Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters this morning to preview the Super Bo -- err, Washington's 12 p.m. game tomorrow against California. Here's everything he said, including a story involving Tyreese Breshers.
(Practices the last few days?) “It’s been good. I think we’ve made some progress. I think we’ve been able to just work on some things that allow us to compete, with the personnel situation that we have – compete better.”
(Where are you right now? Completely starting over? Just making some changes?) “I would say not starting over. Last year, as I said, we really, literally started over on the defensive end. I wouldn’t say we started over (now). What was very interesting is, with the personnel that we have now, we had gradually begun to defend a different way because of what we had. And as a result, there was slippage in other areas. But it didn’t hurt as much. But now in the last couple of days of practice, we’ve been able to address those and help our team recognize those, and I think, not counting a big shot blocker back there, right now I think we have a better defensive awareness as a group than we had before. Because we’re forced to have that awareness. Not that we didn’t have an awareness before. We just did it a different way. A lot of stuff was funneled to the basket in some regard, and we were OK. But that can’t be the case now, and I think our guys recognize it.”
(On breakdowns the first time vs. Cal) “The second half was the issue. The first half, we did OK defensively. But the second half – one was Jordan Mathews got going. That was one. The game was close. And he would hit a shot – right as we were about to tie it up or had it tied up, he would come down and hit a shot. They’d go up three, four, we’d make another run where it’s tied up again, he’d hit another shot. He hit some big baskets for them. But we did not do a very good job of coming up with loose balls, I thought, in the second half, which they converted (into) some garbage points. And then we didn’t do a good job of keeping them out of the paint. There was too much penetration allowed in the second half. The combination of those three allowed them to shoot pretty good in the second half.”
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(On keeping guys positive) “It becomes a full-time job. Kids are pretty resilient. I’ve noticed as we can’t sleep as coaches and we’re up all night, they (players) get over it. They come back. But what happens is, it begins to wear you down mentally, where you know you don’t have your so-called studs right there behind you. Just subconsciously. So you constantly have to keep bringing forth the message that we can make this work, and let them see that hey, us coaches, we’re still trying to work to get better at this, trying to resolve this whole thing. We have to continue to stay on them about putting forth their best effort. And it’s a full-time job to keep that going.”
(On playing five guards at once) “I think the smaller lineup gave us something the other night. I don’t think you can play 40 minutes that way, or 30 minutes that way, but I think there are definitely spots in the game where you can use it.”
(Did you look back at what worked when you did that during Brandon Roy era?) “No, we didn’t. We talked about some other things, but we didn’t really look at that group, because the makeup of that group was so different. You actually did not have to tweak a whole lot, because when you’re talking about Brandon Roy and Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons and Will Conroy and Bobby Jones, those five, you put those guys out there, they’re going to make plays. And they were able to make it within our structure – we had a certain structure that still was versatile enough to be able to play with that type of group, and guys still knew where they were supposed to go. All five of those guys could score. We don’t have all five guys that can score at that level with this group, so we couldn’t quite do it that way. But we’ve been working on some things.”
(Expecting different atmosphere tomorrow with Seahawks in the Super Bowl?) “I don’t know what to expect. That definitely probably is something way off in terms of what we’ve got to think about, because we’ve got to play well tomorrow, ourselves. But I have no idea what it will be like.”
(Would you prefer to not play on Super Bowl Sunday?) “Probably would be better if we didn’t, if it was at home. If it was on the road, it would be great. Or if it were the Miami Dolphins and somebody else not the Seahawks. But I’m a Seahawks fan, so I’m excited we’re in the Super Bowl.”
(Any plans to watch it?) “I don’t really have … 12 o’clock we play tomorrow, and that’s about the extent of my plans tomorrow. Game goes well, we’ll probably plan something after the game.”
(How important is it for Shawn Kemp Jr. to give you something every game now?) “Very important. And we have to go to Shawn. We can’t expect Shawn to go out there and attempt to defend, attempt to rebound and do all this, and not get the basketball. We’ve got to make sure we get him the basketball so he can make plays.”
(What does he do best?) “Finish around the rim, and run the floor. He’s pretty strong around that basket. He’s gotten to where he’s pretty confident around there, and if he catches it down there with an angle, he’s pretty tough to deal with. And then he just really runs the floor well.”
(What does he need to improve?) “I think we all know he could still stand to become a better rebounder.”
