Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar declined to offer any specifics on the dismissal of star center Robert Upshaw, saying again that he didn't want to comment on the circumstances that led to the decision.
But he did offer some thoughts on how Upshaw's departure will impact the Huskies going forward, and expressed disappointment that the Huskies and Upshaw couldn't make it work.
"Any time it doesn’t work out with a part of your family, you’re disappointed. There’s no doubt," Romar said. "I do know where things were when he first came, and I know where things are now. Even though it didn’t work out here, I still think he grew a lot while he was here, and that’s really important.”
Later, Romar added: "I think you always try to go to whatever length possible, if someone is wanting it, to try to help someone get to the finish line, and sometimes, like in this case, it just came to a point where it didn’t seem like that was going to happen.”
Romar said the Huskies will obviously miss Upshaw the most on defense, where he set a school record by blocking 84 shots in 19 games. They'll miss his 8.3 rebounds per game, too.
Donaven Dorsey, a 6-foot-7 freshman guard from Timberline High in Lacey, will step into the starting lineup along with Nigel Williams-Goss, Andrew Andrews, Mike Anderson and Shawn Kemp Jr.
Here's the full transcript of Romar's comments, which includes more thoughts on Upshaw's potential in the future.
(On why Upshaw isn't with the team?) "We sent out the release yesterday. You know what I'm going to say. All of my comments about that were in the release. I'm not going to talk about it further at this point."
(On if it was a surprise) "I'm not going to comment on it. I apologize in advance. If you ask me 60 times, I'm going to tell you I have no comment. So I'm not going to comment on it much."
(On Upshaw's loss impacting UW) "I can comment on that. You go out and you build your defense around knowing he's in there. We have to readjust a little bit with him being out of there. It'll impact us mostly on the defensive end."
(On if it feels like last season when UW was thin on the front line) "Not that drastic a change. We won't have to make that drastic a change as we did last year."
(On if Upshaw's loss changes UW's identity) "Offensively I think it may, whereas defensively we have to make some adjustments - I think offensively, because you can't replace what he does and what he did protecting the rim, but I think our spacing can become better. I think the floor can open up a little more."
(On playing zone) "We'll play a lot of zone, yeah. We definitely have a depth issue now more than before. I didn't think we had a total depth issue before in terms of playing guys if everybody stayed healthy. But now we can't afford for guys to foul out or get in foul trouble."
(On ever having a situation like this as a head coach) "No."
(On how he handles things) "If you coach long enough you're going to run into a lot of different situations and scenarios. This is one that's been different. Chalk up another one for experience. Now we've been involved in a situation that's kind of uncharted waters now. But yeah, over the years we've seen a lot of different scenarios and this one has been a little different."
(On being disappointed) "Any time it doesn't work out with part of your family, you're s disappointed. There's no doubt. But I do know where things were when he first came. And I know where things are now. Even though it didn't work out here, I still think that he grew a lot while he was here. And that's really important."
(On if Upshaw can play in NBA next season) "I could see him, I think, I said many, many times off the floor, Rob needs to take care of business. In the spring and summer I said that quite a bit. And I say the same thing. If he takes care of business, he can be whatever he wants to be. He's a smart guy. He's talented. Not just as a basketball player. He's talented."
(On last season's discipline of Upshaw being essentially a suspension) "Let's just say it was a situation where both of us where we just had to work through this. And we had to set some boundaries - some structure for him."
(On relying more on Shawn Kemp Jr.) "Obviously, Shawn has stepped up this year. We have to help Shawn find it within himself - I say we have to help Shawn. He's not just out there on an island like, 'OK, you better perform now.' We're all going to help Shawn to step up even more. But it's not just Shawn. If you're averaging two rebounds a game as a guard, now maybe we need you to average three. We need everyone to step up in Robert's absence and just be a little bit better. Sometimes there's somebody who's been waiting in the wings to get their opportunity. They finally get it and they never look back. Sometimes that happens. Hopefully something like that can happen here, but not just Shawn every guy on this team has to step up and give us a little more. Find a way to give us a little more."
(On Donaven Dorsey starting) "Yes, Donaven will be a starter."
(On if he'll play power forward) "We have four guards. We have Shawn and then four guards. That's how we'll play."
