Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters this morning to preview Washington’s 5:30 p.m. Sunday game against Utah at Hec Edmundson Pavilion (ESPNU). Here is everything he said.
(On Utah’s win over Washington State) “Utah played really well. Utah played with a little bit of a renewed energy, it appeared.”
(On Utah’s team this season) “Utah is well, well-coached. Larry (Krystkowiak) does a great job, him and his staff, and they have a system, they have a foundation, and they’re so well-drilled in it that they don’t have to change a lot. I don’t think they looked at – they had dropped a couple, now (they’ve) got to change the entire system. They’re not going to do that. It’s been too effective for them. So they did what they do. They played very good defense, they take care of the basketball, they play together, they share the basketball and (Jakob) Poeltl is just big-time down in the paint, and they’ve got a number of players around him who can make baskets.”
(Do they go to Poeltl the same way Colorado goes to Josh Scott?) “Similar that way, and rightfully so. Those are two of the better big guys in the country.”
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(Are they still as tough and disciplined defensively as when they had Delon Wright last year?) “See, to me, when you say tough, disciplined, and then Delon Wright – I don’t know if Delon Wright made them disciplined. Delon Wright was the guy that could make that defensive play. He’s a guy that could put out fires, a little like Malik Dime for us, although they’re different positions. The defense can get broken down, and Malik Dime can cover it up. A guy like Matisse Thybulle, he can cover up mistakes for others. And Delon Wright was quite a bit like that. But whenever we’ve faced Utah, they’ve always been solid defensively, and they’re not easy to score on.”
(Any of their newcomers impress you?) “(Lorenzo) Bonam. He’s very impressive. Their guard.”
(On what they did well against WSU) “Executing their defense. When Utah is playing defense the way they’re capable of, you just change the labels of the name – OK, take Washington State and put Oregon. Take Oregon out and put Arizona. And they’ve been able to contain their top scorers over the years. That’s kind of been a staple for the Utah defensive system. And it’s nothing unique – they just gameplan really well and have a good system and a good foundation.”
(How is Devenir Duruisseau progressing from his concussion?) “Progressing very well. There’s a good chance he could be available for this game.”
(What do you remember from last season’s upset of Utah in the regular season finale?) “That we were mixing and matching as best we could. A lot of smoke and mirrors. Guys were playing in that game that hadn’t played a lot earlier in the year. Guys came together and somehow we were able to figure it out.”
(On Poeltl’s game against UW last year) “That particular game, we decided if he went out and got 20 points against us, we were going to live with that, but we were going to try to limit others’ production. The second half, he just didn’t score it as much. But that’s what I remember in that game.”
(On Marquese Chriss seeing a sports psychologist to help control his emotions) “It’s just something that hadn’t been checked over the years. Something that maybe he didn’t see the need – like, OK, yeah, I may get distracted here or there, but I’m OK. And I think here, once he started playing, he saw he maybe needed to pay a little more attention to it. So he did, and he went out and did something about it and got some help. He’s been a lot better.”
(On how Chriss has progressed that way) “He may react to a certain situation, to an adverse situation, but then he comes right back quicker, whereas before, maybe it would take a longer time to get back dialed in. now he’s a lot quicker.”
(Can that help with his foul trouble?) “Sure it does. One of the sayings we say – you’ve got to be able to turn the page. And it’s not just Marquese. That’s with a lot of players. There are so many players that struggle with that, that they make a mistake and they get down on themselves. Now they make three mistakes in the next possession because they’re still thinking about that one. Guys dwell on that so much. It’s a problem for a lot of kids. A lot of kids. Not just on our team, but other teams, you can watch. It’s really good when you find someone who’s just tough-minded and as badly as they want to do the right thing, they go on to the next play.”
(On learning from the good first half/bad second half at Arizona) “There’s been so much learning for this team, from checking into the hotel, being on time for training camp earlier in the year in October. That was a learning experience for some guys. Just piece by piece, we’re learning a lot. We travel and go to China to play against Texas, we go back and play in the Bahamas. Knowing how to take care of yourselves and play in the next game. There have been learning experiences all the way through. Now, the latest one that you mention, I think that tale of two halves in that game was a learning experience. In the first half against Arizona, we were dialed in, we were playing with confidence defensively and we were doing OK. Defensively, in the second half, we got distracted. The ball wasn’t going in, and we allowed that to get to us, and you can’t do that with a team like Arizona. They’ll totally expose you, like they did that night. So I didn’t think we had to look to the next game to learn. There was a great sample size right there in that game, one half to the next. So I think what was really good for us was to come out and play well against Arizona State, the next game after Arizona, because I think that kind of stamped in our minds what we’re capable of, if we’re really locked in.”
(Is now an important time to remind players not to play with ‘cool jackets’ on?) “It is, but I can guarantee you, two weeks from now, you could ask me that same question about whatever situation we’re in. It’s critical, period. Today’s practice is critical. And that’s not coach speak, just, that’s what I’m supposed to say. (If) we come out here and practice like we’ve arrived … like, yesterday we practiced great. If we come out here and just go through the motions, we’ve messed up. It’s critical. Every time we step on the floor, our attitude, our approach is very critical. Win or lose tomorrow, next week we’re going to go to L.A. and there’s going to be something critical there. so we have to take on that attitude, that personality that we can rest when the season is over. Right now, mentally, we’ve got to be locked in, and everything is critical for us.”