The primary topic of coach Lorenzo Romar's meeting with the media earlier this afternoon was the return of 6-foot-10 forward Jernard Jarreau, who had surgery five weeks ago to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and hasn't played since. He's expected to play Sunday when the Huskies visit Washington State for a 5:30 p.m. game at Beasley Coliseum.
Romar said Jarreau is progressing in a way that indicates he could have a chance to start on Sunday, though he isn't sure exactly how many minutes he'll be able to play. But he certainly expects him to be available.
Here's what Romar said about Jarreau, who has been practicing without limitations since Wednesday, as well as several other topics before the Huskies play the Cougars.
(Did days off this week have desired effect?) “We’ll find out on Sunday. We can practice, we can do the right things – which I think we have – but until we go out and play a game and it transfers over into the game, we have to wait and see. But I like the progress that we made this week.
(Sounds like Jernard Jarreau has been practicing since Wednesday?) “Yes. He’s been practicing. He hasn’t had to sit out any drills. He’s been able to go.”
(How many minutes can you expect from him on Sunday?) “We’ll play that … he can get up and down the floor a couple of times, and adrenaline’s flowing and he’s completely winded – we’ll see. But I don’t know if we can put a time on it right now. He will definitely be available to play, though.”
(On impact of Jarreau’s return) “Just with him practicing this week, he’s telling guys where to go, where you should be on the floor (in) situations. He’s a facilitator on offense. You can’t measure his impact on the game by how many points he averages, or how many points he scores, because he gets so many deflections. He’ll block a shot. He knows where we’re supposed to be on the floor, offensively and defensively. He conducts himself like a veteran. So it’s hard to measure, totally, but it’s definitely a positive.”
(On Shawn Kemp Jr. being happy Jarreau is back) “Well, yeah. It helps. And for Shawn, it’s another guy who can effectively throw him the basketball. Jernard is skilled enough to make plays and get the ball to other people. He helps in a lot of ways, across the board.”
(Will Kemp and Jarreau still play together?) “There’s no doubt they’ll play together. Jernard could play with four smaller guys at some point. I don’t think there are many combinations right now that we have where Jernard can’t play with the other guys.”
(Will Jarreau start?) “He’s progressing to where he could potentially do that. We just have to, again, we have another practice today and tomorrow, and we’ll see where he is.”
(On not running as much high post without Jarreau) “We’ve had to do a lot more – in order to run the high post, someone has to be comfortable there. And again, we’ve been running high-post in segments, but we’ve been running a lot more motion with it, because we’ve been playing primarily with guards. So we’ve had to run probably 80-90 percent motion one way or another.”
(On the offense with Jarreau in it) “It helps you run more options. It helps us be more complete offensively with him in there.”
(More on Jarreau’s role) “Again, he’s so versatile, he just goes out and plays. He can play with any player combination on the floor and still have his niche. And again, I said before, I don’t want to build Jernard up to where, ‘now we’ve got Jernard back. We’re going to go undefeated and beat everybody by 30, because he’s going to average 20 and 20.’ I’m not saying that. I’m just saying you feel his absence when he’s not on the floor. You feel his absence preparing for a road game, him getting in there … there are just so many different ways across the board where statistically, you may not see it or feel it, but he helps.”
(Where did you miss him the most?) “Defensively. Because he’s a guy that can put fires out. One guy gets beat, he can help. Not necessarily with a blocked shot, but just being there, being a deterrent. A guy’s open, but his man goes to pass it and he gets a deflection because his arms are so long. Just little things like that across the board. Pointing out someone should have a certain coverage in a certain situation. ‘You need to be there,’ because he knows exactly where a guy’s going to be.”
(Will he have a cap on his minutes?) “I would think he wouldn’t. I would say self-capped, so to speak, because you can only go so long if you haven’t played. You can try to simulate game conditions in terms of your conditioning, but you can’t do it until you’re actually out there playing. So we’ll see. He may not be able to go very long because of game conditions. but that won’t last very long. He’ll get in game shape pretty quickly. Because he wasn’t out for a year, he was out for five weeks.”