(On being changing on the fly like last year) "Not as much. They'll be a little of that depending on how a game goes, but if we had a full complement of players and something bizarre happens in the game and 4-5 guys foul out, there will be some on the fly stuff going on then. But in terms of what do we do now, we got to totally revamp everything we're doing like we did last year - we won't have to do that. We won't have to do that."
(On Upshaw's future plans) "Whatever he decides, we will be right there trying to help him."
(On Upshaw's plans) "He's not told us. This just happened pretty quick. He's not told us exactly what he's going to do."
(On the dismissal policy) "I think you always try to go to whatever length possible, if someone is wanting it, to try to help someone get to the finish line. And sometimes like in this case, it just came to a point where it didn't seem like that was going to happen."
(On Dorsey) "He's in better condition. He's in better shape. I mentioned he got a dunk in a game because he sprinted to the passing line and got it there. He hit a three when we were in our last - I want to say - our last home game against Oregon. He ran ahead of the pack. Spotted up and got a three. He's been able to get to the board more to rebound more. In the last two games he's getting a rebound every four minutes. In the last two games, which is very good. His conditioning has allowed him to be a little more active on the floor and a little more versatile."
(On Dorsey's expectations now that he's a starter) "To continue to rebound, to continue to be more versatile offensively. In a couple of instances, he has driven the close out, meaning that the guy has come out to attack him (and) he's driven by the guy. Hadn't quite completed the play yet, but he's capable of doing those things. We'll probably see more of that."
(On maybe a competition between Darin Johnson and Dorsey for starting spot) "You know I think Donaven has a good feel to be able to go back and forth. In college basketball if you look around the country there's a lot of teams that play with four skilled guys. It's not always four guards. Four skilled guys. Stanford and Rosco Allen, a guy that we're getting ready to play against. He's a skilled guy. He's 6-8, 6-9, but he's a skilled guy. He can drive around you. He can shoot the three. A lot of teams are playing with those guys. But when you talk to coaches, if you're going to call a position a 3 or a 4, it's difficult for a lot of guys - I'd say most guys - to learn the four position and the three position and be effective in both. Most of the times, it's much easier to just learn one. Last year with Mike Anderson and everybody went down and he had to when we went with four guards, he had to learn different responsibilities. It was tough for him at first because he had learned one position and now he had to do it a different way and then go back. It's just difficult. Donaven is probably best suited on our team to be able to do that."
(On Gilles Dierickx possibly getting more minutes now) “He will get his opportunity, no doubt.”
(On how he’s improved) “Remember, he was out. He had that boot, and he was out. Now, he’s getting his timing back a little bit. We would definitely need him to rebound the basketball. We definitely need him to do that. G is somewhat a facilitator on offense. He really understands our offense. He understands spacing in terms of handling the basketball. He can get the ball from point A to point B when it needs to be done. So those are some things that we’d be looking for him to do.”
(Is he a skilled big?) “I would say he’s fairly skilled, but what I’m talking about … I don’t even know if I used the word ‘skilled big.’ I said four skill guys. So, Kevin Durant seems like he’s 6-11 ½ when you stand next to him. It’s ridiculous that he does all that stuff at that height. Going off on a tangent. He is a skill player. He’s not a skilled big. He is a skilled tall guy. He’s skilled. He’s different. I’m just trying to think … Tim Duncan is very skilled, but he’s not going to play on the perimeter and drive by people. That’s the difference to me. G is not the guy who’s going to catch it on the wing and drive by you and make a play.”
(Can he extend his game to the perimeter?) “He can step outside and knock a shot down. You didn’t see his dribble-drive to the basket when we played Oregon? From the elbow? I think he kind of faked a guy, too, and laid it up. It was kind of smooth. So he showed his skill a little bit right there.”
(On defending Chasson Randle) “He’s kind of had his way with us the last two times we’ve played them. Definitely when we played them there last year. And then this year in the second half, he got going. I thought we did a pretty good job on him early. But he got going in the second half. So we definitely have to make him a focal point. Everyone that plays them says the same thing. He’s leading the league in scoring. So it’s not easy. But we said the same thing about Joseph Young going into the game. I thought those were two of the guys in our league that can just go get you a bucket. Play whatever defense you want to play, give them the ball and get out of their way. They can just go score for you. There are not a lot of guys like that. Randle is one of those.”
