Here's what a somber Lorenzo Romar said after the Huskies lost, again, 78-68 to Arizona State on Sunday afternoon at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
(Opening statement) “The last few minutes of the first half and then a couple of seconds in the second half, we really did not play very good basketball. Those were some crucial times. Right under the 8-minute mark, we were up six or seven, and we gave up two easy baskets after the timeout. Those situations hurt. They really hurt. And some of the things that are happening are unacceptable. And as a group, we have two days off. We’ve got to come back the next day – we don’t play until Sunday – we’ve got to come back the next day and decide we’re going to finish this with the right approach. That’s something we have challenged our team with.”
(What’s unacceptable? Effort? Execution?) “Execution. You go into games concerned if your practices are not really sharp, there seems to be a lazy attitude amongst your group, and that hasn’t happened with us. Practices have been good. There are not many practices where we’re saying, ‘we’re just not getting it today.’ We’re getting it. And then you get into the game and there hasn’t been the carry-over for 40 minutes. It would be great for us to zone a lot so that we could keep our guys fresh with the lack of depth, but being that small, we haven’t been a very good zone team. So whether we wear out mentally, we get fatigued mentally, lose focus, whatever it is – we’ve got to find a way to correct it. We do anticipate Jernard Jarreau coming back for our next game. That’ll help with our depth and about 12 other things. But we need to make sure we play with focus and purpose.”
(Any leaders stepping up to try to fix this?) “It’s interesting. Jon Brockman was one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. I remember 2008 when we didn’t do well – we didn’t lose as many consecutive games as this, but we didn’t play very well – I just remember him being very frustrated because as great of a leader as he was, there was too much going on. And I don’t mean in terms of dysfunction within our team. It’s just hard. Our team needs to take ownership right now, not just our leaders. This is a team thing.”
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(On what he says to his team now) “We talked to our team to really figure out what it is that you individually need to do. Everybody. Look in the mirror. Myself included. All of us. And come back. I felt like our guys are going to take heed. I feel like we’ll come back and be ready to give it our all.”
(On allowing ASU to get into the paint so often) “Some of it was we didn’t do a very good job on the backboard. They’d get us spread in our rotations. We didn’t box out. Blakes had a heck of a game, but we knew he likes to drive left, and for whatever reason we continued to allow him to drive left. He was the main guy that was getting in the lane. Savon Goodman, what he was doing. They set a lot of ball screens and Tra Holder was getting in the lane, but I didn’t think he dominated the game. I thought a couple of guys made it look really, really bad.”
(On why he ripped his coat off) “I thought they hit Donaven Dorsey on the wrist on his 3-point shot.”
(You said earlier this year that players were tired of being mediocre. Do you still see that? If not, why not?) “The more you win, the more you form a belief that you can’t lose. There were two or three games in nonconference that seemed like we were dead in the water – we weren’t going to win. But because we started out successful, guys just felt, ‘there’s no way we’re going to lose this game,’ and we came back and we won those games. Now that we’re on this downturn and haven’t been able to win games here recently, doubt starts to creep in. I’ve been in situations where teams kept winning and you just really feel like you can’t lose, but then other situations where it’s almost like an alarm goes off, ‘here it is. Here’s the crossroads in the game. Here’s the time where you’re going to win it or lose it.’ The alarm goes off. And sometimes teams don’t answer that alarm. When we were 0-5 when we started in (2004), that’s how we were playing. It would come to that point, the pivotal time in the game, and we wouldn’t answer the alarm. We ended up doing it, but with this team right now, we’re not waking up to that alarm, and we’ve got to find a way. It’s a chicken before the egg deal. We’ve got to win to start believing we can win again. We’re doing what’s necessary in practice, but we’re not carrying it over to the game situation.”
(On hearing from former players about the losing streak) “Probably the same things that meant a lot to them when they played, those are the things that they see now. I won’t go into the individual conversations that I’ve had with the guys. But it definitely means something to them, and it’s good to know they’re pulling for us.”
(Is this a different kind of challenge for you right now?) “Taking over a couple of programs in the past, including this one, where they were having a tough time experiencing any type of success, and when we took over the first year, it didn’t change. Still was rough. But those teams, it was early, and even though the year went like that, there was still a focus, there was still a hope there. And with three weeks left, five games left on our schedule, we have to make sure that we can find where that hope is. But I’ve been in this situation, and teams we’ve had, a couple of times were like this, in rebuilding situations. They stuck it out. They’ve always gotten better.”
(Any positives to take from this one?) “Last game, believe it or not, there were more positives in the game against Arizona for me than tonight, actually. I thought at times, Arizona just took it to us, overpowered us at times. But I thought our effort and focus in other times in the game was great. Today, wasn’t a whole lot I took fro this game, other than (when) we come back Wednesday, we have to have a certain amount of humility to know that unless we’re all focused and all there, it’s hard to win games.”