(How close was he to getting back to where he wanted after the ACL surgery?) “I think he was headed that direction. There were a couple of games we played where he did a really nice job. I’m thinking of Oklahoma was one of them, where he definitely impacted that game in a lot of ways. He was getting close. And that’s the other thing – he was getting his timing from the first surgery. He’ll still be getting his timing a little bit. But Jernard with his timing off is still a plus for us.”
(On Washington State’s offense) “I think the way they’re playing, it allows a number of different players to contribute, first of all. If you don’t have the personnel to contribute, it doesn’t matter. But when you look out there, who they’re putting on the floor, (Dexter) Kernich-Drew scored 27. We know DaVonte Lacy can score 30. He has. Even Ike Iroegbu, he I think may have scored 20 in a game here, too. Que Johnson, he’s scored 20 points in a college game. And their sophomore, (Josh) Hawkinson, he’s scored 20. He’s a double-double guy. They quietly have a lot of weapons. (Brett) Boese isn’t playing as much, but he hit three 3s against us. So they’ve got four or five guys that can go out and score 20 points in game, so when you talk about developing certain weapons, they’ve done a good job of that, because they have plenty of them.”
(On not recruiting Josh Hawkinson) “We knew his dad really well, but we didn’t really recruit him that hard, to tell you the truth. I’ll be the first to tell you, we did not see him being a double-double guy his sophomore year in college. He’s done a remarkable job, and their staff has done a remarkable job with him.”
(Do you look back with regret when you don’t recruit a local player and he has success somewhere else?) “You always do that. You always think that you had that opportunity. A guy we played against, (Tyler) Harvey from Eastern Washington, who is I think leading the nation in scoring right now, he was a guy that all those schools in southern California passed on, and everyone in the Pac-12 passed on, to where he was going to go to a non-Division 1 school at some point. But he developed. There are so many guys out there – a Russell Westbrook, a guy like that, that was under-recruited and ends up being the fourth pick in the draft. And (Hawkinson’s) one of those. I think the last guy that was like that, that I remember, was Luke Sikma. And I think Luke Sikma was maybe even further along in high school than Hawkinson was. But he went on and went on to Portland and became a really good basketball player. Hat’s off to Hawkinson, because he’s something to deal with.”
(More on Hawkinson) “He can shoot the ball. He’s highly skilled, and you see a guy that is constantly getting 10, 11 rebounds a game, he’s usually pretty good. He just has a great feel for the game. He has great hands. They don’t come down and run a play for him every time. He just finds a way to get involved. Yeah, he’s a part of what they’re doing, but he’s skilled enough, good enough, smart enough to take advantage of every opportunity that he gets to put the ball in the basket.”
(On what WSU did to be successful last time against UW) “They spread us out. Jernard, that was the last game he played … he was in foul trouble, I think he played 17 minutes. But when he was out of there, we played Upshaw and Shawn Kemp together a lot, and they were able to spread us out and take advantage of one or two. Because a lot of times – I think Jordan Railey got in foul trouble, so he didn’t play very much – but they played with four perimeter guys who could all shoot and make plays, and Hawkinson. So they took advantage of that and did a good job. And I remember that being a big part of what was the difference in that game. Along with Ike Iroegbu, we just didn’t do a good job of keeping him in front of us, so he created a lot of offense for those guys.”
(Are players seeing a different side of you during this losing streak?) “I don’t know if you see a different side. I think you see what you said – different ways of trying to get us going. With the two big guys being out, we’ve gone from playing a three-out, two-in motion, to a four-out, one-in motion, to a five-man motion, five guards at one time, pressing after made baskets. We’ve been trying to tinker, trying a whole lot of different ways to get better. We’ve tried turning up the heat more with our pressure defense, and all of that in the name of trying to find a way to make this work in spite of our deficiencies. So I don’t know if our players would say, ‘Coach is completely different right now, he’s totally different’ – I think they would just see same coach, same coaching staff, but trying to find a way to cover where we’re falling short.”
