Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters earlier this afternoon for an eclectic discussion ahead of UW's trip this week to Colorado and Utah.
Romar said he's "pretty sure" sophomore guard Darin Johnson will play on Thursday against Colorado. Johnson missed UW's last two games with a strained quadriceps, but it sounds like he'll play against the Buffaloes if he makes it through practice Tuesday and Wednesday without any issues.
"We anticipate him playing," Romar said.
Here's the full transcript of Romar's media availability.
(On why it’s difficult to play at Colorado) “I think they have a very involved fanbase that’s enthusiastic at their games. Colorado plays good defense, they share the basketball. Josh Scott is one of the best low-post scorers in our league. I know he’s been out, but he could very well play against us. Askia Booker is a guy that can just go off and light up the scoreboard, as well. And then they have some complementary players I think that can come in and do a good job for them. They’re not going to go away because of their ability to defend. They play together. They take good shots. They’re well-coached.”
(Any common theme between last two losses in Colorado?) “They just flat-out beat us both times. A couple years ago when we were there, I remember we got off to a double-digit lead at halftime. They cut it down, they ended up beating us pretty good. But they’ve just beaten us.”
(Altitude a factor there?) “I’ve played myself in that altitude probably 10 times in my lifetime as a basketball player. And to say there’s no such thing as that affecting you, that’s not true. It does affect you. But in my opinion, it affects you for about three to five minutes. The beginning, you just realize that you’re a little short of breath more than you normally are. But then after a while, you kind of get your second wind and you’re ready to go. So I feel like sometimes it’s overblown by maybe people … I can see why those there would overblow it. I could totally understand that. But you come in there, all right, yeah, for a little while, it affects you. But then after that, get over it. It’s fine.”
(They have the altitude written all over the walls there. That intimidating at all?) “It can intimidate you. It can get into your head if you allow it to. I’m a firm believe in that. Yeah, there is something there. but does it affect you for 40 minutes to where you just can’t get anything done? I don’t think that’s the case.”
(When you’ve had teams that struggled on the road, what was usually the problem?) “Sometimes it’s youth. Sometimes just inexperience. Inexperience doesn’t travel well on the road, unless you’re just so talented, more talented than anyone else. I think that affects you on the road, for sure. And that could have been the case with some of our teams. Sometimes you’re going through just a bad stretch, but for the most part I think inexperience, poor defense – if you’re going on the road and you’re not defending well and you’re not taking care of the basketball … if any of our teams had those characteristics, that would explain why. I think the teams that went on the road and did well, had more experience, had guys that could just go make plays on the road. When they’re doing a good job defensively against you, sometimes you have to be able to just go make plays at that point.”
(Where does this team fit into that conversation?) “Well, experience-wise, I think we do OK that way, because so far when we’ve been on the road or in a neutral site, we lost at Cal, we didn’t defend well in the second half. But I thought we played good against Stanford and didn’t win the game. Turned the ball over too much, but I thought we were ready to play. There’s a difference. You can go on the road and you can watch teams that there’s just a little doubt, ‘can we really get this done?’ You have that kind of look on your face. I haven’t seen that with this team.”
(Take anything away from last road trip?) “I think being able to play defense for 40 minutes, we can take from the Cal game. And I think from the Stanford game, you’ve got to be able to take care of the basketball on the road. You just have to be able to take care of it, and you have to have good shot selection. I think we can learn from both of those instances, because those are both winnable games.”
(On having confidence on the road) “I haven’t sensed that we’ve lacked confidence on the road at all. I haven’t sensed that. I sensed that maybe the Seattle U game, the first time we played … even though it was in Seattle, we played away from our place here, and we had a tough time getting things going. But I thought Seattle U was playing good defense, and we finally got it going a little bit. I’ve never sensed that we had doubt or have been afraid to play on the road. I actually feel like we’ve embraced it at this point.”
(Will Darin Johnson play on Thursday?) “We’re pretty sure that he’ll be back. We’re looking forward to him practicing today and tomorrow, and we anticipate him playing.”
