Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters this morning to discuss UW's Sunday game against Eastern Washington (5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). Here's what he said.
(What do you know about Eastern Washington?) “Eastern can flat-out shoot the basketball. That is not what totally defines them. They are a veteran team that knows how to play the game. They are not easily intimidated by any situation, any venue. They know how to win. They know how to be successful. And we have our hands full against them.”
(Who do they play like?) “No one that we have played plays like that. No one that is on our schedule plays like that. It’s a fun way to play, the way they’re playing, no doubt about it. I told our team they will be the most difficult team to guard this year. Didn’t say they’ll be necessarily the best team. But they’re awfully good. But they’re difficult to guard, because of their personnel and what they do.”
(What kind of game are you expecting?) “Up-tempo. I would expect it to be up and down. Two totally different teams you’re talking, San Diego State and Eastern. Again, Eastern is not in the top 25 today. San Diego State was 13 when we played them. It’s been well-noted the success San Diego State has had. But when we’re talking offense, two entirely different situations. And Eastern will present an entirely different challenge for us than San Diego State did.”
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(What are the challenges of defending a good outside shooting team in your defensive scheme?) “A team that really shoots the basketball, you have to be able to get through screens, but a lot of times you have to be able to contain the ball. You have to be able to prevent penetration. Because once a team like that starts penetrating on you, you begin to rotate. It’s like the dog chasing its tail. It just somehow keeps getting away from you. So you have to keep the ball in front so you don’t have to bring as much help to put you in rotation situations in multiple possessions.”
(Do they create most of their looks with dribble penetration?) “A lot of times they do, yeah. A lot of times off the ball screen. What they’re really good at is transition. When you’re getting back, you’re back, but you’re not in proper floor position. And they catch and shoot from anywhere. And you’re just not accustomed to guarding that type of shooting team that early in the possession. Again, what I mean is, you get back, you’re there, and as soon as you rest, like OK, I busted my tail to get back – that guy has the ball in his hands, he’s got it at 25 feet, and he’s shooting it. Most teams don’t play like that.”
(Thoughts on EWU forward Venky Jois?) “Jois is, for me, one of the more entertaining guys to watch. And I don’t mean that because he’s going to come out and … well, who knows how many he’s going to get. But he plays the game with so much passion. He’s sneaky athletic. He goes up and blocks a couple shots a game. He’ll go up and dunk over a couple of guys. But he just really – you can just see he really loves to play basketball. When he’s out there playing, he’s chest-bumping, he’s beating his chest, and you don’t get the feel that he’s trying to show you up, or he’s trying to taunt you. You just get the feeling like man, this guy really loves to play. And I think that wears on his team and they play off of him in that regard. So he’s fun to watch that way. He’s not just a cheerleader, now. He’s a productive warrior out there.”
(Sounds a little like former Oregon forward Arselan Kazemi?) “Kazemi and him, we’ve made that comparison. That’s a good one. He plays with even more energy. I thought Kazemi, when he played with that Oregon team, deferred quite a bit. They had some other guys that were good on that team. I thought he kind of deferred to them and would pick his spots. No, not with Jois. From the opening tap to the end of the game, that guy is active and he’s trying to impose his will on you.”
(What can you take from last year’s game against EWU?) “That they were up at the half and for a good portion of that game, they were up. It’s one of those games that their coaching staff probably looks back on back then, and probably even then, and says ‘remember, we had that game won. We should have won that game.’ I’m sure that’s how they felt about it. They played in such a way where they had every right to say that. We were fortunate to win the game, but that’s what I take from it, as opposed to ‘we won the game, so all we have to do is this.’ No, no. They had their way with us that night. We just finished with more points at the end.”
(What did you like about the San Diego State film?) “I thought our commitment to detail in the San Diego State game was the best thing we did all night. I thought we had a defensive gameplan and I don’t think our guys wavered from it. I didn’t think we were bored with success in defending them. I thought we stuck with what we were supposed to do for 40 minutes, and against that team, you have to do that or eventually it’s going to catch up with you and they’re going to get you.”
(How has team responded to being ranked?) “No one has been ranked on this team. The thing this week is, it was finals week. So you have to change practice times. Some guys are coming in and cramming, doing work, been a little bit distracted for finals week. That would be the only thing that’s been a little bit of a distraction. But we go through it every year this time. We know finals week is always going to be a tough week. In terms of their attitudes coming in here, still working hard, that’s remained the same.”
(Thoughts on being ranked?) “These guys, we talked about, have not experienced it at all. For that to be said about our team I think helps with our overall confidence about our group. Just kind of shows that hard work is paying off right now.”