(More on trying different ways to get team going) “You try a lot of different things. We’ve gone from trying to stay positive to, look, we’re calling everybody on the carpet. This is our problem. These are our issues. And to a man, we have to deal with these issues. We’ve done that. We’ve watched a lot of film as a team. We’ve tried a lot of different things.”
(This the most different tactics you’ve tried with a team?) “No question. No question. We had the injuries and illnesses last year. We went through this, unfortunately. We needed those pieces, but the players that were out maybe weren’t as impactful last year as the players that were out this year.”
(Do you talk about the losing streak?) “The number doesn’t come up as much as, ‘we’ve got to turn it around.’ We have to do the things that are necessary, and this is why we’ve not been as successful. Let’s point these reasons out. Let’s show them, and let’s deal with them, and let’s do a better job in these areas, as opposed to just, ‘the streak.’”
(Do you agree with some coaches and analysts who say young basketball players don’t learn how to shoot as well anymore?) “I don’t know if that’s true. I think the mid-range game, when we talk about that, I don’t think that’s being taught. And I think statistical analysis would show you that’s a low-percentage shot, but I believe there’s a reason it’s a low-percentage shot, because kids don’t work on it as much anymore. They watch SportsCenter and they see dunks and 3. That’s what they see. They don’t see many midrange pull-ups, and maybe that’s not as exciting. But they certainly have their share of personal trainers, and you would think they would teach them to shoot, because everyone has a personal trainer nowadays. And with the game being so important to make baskets, you would think there’s been a lot of attention paid to that and a lot of time taken to show that.”
(In regards to Kobe Bryant’s comments a while back, do you think the way basketball is taught at the AAU level is hurting the game?) “I don’t know if kids have a love and a passion for the game as a whole as kids in the past have had. I think a lot of kids now play for the accolades and ‘how quick can I get to the league,’ and I don’t know if it’s just a pure passion, for the love of basketball. Yes, kids have that today, so a kid can say, ‘well, I’ve got it!’ Yeah, but not as many as in years past. There were a lot of kids in years past that played for the love of the game. ‘I love this game. This is so much fun. I enjoy this so much. Every free moment I have, I’m going to play this game.’ And consequently, you work on shooting. You work on all facets of the game to be the best that you can be. But if you’re playing for other reasons than just the love of the game, then maybe you don’t work on all of those things or spend as much time with it.”
(On the discussion about making freshmen ineligible in college athletics) “Why do you think there’s talk about that?”
(Likely because of the financial component) “The whole NBA thing, getting there as quickly as you can, I think has people really considering, let’s make them wait. I may even have talked to you briefly about this – with what they’re doing over at Kentucky, where they have their own so-called combine – I think what will happen is (if) kids are not eligible their freshman year, it has a lot to do with trying to slow them down for the NBA. Well, NBA people will just come to practice and watch, and they’ll draft them anyway, where they may not ever play in college if they’re ineligible their first year. So I don’t know how much that would help. It certainly changes a mindset if we’re able to do that and they sit out their freshman year, then they come in and they’re still going to say they’re one-and-done, because the freshman year didn’t count, because they sat out. It would be interesting. I think it would really help the kids. I really do. Because they wouldn’t have one foot in and one out. These are some of the reasons – academically, you become adjusted without the pressure of having to perform. On the basketball floor, without the pressure of, ‘man, I’m not getting my numbers, and my parents are driving me crazy, and my AAU coaches are driving me crazy, (saying) ‘why don’t you shoot the ball more, and look, if you’re going to get to the league, you’re going to have to have better numbers.’’ For a year, you don’t have to deal with any of that stuff. All-around, for the mental psyche of the kid, the student-athlete, I think it helps for a year. It helps you get a little more well-adjusted.”