(Better feel for the shortened rotation?) “I think so. I think so. It’s still a little bit of a work in progress, but it certainly helps when Donaven Dorsey comes off the bench and plays the way he did in the last game. That always helps, when someone is going to give you that type of production.”
(Ever think you’d play this much zone?) “No. And you know, I’m with USA Basketball selection committee in some capacity, and the chairman is Jim Boeheim, and I’ve been able to sit with him and have some good talks about zone and thinking to myself, ‘you know what, it’s fascinating, and I can see that you really believe in this, Coach, and it’s really worked for you.’ I wasn’t talking to him thinking because we’re going to start playing zone all the time. But out of necessity, we’ve had to do it … It’s been all right.”
(Philosophically, why have you always preferred man-to-man?) “We’ve always been a pressure program. Attack, attack, attack, offensively and defensively. And beginning with the injuries last year, we had to back off that, and we were so small we couldn’t really do that. It’s just always been my philosophy that you take it to them. You don’t wait for them to dictate. And it’s a little more difficult to do that in a zone.”
(Have your players embraced it?) “I think so. I think our guys are doing a good job. One of the things that’s important if you’re doing something new or changing something is, there has to be a belief that it’s going to be able to work. And I think the more we do it, the more we’re effective in it, the more our guys believe that it’s something that can work for us. In the nonconference we used it several times, and it helped us win ballgames. So I think there was already a certain level of belief in it. But now that we’re doing it more, I think that belief has increased.”
(On Shawn Kemp Jr. being able to defend perimeter in the zone) “What was the case was, Shawn and Robert Upshaw … when we played man, it was hard for them to play together in the man, because a lot of times they’ll have a smaller post player, or a post player that’s outside quite a bit, and both those guys are so used to playing in the paint, it made it a little more difficult. And even when we went zone, it was a little difficult for Shawn to cover out on the perimeter. But Shawn has learned to do it, and he does a really good job now. And that allows us to play those guys together more, and it allows us to stay in the zone, because now you are not compensating (for) any lack of length.”
(On tweaking the zone to still attack some) "Just a little bit, but there's a fine line going out trapping and really trying to create turnovers and leaving the basket empty. Robert does a good job there, but you don't want to put too much pressure on him and now he's in foul trouble. So we do still go out and try to pressure the ball. We don't just totally sit back and let you throw it around. We try to put pressure on the ball."
(On trapping) "That could be the case, but again we've been holding team to pretty good decent field-goal percentages on the defensive end. We would love to create more turnovers just because we don't do nearly as good of a job as we need to doing that, but again where we are with our personnel if you're going to start trapping your depth really comes into play. Guys get tired more. So we have to make sure we keep guys in the game too."
(On more shots falling recently) "I'm going to really seem dumb saying this. I'm going to seem something - you guys can come up with the word. That's how we were shooting the ball early. That's how we were shooting it. That's why I was saying I think we're going to be fine shooting the basketball because that's what it looked like every day in practice. I'm not embellishing, every day in practice. That's how it looked early, but then there it went all of a sudden (and) it wasn't like that. It is good to see the ball go in the basket more. Guys are confident in shooting the basketball."
(On settling in roles and getting comfortable) "Could be. And again as we continue to work offensively and knowing where you're going to get your shots that helps also. But guys are getting in the gym and taking extra shots."
(On taking different routines to jump start things) "No I don't think so. I don't think so. Maybe in my self conscious we were doing something to change it, but no I don't think so."
(On Dorsey defeating the opponent's scouting report) "Donaven did two things in the game that if you look (he) hadn't been able to do that much in the preseason or before. He outran everybody one time and got a shot in the corner that was wide open because he ran the floor. Spaced the floor. There's a difference in being in position when the shot goes up and you're near half court already, but he ran a distance. Even changed sides of the floor and ran to a corner. He needs to be able to do more of that. He needs to get ahead of the defense at times because that's one of the hardest threes to guard is the transition three because someone is picking up the ball and they're scattered down the way. But he did that. And then it wasn't a shot, but a steal. He got a deflection and steal and went down the court and dunked the ball. He was more active. He's been doing extra away from practice to get himself in better condition. That was probably the first game that I saw that I paid off."
