Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters for about 23 minutes earlier this afternoon to discuss his team's four-game losing streak, as well as a number of other topics. Here's everything he said.
(Jernard Jarreau’s status?) “I think he’ll be fine. I think he’ll be able to go Thursday.
(Just tweaked his knee?) “Sometimes with knees like that after surgery, sometimes scar tissue pops. He’ll be in practice today and he should be able to go on Thursday.”
(How has team responded since loss?) “For us, today is Tuesday, yesterday was Monday, we met as a staff and we practiced. I thought we had a great practice yesterday. Beyond that it hasn’t been much different.”
(Did you know about players-only meeting?) “I got wind of it, yes.”
(Did you think something like that needed to happen?) “I don’t know if I was saying, ‘you know what, we’ve lost four in a row. We’ve got to meet. Somebody’s got to call a team meeting.’ I don’t think I was thinking in that regard, but since it happened, I like that they’re taking the initiative to feel like it’s important enough to get things resolved.”
(Good for them to air some things out?) “There was going to be an airing, but it was going to happen when we saw them. It just so happened that they probably got together amongst themselves and aired some things with them. But we definitely needed to address some things, and talk about some things.”
(On taking accountability after the WSU game for the loss) “If you don’t have an idea what the issues are, you can’t take accountability. To me, it’s superficial. You’re just saying coach-speak. But I haven’t felt we’ve been right since we’ve come back from Christmas break. I haven’t felt like we’ve been the same group. You start to watch those things, and those things become a pattern, and I said, ‘you know what? I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we get back to what we were doing before.’ And there’s been slippage. And if slippage has happened, I have to point to myself as the head coach for allowing slippage to happen. There’s several areas that we’ve seen that slippage has occurred. That’s why I knew, OK, this is where it’s at, we’re going to fix this.”
(On confusion defensively) “That’s part of it. Our transition defense was exposed by Washington State, who does a great job of trying to get out in transition, but they really exposed us to where defensively, we’re supposed to line up. When that shot goes up, when we shoot the basketball, there are places we’re supposed to go, right now, in preparation for them coming back at us. And we were not getting to those spots. We weren’t doing a good enough job in terms of what we were supposed to be doing. In terms of who is picking up who in the halfcourt, at times I felt we’ve been lackadaisical in those areas. And there was not a sense of urgency there. and sometimes the confusion occurs because one person has kind of neglected his responsibility and now you’re just scrambling. Who’s supposed to get whom now? And we were in those positions too many times. People say, ‘well now you’re going to change everything.’ … No. We were fine. But we got away from doing the things that were making us successful earlier. One of those was we were just nails defensively. It didn’t matter who we played against or what was going on – defensively, we were going to show up, and we felt good about that. And we fell off in that regard. So it’s not about changing our defenses and trying all kind of different things. Let’s get back to doing what we felt was going to be successful before the year started, and was successful. We just got away from it.
(What makes you more confident you can cut down on slippage better than last season?) “I just think right now our leadership, I just think we have enough guys that aren’t going to settle for this and let this continue to go on. I also think that last year we were getting better defensively after we revamped our defense, after the first half-dozen games, whatever it was, and we were a work in progress until league started. Once league started we were nails, pretty good. Then the slippage occurred. That was a two-week period where we were good. This was a longer period than that. We were good for a month-plus, defensively. So we were able to sustain it longer, so I think because of that – that was more our identity than the other way that we’ve been playing in the last few weeks.”
(Is that belief/buy-in still there?) “It’s been more confirmed, because we haven’t played defense and look what the outcome has been. It’s not a know-how thing. It’s not know-how. When we’re fresh and we’re going in in practice and we’re guarding – no one’s tired. No one’s upset because they didn’t get the ball, whatever it was. Our guys are sometimes literally flawless on the defensive end. They’re exactly where they need to be. They look like they’re tied to a string. They’re moving in unison. They’re communicating. If you don’t know, you don’t know. We know. We just have to make sure that we do it every possession.”
(On keeping bigs out of foul trouble) “It’s important. You take a team like Utah right now who’s playing as good of basketball as anyone in our league. Delon Wright has to be careful that he doesn’t get in foul trouble. Every team has somebody that they’re thinking, ‘you’ve got to be careful so you don’t get in foul trouble.’ Well, with our team, not just those big guys, there are other guys we hate to see get in foul trouble. In general, we’d like to keep everyone ready to go on the floor. Jernard Jarreau is not one of our top five scorers, but him getting in foul trouble hurt us in that Washington State game in particular because he’s our most versatile big defender, and with him out of the game, with them spreading us that way, it made it a little more difficult for us.”
(Can team learn from losing streak and put it behind them?) “Based on the way we practiced yesterday, yes. We’ll go again today. Hopefully we’ll have as energetic and focused of a practice as we had yesterday. And it takes one. Once you get one, then you move onto the next one, and hopefully we can just build upon that and get ourselves out of this hole.”