(On how losing Upshaw affects the defense) “We’ll still play zone. We’ll play man to man, as well, but we have to really, really make sure we’re concentrating on containing the basketball and not allowing people to get to the rim. I think subconsciously sometimes we’ve felt like ‘I’m here, I’m here, but if I do get beat, we’ve got a big shot blocker back there.’ We have to contain the ball as if there’s no one back there, even though there will be.”
(How does losing Upshaw change your team is capable of, in terms of making the NCAA tournament?) “We’ll find out, because like I said, offensively we could possibly look a little different. I think we will. We’ll see how much that takes us. His rebounding and his shot-blocking was something that is going to be hard to replace. But like I said, everybody has to be able to step up and contribute a little bit. I’ll be able to tell you that more after a few games, probably.”
(On how the team might respond emotionally) “I think that would probably be more of a concern than anything, just emotionally, the ability to come back and bounce back, and go out there and really believe that you can do it without a big gun that was gone.”
(Have you had a chance to meet with them?) “We talked and met, but today, again, this is 24 hours later. We’ll get a better understanding how we go out there and practice today. If guys are flying around, enthusiastic and all, then (thumbs up). But this is a short turnaround from that. This is a deal where if we weren’t playing them until Saturday or Sunday, it would probably be a good thing at this point. But that’s not how the schedule is lined up right now.”
(Some coaches like playing right after a big loss …) “This is different, because sometimes a loss, sometimes the kids view it like a video game. Just start over and we’re good. But in this situation, you can’t just necessarily start over the way you had before. It is a little different. So when you lose a game, you think, ah, we blew it, we’ll get this right, we can handle this. So that’s where we have to make sure that we still have a firm belief that we can go out and be successful.”
(What lesson to you take from first Stanford game?) “That we have to take care of the basketball. In that particular game. We need to make sure we take care of the basketball. Giving up 27 points on 19 turnovers, then you go into overtime and lose – that’s a big statement right there. So, got to take care of the ball.”
(Has scout changed on Stanford since then?) “The two Allens didn’t have the same role that they have now. Rosco Allen is coming off the bench. And he missed some free throws in our game, but he did hurt us at times. He was very active. Really active out there. and then the guard, Marcus Allen, he brings a lot of energy. He’s a little bit for them like when Venoy Overton would come into the game with us. All of a sudden, the defense just picks up like that. That’s how he is. But he’s in the starting lineup now. So he gives them a little better defensive look.
(Does this make you reconsider taking transfers, or guys with baggage in the future?) “When you say transfer vs. baggage, taking someone on in general with baggage is not something we normally do. We’ve taken Jamaal Williams, who was a transfer, who was great for us. Ryan Appleby, great for us. So we’ve taken some transfers over the years that ended up working out pretty good. We are not usually in the business of taking on guys with a lot of baggage.”
(On changing recruiting philosophy to taking guys who will commit early, and how that ties in …) “It wasn’t due to baggage, though. I’m sorry – there was a particular young man that had a troubled past. Yeah, I forgot about that. But he never really made it to practice. So other guys that have not worked out, a lot of times they were concerned they weren’t going to play as much, that type of thing.”
(More on the idea of taking players with baggage) “Like I said, in 13 years, there’s not a long history of that, No. 1. No. 2, I could give you a laundry list of those who wanted to come here with baggage that we didn’t take. I can give you a long list of those guys that we’ve said, nope, don’t think we can do it.”
(What made you want to take a chance on Upshaw?) “You have spent time interviewing him. You’ve spent time around him. You’ve seen what he’s like. He’s engaging. He’s intelligent. There were some signs that maybe he could work through some things. And we decided to take the risk.”
(Does that make it more frustrating? We see a guy who you would never guess has been in trouble) “Right, right. Yeah, almost like a tease, a little bit. Frustrating at points. There are people that when they were younger, made some decisions that weren’t very wise. And the cameras weren’t there, though. And later on they went on to be very productive. And they go on later and maybe things get worse before they get better, but in that moment, when maybe they get worse, all of the advice, all of the people that came to them and tried to help them over a period of time, sometimes it all comes back to you, and then all of a sudden it makes sense. And then now, not only are they better off, but now they’re helping a lot of other people, because they learned from their mistakes. I’m just hopeful that can happen.”
(Do you have high hopes that he can figure it out?) “I would be, like, the most excited. But there are a lot of people that have been around him that would be fired up, if that went on and he just continued to go that way.”
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple