Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters this morning to preview UW's final nonconference game tomorrow against Stony Brook (5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). He also discussed the Huskies' starting five, their rebounding and shooting inconsistency, and Robert Upshaw.
(Can you tell the time off helped?) “Yeah, definitely. Much needed. As I said before, very timely to be able to give our guys some time off, a couple of days to get away. Sometimes it’s not just the physical demands. It’s the mental demands. You’re drained mentally because you’re constantly studying for an exam when you’re practicing. You’re trying to devour and digest these scouting reports. It takes such a high level of concentration to make sure you’re in the right position on the floor, you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do. So to get away from it and just let your mind kind of get cleansed a little bit is always good.”
(On the possibility of being unbeaten in nonconference play) “I think it’s definitely a worthy goal. With our team, this will be our 12th game, so by no means does this make a season. Like I said before, win or lose, this doesn’t make the season. But to be able to say that you were undefeated in nonconference for one beats the alternative, and two, it gives you a lot of momentum and confidence going into conference.”
(That’s something you haven’t done here) “I think it’s a pretty good accomplishment. If it wasn’t that big of a deal, we’d do it every year. So it’s an accomplishment if we were to do that.”
Never miss a local story.
(On the starting five) “Those guys are so in sync with one another. It’s not always the five best players that make your starting lineup. It’s the five players that make the best team, and that’s what you’re doing. And those five guys really click and complement one another. And again, those five guys, mistakes are limited. They don’t make very many mistakes in terms of where they’re supposed to be defensively, in terms of their effort. Sometimes you can be a great player, but if your effort’s not always there, it doesn’t help your team. So that group, their effort is there, their mental attentiveness is there, they’re detail-oriented, and they play well together. The ball doesn’t stick in their hands. They’re moving that ball around. So far, so good.”
(Look at the Pac-12 any differently now than at start of year? Thoughts on the conference?) “I think you can play around with it like everybody does, but when it’s all said and done, I don’t know how much it means, because you’ve got to go play the games. And that’s kind of how I see it. Whether a team is better than you thought or not as good as you thought, you still have to play against them and they have to play against each other, so you just have to kind of wipe the slate clean and get after it. And all 12 programs are going to be competing. We’ve just got to go from there.”
(Did you figure things out earlier this year, in terms of personnel, starters, etc?) “I think we were able to. I think the way Shawn Kemp came in from day one playing, that made it pretty simple. Jernard Jarreau coming back, the things that we missed from him, even though at times he’s been a little up and down. I think recently he’s kind of turned the corner. That kind of made that simple. Your guards out there … just those guys made it easier … sometimes guys don’t put forth an effort. Sometimes guys, they’re fighting you as the coach. ‘Coach, you’ve got to let me do this, you’ve got to let me do that.’ Those guys that are in the starting lineup right now, from Day 1 they didn’t fight anything. ‘What can we do to be the best that we can be. Coach, I’m all ears. Whatever you need me to do.’ That’s how they’ve been. And that’s another reason they’re in there. that group doesn’t have many days off. They’re not perfect, but they don’t have many days off. And that started early, so it was a little easier to see, OK, who’s going to be in there.”
(Make it easier that you don’t have several five-star freshmen you’re trying to break in?) “It makes a difference. I think I said early on, maybe one of our first meetings, that we were sneaky old. And I think it’s shown in our preseason, in our 11 games we’ve played. I think experience has showed up in those games.”
(On Stony Brook’s rebounding ability) “They are a very good rebounding team. They played Cincinnati who are just piranhas on the boards, and they just were down two on the boards to Cincinnati at Cincinnati. They are. They’re really good. They have the nation’s leading rebounder on their team (Jameel Warney). It’s going to be a big test for us to see if we’ve learned anything in the last week, in terms of blocking out and getting rebounds.”
(Could rebounding be one of your weaknesses?) “I think right now, again, we can still get better defensively because at times we don’t execute the way we should. But if we can limit teams to one shot most of the game, if we can do that and be more consistent in terms of making shots, I think that takes us to a different level.”
(Is shooting one of disappointing facets of your team so far?) “We have not shot the ball consistently well. We go in spurts. A team that doesn’t shoot the ball well – I should say ‘can’t shoot’ – they don’t have spurts. They just never make outside shots. But we’ve had spurts where we’ve gone into half, we’ve shot over 40 percent for a complete game. We’ve had three or four games where we’ve shot the ball very well. We’ve had halves where we’ve shot the ball well in a half. So it’s there. we just haven’t been consistent with it. So we can turn the corner and start being consistent, making these shots, and continue to defend the way we are and limit teams to one shot – that’s why I believe there’s still room to grow within our ball team.”
(How far has Robert Upshaw come in last year?) “He’s not the same person or player. So he’s come quite a ways.”
(How is he different as a person?) “He’s just more attentive right now. He’s more invested. Last year … it was new. He wasn’t recruited here for three, four years. He didn’t really have a lot invested in the University of Washington. He couldn’t play. He had to redshirt, so he wasn’t here. So that made it a little difficult for him to embrace everything that was going on. Now, he’s embraced it a lot more, and that makes a difference.”
(The concerns you had last year that made it uncertain whether he’d play – have you seen growth there?) “Huge strides. Huge strides. Got to give him a lot of credit for that. Huge strides. And if he can continue to do this – again, he’s already having a special year, and he’s helping us have a special year – I don’t see why that won’t continue. Because he’s only going to get better.”