(What’s your best guess as to why you haven’t shot the ball well this year?) “I don’t know. Sometimes with players – I say this a lot – you may be on a player’s case about defense or lack of rebounding. You’re constantly on them – ‘you’ve got to defend better, you’ve got to rebound better’ – and that’s in their head, and it carries over to the offensive end sometimes. Well, when we started really playing games, the stakes are a little higher. Even though you try to make those stakes high in practice, it’s still not the same as playing an actual game. That’s why you need game experience. Sometimes you just get a little cloudy. I think sometimes if you’re not quite sure offensively, if you don’t have a good feel for exactly where you’re supposed to be, how you’re supposed to read every situation, it makes you think. Thinking takes your accuracy away. It takes your athleticism away. It takes a lot away when you’re thinking too much. Sometimes we may think too much, and then when the ball doesn’t go in the basket for a period of time, doubt can creep in. Shooters have to shoot with supreme confidence. You’ve got to shoot it like you’ve made your last 20, even if you’ve missed your last 20 – if you’re a shooter. If you’re not a shooter, don’t do that. But if you’re a shooter, you know you can shoot it. Guys go through slumps. Keep shooting the ball. But also, work extra and earn the right to have confidence when you go out there and shoot. All those things have to happen unless you’re a guy like C.J. Wilcox who is just a phenomenal shooter. And even C.J., we’ve had some of these meetings where we’re talking ‘what do you think is wrong with C.J.’s shot?’, that type of thing. I think a lot of players go through that. Very few don’t go through shooting slumps. It just so happens that we’ve not shot the ball well as a team. And let me say this, too – a guy like Donaven Dorsey who was shooting at one point about 44 percent from 3, that scouting report, ‘look, if that guy gets a shot off, you’re coming out of the game. You understand me?’ That’s what they’re telling their teams, and they’re not leaving Donaven. Very rarely does he get a wide open shot now. So he has to be able to play above the scout, and, in his case, maybe some things to get him open for some more open looks.”
(In a perfect world, would you like to play Dorsey and Quevyn Winters more for their shooting?) “Right now, we’re talking about, we have to do a better job of rebounding missed shots. I’m answering your question – our 2009 team didn’t shoot well, but Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter and those guys, they were relentless on the boards. San Diego State right now is shooting a worse percentage than we are, but they’re getting 14 offensive rebounds a game, so their overall percentage isn’t that bad. We have to do a better job of that. But if we were able to start knocking shots down, that changes the whole complexion of what’s going on. I would say if we’d been able to knock shots down, even though we have taken a step back defensively – we had a chance to win all four of the games that we lost. All the games came down to the end, and I don’t think we shot very good percentages in any of those games. So yes, right now, you know – as the head coach, I talk about, I take responsibility – I have to coach this team as if we’re not making shots and find a way, somehow. That’s my job. But yet, it would help if we start making some shots. That kind of would help. Guys have shot the ball well in the past.”
(On when defensive slippage occurs) “The thing that’s more … we’ve been ahead double-digits in the first half in games. I know Cal we were up eight, Stanford we were up eight or 10, something like that. We were up seven, I know, against Washington State. We haven’t been able to hold onto those leads. Actually, down the stretch, is kind of when our defense turns up, and we’re playing better defense down the stretch. It’s that period from about the 13-minute mark in the first half ‘til about the 10-minute mark is where the slippage has occurred the most, I think. We’ve got to find a way to fix that.”
(Did you see OSU’s win over Arizona coming? Is that a wakeup call?) “I didn’t see it coming, no. In terms of a wakeup call, for our players, I would think it would be, yeah. I would think it would be for sure. We have to respect every team we play against. I think we lost at home to a good team but we would have thought we’d be favored to beat Stony Brook, and we lost that game. So I don’t know how many more wakeup calls we need in that regard.”
(Why is OSU so much better now?) “Two things I think that has happened there is one, they have put in a zone that is very sound and they’re very disciplined in their zone, yet they’re aggressive. But there are not a whole lot of holes in that zone when you’re playing against it. And those guys believe when they’re in that, they’re going to play well. They’re playing overall just good defense. You look at their defensive numbers, they’re ranked near the top of our league. So that’s one. And then secondly, I think Coach (Wayne) Tinkle, I know Coach, and he’s a positive person. He’s come in there and I think he’s made those guys feel good about themselves, and they’ve been able to play with a lot of confidence, and that positive outlook for them I think is just what the doctor ordered. Remember, I think they lost to Western Oregon in their exhibition game. I think they were down 18 in the first half. So from that, to beating the No. 7 team in the country, they’ve come a long way. So I think if he had taken them all down in the woodshed and lashed them, they don’t come back from that. I would guess he’s probably been pretty firm, yet pretty positive with that group, so now they have a belief.”