(How hard is it to learn to become a better rebounder?) “Well, we’re talking offensive rebounding and defensive rebounding. They’re entirely two different things. Some guys are very good defensive rebounders, because they’re long, because they anticipate where the ball’s coming off. They go get it. They rebound outside of their area on the defensive end. But on the offensive end, it’s a mindset. You live to rebound, almost. There are some guys, they recognize, they see their teammates, they see their teammates stepping into their shot, and when their teammate is here (ready to shoot), they’re looking at the guy they’re playing against, finding out where he is, so I can pick an angle to get past him, and then read where the ball is going. I tell the story quite often, you guys remember Tyreese Breshers, who was a very good rebounder for his size. And when he was a freshman, he was playing against Jon Brockman, and Jon Brockman kept telling me on the side, he said ‘coach, Breshers is a load to keep off the boards.’ I said, ‘yeah, I know it, I know it.’ He said, ‘I don’t let him tell this, but there are times I can’t do anything with him if he decides to go.’ And this one particular play, Tyreese was on the left side of the wing area, probably about 10 feet out, and Jon was guarding him, and the shot goes up, and when Tyreese saw it, he immediately tries to get by Jon going to the baseline side. When he saw, he starts to go, he sees the arc of the ball, and he realizes the ball is going to come and bounce back. So Tyreese sees that, as Jon goes to box him out, he does it again and comes back to the middle, gets it and lays it up. And Jon literally looked over at me and went (shrug), like, ‘you see what I mean?’ That’s instinct. That’s having a nose for the ball. The best offensive rebounders have that. I think it’s easier to be a good defensive rebounder than it is to be a good offensive rebounder, because defensive rebounding doesn’t take as much instincts. But you’ve got to be able to box out. What Shawn does sometimes, is he does a great job of boxing out, but then doesn’t go get the ball. And we’ve coached guys before that were horrible at boxing out, but they’d go get to that ball before you would. They just had the ability to go get it. Rebounding is not simple. There is a lot that goes into being a good rebounder. But the No. 1 thing would be your mindset – just, ‘I’m going to go get the ball.’”
(On telling guards to rebound more) "Yeah. We told our guys from Day 1, everybody has to try to get one more rebound a game. Everybody. Not two guys. Everyone. Try to go get you one more. We just lost eight. The thing is, our second-best rebounder was Jernard (Jarreau). You talk about per minute. We always talk about rebounds per game don't tell the story. Rebounds per minute tell the story. And Jernard was second. Mike Anderson is third in terms of minutes - guys that have had quality minutes. So you get Robert and Jernard out, both of them are gone, your two best. Boy a lot of our guys have got to step up and help.
(On Mike Anderson scoring against Stanford) "We want Mike to take advantage of his opportunities. Mike doesn't have to be a guy that now we're running every play for him and we expect him to score 25. Just take advantage of your opportunities and he gets opportunities that he turns down. And we get on him all the time. You have to go because you're good enough to go and make these plays. And when he gets his opportunities, take a good shot and take care of the basketball. If he does that offensively he will help us out a whole lot.
(On Quevyn Winters and Darin Johnson scoring off the bench) "It's a whole different team. When we have multiple guys - and again no one has to go out and have their best game of the year or get in a zone - make your open opportunities. Make your open opportunities. When we do that as a team, our team rises to another level when we do that."
(On rebounding versus transition offense) "It's still a mindset. Lute Olson would tease me about, he'd say we would send five guys - which we never did - once in awhile it would happen that way. He said he thought we sent five guys to the boards. So in their scout when they were preparing for us he'd say a couple of you guys can leak out. Check your man a little bit, but you might be able to leak out because they're sending five to the boards. He said the problem was, we'd send five, but when you try to beat us down the floor, we were back. Now because our team was so quick at the time - that was '05 - our team was very quick and we could do that. Nate Robinson was one that really could go to the board and still get back. He was quick enough. So we would do that. We would attack the glass like that, but we had a mindset to get back. Our team right now is not as quick as that team, but you can still five guys can go get a defensive rebound and then sprint down the floor the other way and you can still get out there and spread the floor and play up-tempo. It's a mindset."
(On running the high post) "We still have it there. It's a matter of what we're facing and now a team is defending us. If a team is defending us a certain way, then we may spread the floor and do something different. We may set more ball screens."
(On using the 2-3 zone) "We probably won't play as much zone. Before, again the zone allowed two guys that were playing - Robert Upshaw and Shawn Kemp Jr. - because they were both playing so well, you wanted them both on the floor. And if you played man to man, it was difficult for both of them to play. But when we played zone, it allowed them to play and it allowed more guys - with Jernard going down - guys staying in the game longer without getting tired. So now it's kind of the opposite where we can't sit back as much."
(On Jarreau) "He is just starting to get on the treadmill I believe. Starting to jog and those types of things."
(On Jarreau's timetable) "It's still 4-6 weeks. ... When he first had his surgery, I think they talked about 4-6 weeks and it's the same.”
(On Jarreau's return in February) "Yes. Yes, hopefully. That would help us a lot.”
(On Stanford) "I can't say wasn't much of a factor, but they're just playing so much better now it's the Stanford team we just played. When you look back at Stanford's conference season right now, they've lost - I think I talked about this last time - they've lost two games. One of those games was to Arizona. And the other one was they had the game won and a 90-percent free throw shooter (Chasson) Randle missed two free throws at the end of the game at UCLA. If not, they're tied for first. They've been pretty consistent now. With those three shot makers (Stefan) Nastic, Randle and (Anthony) Brown and the experience that they have. They can make baskets. They have experience. They have good size. And they're getting Reid Travis back. I think they're a team that's kind of playing well and making a move right now."
(On California) "Jabari Bird didn't play last time. He hadn't hit his stride yet. When we played Cal, (Tyrone) Wallace had been player of the week twice, I think in the Pac-12. Since we played them and even in our game I think he was 4 for 20 - and he had a few of those games - well he broke out last game at Washington State and he scored well and got back to playing the way he was playing earlier. So that makes a difference. And they've changed a little bit (Dwight) Tarwarter is starting now where before he was coming off the bench. They've made some changes that way. So they're a little bit different team then when we played them before."