying to limit penetration with the ball, and the switching. I think we’re able to get through screens. You can’t penetrate and kick to someone, and if you’re not getting wide open off screens, that can cut down the 3-point looks. I think that’s what we’ve been able to do when we’re right defensively."
(On C.J. Wilcox’s final 3 against Oregon) “I don’t think people realize how difficult … you guys go try this. No dribbles, from the top of the key. No dribbles and just lift up and shoot the ball ... that is a really difficult shot to make, no dribbles and you just raise up. Not only did he not put the ball on the floor to gain any type of momentum. He had the wrong foot back and stepped up just a bit to gain his balance and the thing was nothing but bottom. It was a phenomenal shot. Much harder than maybe it even looked. I know you look at the distance, how far he shot it and go wow, that is tough. But it was a special shot.
"That may be one of the more under-appreciated performances. You take C.J.’s 24 against UCLA when he was a freshman in a half. This performance ... I know he had 31 against Colorado, but what he did last night was pretty special. Three blocks, three steals. The baskets he made in the second half. The last two baskets I think we made, C.J. made those. He defended well. He did a lot of things. It was probably, maybe, I’d have to go look, but seemed like his most complete game since he’s been a Husky.”
(Do you think he's one of the best guards in the country?) “There’s no question. No question he’s one of the best guards in the country. At the end of the year, hopefully our season will reflect that and the draft will reflect that."
(When did he go from great shooter to great guard?) “I think it’s been coming. one thing about a label, man, it’s hard to take that label off. People were saying last year, all he is is a spot-up shooter. And I would continue to tell people, whoever is saying that hasn’t seen us play. Or if they’ve seen us play, they’re not really watching. Because he wouldn’t just shot-fake, one-dribble pull-up, but he was going to the basket. He was bringing the ball in transition. I think it’s been evolving. I would say the beginning of his junior year is when he started really making strides of being a more complete guard.”
(When do you know he's going to have a big day?) "When he goes up and he’s not rushing it, and he goes up with confidence and it’s nothing but bottom, I always think that here comes one of those nights. I always do. Whether it is or not. To me he’s always one bucket away from getting in a roll, makes three or four 3s. when I played with a really good shooter, I always tried to recognize, whether somebody got an offensive rebound and kicked it out to them and they hit it, or in transition, you just pass to them and they hit it. Whenever they hit that one, if they were a shooter and I played, the next time I had the ball, I was going to throw them the ball, to see if he was really on. If he hit that second one, then we’re going to shut everything down and just keep going to him. When guys shoot like that, I think we saw it in the Pac-10 tournament years ago with Salim Stoudamire from Arizona. Those type shooters, when they get it going, they are literally unstoppable because their range extends so far out, you’re just not used to putting your hand up on guys that far out. When you recognize that, that guy needs to have the ball.”
(On Wilcox contesting shots around the rim) “He has done that in the past. I can’t remember who it was, but there was someone who tried to take off on C.J. with two hands one time, and C.J. went right up there and met him at the rim, blocked his shot. One of the things that stood out to us when C.J. was in high school was how good of a shot blocker he was. In terms of being a defensive player, that’s one thing. He has become much better at defense. But he’s always had a knack for blocking shots. He’s been really good at blocking shots. If you remember last year I think he was second to Aziz (N'Diaye) in blocked shots last year. That’s just something he does well. He’s evolved as a complete defender, though, on the ball, off the ball, playing the passing lanes. What’s very, very underrated about C.J. is how quick his feet are. When he’s moving, getting shots, a lot of times you say how is he getting open? He’s so quick. Moves so quick on the defensive end, it helps him. He’s moving fast laterally, but then he can spring up off his feet. The block he had in the second half, where a guy had a layup, kind of back-cut him, he saw where the guy was, recovered, blocked the shot, hit the floor and then saved the ball, all in one motion almost. That’s how quick his reactions are.”
(On Wilcox's confidence) "I think the last couple of years, and especially this year, there is an inner-confidence that I think has made a big difference, where he just feels like they’re going in. I think early in C.J.’s career, sometimes he was shooting but maybe there was that doubt. There’s no longer any doubt. The two guys that have played for us that have been kind of like that have been him and, for different reasons, Terrence Ross. It didn’t matter if he was at the park, championship game, it didn’t faze him. And C.J. right now, I just think he is aware that he’s a good shooter, he’s a fifth-year senior, and just playing with a lot of confidence. He expects it to go in."