(What’s strength of offense? Nigel Williams-Goss doing his thing, or post players?) “I think they’re both strengths. In a perfect world, if I could script it, Nigel continues to do what he’s doing, our bigs continue to do what they’re doing, we get back to guarding the way we’re supposed to, and everyone else, they don’t need to be superman. They just need to be able to make open shots. And then I think we’ll be pretty good.”
(Running as much as you want?) “No, not as much as we would like. When you’re not guarding like you should, you don’t get as many run-outs. A true mark of a running team is they run on makes, too. So we’re pushing the ball, and I think you look at the different times that Shawn Kemp gets a run-out ahead, we throw the ball to him, he gets one. When we played Washington State, as they were running out, we were getting our run-outs, also. So we’re pushing the ball. But if you’re going to really run, at the end of that, you’ve got to be able to knock that shot down, and there are times we’re running but the shot doesn’t go down, so it doesn’t look like we’re really getting anything out of transition.”
(Last big-man duo like Kemp/Upshaw?) “Jon (Brockman) and Spencer (Hawes). The next closest was probably Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz (N’Diaye), but Aziz wasn’t the scorer that Robert and Shawn are. So yeah, it was Jon Brockman and Spencer.”
(On Kemp and Upshaw playing together) “Well, we saw this with Perris – Perris Blackwell probably watches our games and says, ‘ah, I wish I was on that team!’ Because whether the guy was 7-foot or 8-foot, Perris had him, because the next guy was 6-4, which was Mike Anderson last year until Shawn came back. But a lot of times Perris just had to take the biggest guy. Well, that biggest guy now takes Robert when those two are in the game, and Shawn gets the second guy, or in a case like a Cal, they put (David) Kravish on Shawn, and I think (Christian) Behrens, 6-foot-8, was on Robert. Robert was able to get some easy baskets. So with both of them on the floor, one of them gets the smaller guy in a lot of games. There are about three teams in our league that have two big guys like that. But that’s where Shawn benefits the most, I think.”
(On getting ball inside more) “We should definitely go to them more. Like we played a couple teams and they just doubled the post. They went in and doubled and made us throw the ball out of there. Some teams have done that. But yeah, we should. They’re both shooting right at 60 percent. They should get more looks.”
(How satisfied are you with outside shot selection?) “At times, not satisfied. There are times when, my big thing, my philosophy as a coach, if a guy’s wide open, he has to shoot the basketball. He’s wide open. He has to shoot it. And if he can’t make the shot when he’s wide open, then something needs to happen. Something else needs to happen. But it’s never acceptable when we shoot a contested shot early in the shot-clock from 3, and sometimes we do that. And I would like for every one of those contested 3s probably to be thrown inside … hey, turn that down and throw the ball to the guy that’s shooting 60 percent.”
(So it’s two-fold? Guys aren’t pulling the trigger on wide-open looks enough?) “I wouldn’t say not pulling the trigger enough. It’s just that sometimes we’re not shooting a high percentage and you say, ‘why do you keep shooting 3s?’ Well, the guys are wide open. Well, the other team would say, ‘yeah, that’s part of the scout,’ to leave that guy wide open. There are some guys we play against where we say, ‘just get a hand up, but if they shoot it, that’s OK. They don’t make much of them.’ Well, if you’re that guy, you need to drive to the basket more. And if you’re open, it’s just hard. There’s that delicate balance. If you’re wide open, you think you’ve got to shoot the ball. But if you’re not successful enough, you need to do something else.
(Is Andrew Andrews the guy who really needs to get going?) “You know what, yes. But I could say that – Quevyn Winters, Donaven Dorsey come in the game: ‘OK, there they are, shooter, shooter. You got him? Are you sure?’ That’s what they’re saying. Andrew’s a little different, because he’s in there more, but let’s go back to Seattle U, second game of the year. I don’t know if Andrew made more than one shot in the first half. And we’re just kind of hanging with them. Second half, he comes out, three 3s, bang, bang, bang, we’re separated. Changed the game. We play UTEP, he starts out bang, bang, bang, hitting, then he doesn’t hit much. Then toward the end of the game he hits a huge 3 and we end up winning the game. Long Beach State, I believe it was, he didn’t have a good night, then all of a sudden down the stretch he hits two big shots, daggers. And we know last year he went through a shooting slump, then the last six games … I know he averaged 17 a game his last five, six games. So he’s very streaky right now. So at any point, he could break out of that. First shot of the game he hits in the Wazzu game. Boom. Just knocks it down. We just have to keep shooting, all of us. Keep shooting during and after practice, before practice, and when we get our opportunities, shoot it with confidence.”