Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar spoke with reporters for a few minutes after his postgame press conference following Washington’s 83-77 loss to Oregon in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament on Thursday afternoon. He said UW will be receptive to an NIT bid should it receive one -- and that seems a strong possibility -- but lamented that UW couldn’t win enough close games this season to make the NCAA tournament.
(On why he enjoyed coaching this team so much) “This group, they’re just right. This group is right. They try to do the right thing. They want to please, and when you have a group like that, you want them to be rewarded. You want to see them reach their dreams. And when a guy’s main dream is to get to the NCAA tournament this year, and when you have a special group like this and it doesn’t happen, it hurts. It hurts to see them go through that.”
(On feeling bad for Andrew Andrews) “That’s part of it. We walked to the locker room and I saw him sitting alone by himself, and it just kind of hit. Because he busted his tail. No one thought Andrew Andrews would do what he did this year. And he gave it all he had. I know how bad he wanted it.”
(On one area where he wishes UW could have been a little better) “Obviously, on the offensive boards. But with that being said, you guys know in sports, it’s a matter of inches. The ball doesn’t go in at Oregon State, we don’t give up a six-point lead at Oregon State, we make free throws in another game, we hit a shot in another game, we’re talking a different story here. We were just so close. When I look back, given the roster that we had, the newness of our group, they weren’t a bunch of fifth-year seniors, they weren’t a bunch of JUCO transfers. These were a lot of freshman. When you look back and say, ‘if we could have been better in this area,’ I thought we got better in a lot of areas. I told our team, I wish we had 10 more games right now. Because now the way we’re playing is a whole lot better – I think we’ve been playing a whole lot better the last few weeks.”
(On not being able to look forward to next season due to uncertainty surrounding Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss’ NBA prospects) “I think we have a group of guys – guys coming in, guys sitting out, guys that will have more experience. We’ll wait and see what happens with all of that, but I like our group.”
(On this being the kind of team that could get excited to play in the NIT) “Today is not fun. Tomorrow won’t be fun. But if our name is called on Sunday to go play, then we’ll get excited about it. Just like I’m always asked, ‘do you guys think you’ll be able to overcome this last defeat?’ Guys have always raised up. This group enjoys playing, so we’ll enjoy playing again.”
(If Murray and Chriss do come back, what do you think next year’s team might be capable of?) “Having a lot of fun. That’s what I would say.”
And here is what Romar, Andrews and Chriss said at the postgame press conference.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement, please.
COACH ROMAR: Oregon obviously is a very -- have been very successful this year, and they can beat you in a lot of different ways. In our case tonight, they did a great job on the backboard, second-chance points, penetration. Sometimes we go over to help, and especially Boucher, I think he had seven offensive rebounds, and in a game that close, that can certainly make a difference.
I thought we did a very good job of taking care of the ball in the first half. Second half we didn't do as good a job and they capitalized. Again, I say that to show you why Oregon, just, when you make mistakes, they can make you pay for it.
There is no other team I'd want to coach than this team, though, our team. Just hate to see our guys come up short.
Q. Lorenzo, do you turn your attention to the NIT now? Do you expect to be selected there?
COACH ROMAR: Well, I mean, at this point I think we have to wait and see what happens on Sunday. But regardless of the situation, I wouldn't think we're done playing basketball this year.
Q. Marquese, what makes Boucher so tough to handle in the paint?
MARQUESE CHRISS: I mean, he's long and he can jump for a big man, so I think that kind of plays to his advantage. If he's sitting around the rim, he kind of sticks his arms up when he's up at the rim. So I think that helps him out a lot. We've got to have some better boxouts and get him away from the rim so that it plays to our advantage.
Q. This might be a premature question, because, like you said, you're probably still going to be playing basketball. But when you look back on the season, you're obviously emotional right now, do you look at this as a success? Do you look at it as coming up short? Is it somewhere in between? How would you evaluate it?
COACH ROMAR: When you lose your last game, you always come up short regardless of how far you went. It just depends on what you're looking at. I know a lot of people didn't expect us to do what we did this year. I thought we probably surpassed a lot of people's expectations. In terms of our own expectations, we felt we could go a little bit further than we did.
But it wasn't due to a lack of trying and selling out for the cause of what we wanted to do. I told our team many times how proud I am of our group. But you look back, we didn't get it done, bottom line. But we probably are literally three baskets, either we made them or somebody else made them or we didn't make them, they didn't, probably we'd be in a little better shape than we are now. So we're close, but it doesn't count.
ANDREW ANDREWS: I think at the beginning of the season me and Coach Romar went down to the Pac-12 and all we kept hearing is rebuilding year, rebuilding year, rebuilding year from the coaches poll and the media poll. They picked us 11th. I think we tied for 6th this year.
We went through the ups and downs of the season with the media switching their minds saying we're really good, and then the media going back and saying we're really bad. Then we started playing well again and they said we're really good. So in our locker room we don't take this as a failure. I think we shocked a lot of people and did things people said we couldn't, especially with pretty much an all freshman team.
So to look at this season as a failure would be kind of dumb on our part. So you just take everything and learn from it. We had an incredible season. I said, we beat all the odds as far as what the media thought and what the coaches poll thought. So I couldn't be prouder of the guys in this locker room.
Q. How disappointing is it to know that your career's going to end without an NCAA Tournament appearance? And as far as the NIT goes, do you look forward to continuing to play and do you want to keep playing with these guys?
ANDREW ANDREWS: As far as the NCAA Tournament, it happens. It happens. I don't know any basketball player in the world that would say they don't want to continue playing basketball. I think anytime you get an opportunity to put on a jersey and go out anywhere, even if it's the park, to play the game that you love, you're going to take that opportunity. So I would love to play in the NIT.