(On if Dorsey reminds him of anyone) "He shot a couple in the corner and I thought of Glenn Rice, but he's not as tall as Glenn Rice. I'd have to give that some thought."
(On how much better UW is when Dorsey plays well) "He had five rebounds too. I don't know if he had a game this year where he's pulled down five rebounds. Defensively, he wasn't making very many mistakes. If he's doing those things, even if his shot isn't going in as much he still has a chance to stay on the floor more. And that stretches the defense just because you know he's out there and you got to guard him. But when he actually is knocking the shots down, it definitely makes us a better team."
(On comparing Dorsey to C.J. Wilcox's freshman year) "No. No. Totally different. C.J. was different because he redshirted his first year. And then his actual freshman year, playing the game, I think they're different."
(On Wilcox taking big shots) "Michigan State. Texas A&M. It's interesting to look back on that now and say what were you thinking letting a freshman take those shots? And now you look and he's the all-time three-point shooter in the history of the program. It was just that we would see that every day. Freshman, kindergarten and whatever it is, a guy keeps making shots you would think he's going to make the shot. We all know he made a whole lot of shots for us and helped us win a whole lot of games. We just felt like even when C.J. was a freshman he was so good knocking that shot down that in a situation people may not guard him as much because he was a freshman. They think they have to guard Isaiah Thomas or some other guys."
(On Dorsey's role as a shooter) "That is not the plan because Donaven can do more than that. Donaven can put the ball on the floor and create his shot. Donaven can draw the defense and pass it. He's capable of doing all of those things, but he just hasn't done them yet. When he's open, we do want him to knock the shot down. He has the green light. Rarely do we tell him not to shoot the ball when he's open. But he is capable of doing more. And like C.J., each year C.J. got better at doing that. I always bring up Klay Thompson. The fact that we played them his freshman year towards the end of the year and he only attempted 22 free throws the whole year, which shows that he was more of a catch-and-shoot guy. And he continued to evolve. The same thing will happen Donaven, but it won't be because he's evolved. He'll get back to doing what he's capable of doing. He is capable of doing other things."
(On giving green light to freshmen) "Usually whenever they can shoot they get the green light. Terrence Ross had it. C.J. had it. Donaven has it. Elston Turner had it. Yeah, he had it. The ones that can shoot. A lot of players don't understand that. ‘Coach, man, just let me play my game. Give me the green light.’ To do what? If it goes in, you got the green light. You've got it. You can't keep asking for the green light and it never goes in.
(On NCAA paying more to student-athletes) "I'm totally supportive of it. I haven't been able to sit down and really, really grasp that it's talking about, but we've been moving in that direction already. I think it's great some of the things they're able to do now."
(On being in situations when players couldn't afford things) "No doubt about it. In the past what we've had to do was try to get them extra work on the side or something, maybe a temporary job or something like that. I think it's really good to be able to do that. There was a player years ago, I was an assistant coach, it was raining - this wasn't in Seattle it was somewhere else - and it was raining and his car broke down and he didn't want to miss class. He asked if I could come and pick him up and give him a ride, and I said I can't. It's illegal. That's ridiculous. That's really ridiculous. And that had nothing to do with money, but there's some other areas that they're dealing with now that I think is very important for the kids."
(On Andrew Andrews being aggressive) "His shot selection and his decision making in the last game was as good as it's been ever. I thought he maintained his aggressiveness, but yet maintained a balance of taking good quality shots. I think that's the difference. Sometimes less is more with some guys. He simplified the game for himself I thought in the last game."
(More on Andrews) "Oh yeah. Definitely. When guys score, sometimes you even live with an occasional bad shot. It kind of comes with the package because they're going to do that because they're aggressive. But those have to be every now and then."