Huskies Insider Blog

UW hoops: Lorenzo Romar previews Oakland, talks defense, Dawg Pack, Malik Dime, other stuff

Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters earlier this afternoon to preview UW’s 1:30 p.m. Saturday game against Oakland at Hec Edmundson Pavilion (as well as a few other topics). Here is most of what Romar said.

(Relieved that finals are over?) “Oh, yeah. It’s not just that, it’s for the guys, you’re cramming. There’s a little stress there. you want to get good grades, and yet you’re doing the basketball thing. but when it’s over, there’s definitely a sigh of relief, that now you can concentrate on just one thing – for a little while. We’re back at it in a couple weeks.”

(Recovering from finals?) “I felt that yesterday was the first day that we started to recover a little bit. I think most people’s finals were done yesterday, or Wednesday. Yesterday you could see finally we were coming back. But the first couple days, yeah, minds were fried a little bit.”

(Starting to sense conference play coming up?) “I think so. You get around Christmastime like it is now, I think our guys are starting to sense it a little bit. But for Andrew and Donaven, they sense it more because they’ve been through it before. This is different for a lot of guys. This is new.”

(Are you ready for it?) “To start conference today? I’m glad we have a couple weeks to go before we start.”

(Will you handle the holiday break differently this year? Last season you didn’t seem happy with how the team came back from it) “I won’t say we’ll handle it differently. We’ll talk about some things with our team, the importance of team, and we’ve been here, last year was our 13th team, and that’s the same way we handled it before. So I don’t think the way we handled it was an issue. I just thought for whatever reason … let’s just talk about this year: we’ll just make sure guys come out with ‘team’ as a priority.”

(What is it that makes this time of year challenging?) “It’s this family here that’s been working together for a common goal, since September, October. We’re all working together. Sometimes, in certain situations, when you break that up, and now you’re hearing other voices, other places, that it can distract you. I’ve seen it happen in certain situations where you’re able to get them back, but they can be distracted when you get away from this family that has been working together for one purpose.”

(Think this is the kind of team that plays better at home?) “We’ve played four games, three in the Bahamas and one in China, that weren’t at home, but we have not played a true road game yet. I don’t know if it’s because we’re at home or it’s because we’re improving. That may have something to do with it also.”

(Do you wish you had a true road game in a hostile environment?) “I wouldn’t say that’s something we’ve been missing, but I will say it’s going to be a first for us. When we scrimmaged St. Mary’s, that was one of the reasons we went away, even though there was not a crowd or a hostile environment. No one can come. But just in terms of preparation, going into playing a game on the road, we did that. But that doesn’t simulate what it’s going to be like when we play our first road game and everyone’s screaming against us.”

(On playing pressure defense) “I think our guys enjoy it. I don’t think our guys understood the amount of work that had to be put into that, and the level of conditioning we needed to be at. I don’t know if we understood that. But now that we are in good condition – really good condition – I think our guys have embraced it. They realize it. It is a fun way to play. In terms of the other team, we always talk to our guys – do what we do. So I think our guys definitely have taken ownership of it, and I think we’ll continue to take even more ownership as we continue to progress.”

(On having bigs pressure the inbound pass after made baskets) “But they all don’t do it. See, there’s the other thing. If you don’t have a guy on your roster that’s good at it, you can’t do it. And we haven’t had that guy. So all the bigs aren’t suited to play that role. It’s that guy that’s pretty agile, can move his feet. And because they’re equipped to do it, they like doing it.”

(Does that tire them out more?) “You get a little more tired.”

(On Oakland’s team) “Oakland, they have – everyone on the floor can score. They average 86 points a game but when you watch them play, it’s not a mad dash, first one to 100 wins. It’s not like that. At times they’re even methodical in the halfcourt. But it’s just that when they get their opportunities, they capitalize. Seventy-five percent as a team from the foul line. Forty percent from three as a team. Forty-six percent as a team from the field. So they’re just very, very efficient, and they have some guys that have transferred that have played in big games before, so they’re a little old, and then their point guard, Felder – 24 points a game, nine assists a game. He is just a crafty guy. He reminds me of guys that when I was younger, you play against these guys in these recreation leagues, these older men, and you were faster than them, you could jump higher than them, (but) you could never beat them. Because they just knew how to play. They just knew how to get you looking that way, and then they’d take off that way. He’s like that, and their team is kind of like that. They just know how to play. They’re well-coached. They play (at) 75, 76 possessions (per game) and they only turn the ball over 12 times a game. That’s pretty good. And they’re scoring 86 points a game, and the ball’s in his hand a lot. So they’re going to be an opponent unlike any opponent we’ve faced this year, because of their ability to put points on the board in such an efficient manner.”

(Want to push tempo more against a team with a short rotation?) “It doesn’t matter who that opponent would be, it’s going to be the same emphasis for us. We’re going to try to push it regardless of who we play. So playing TCU and Montana, they play more deliberate, we play the same way as we would play against a team that’s trying to push it.”

(Why is Malik Dime such a good shot blocker?) “He rarely is the first jumper. He has the ability to stay on his feet and not leave his feet until you release the ball. Because of his wingspan, he’s able to reach up there and get it there. And he has great timing. You don’t leave your feet, you have a 7-foot, 5-inch wingspan, and you can jump, and you have great timing, you’re probably going to be a pretty good shot blocker, and that’s what he is.”

(Impressive since he didn’t play basketball before high school?) “It’s very impressive. But Malik is pretty talented. He is very artistic. He can design shoes. You watch him, he’s one of our best dancers. He can move, he flows out on the floor. Offensively I think there’s much more in there than he’s shown at this point. I think he … eventually will be a pretty good scorer for us also. He’s fluid. He’s a really good athlete and knows how to use his athlete and contort his body. I think that’s what makes him what he is.”

(Why do you say that, about his offensive potential?) “I see it when he’s not thinking at all and he just has to make a play, and you just go whoa, that was pretty quick, that was pretty good. You need to do that all the time, because you’re capable of doing it. So for Malik, he had to learn and is learning an entirely different system, offensively and defensively. So he is the type of young man that wants to get it right. So he’s really trying hard to get it right, and I’ve said this many times – when you’re playing and thinking and studying while you’re playing, your instincts and your athleticism is out of the window. You’re not either at that point. You don’t look athletic and you don’t look very instinctive. I think as we’ve been going on and he’s learning what he’s doing more you start to see his instincts kick in more, and his athleticism. Some of those moves around the rim that were in there – it’s just that he was thinking too much to think about what he was doing. And I think that’s why he will continue to get better, because the less he thinks, the more he will play on instincts.”

(What was your first impression of him?) “That guy gets off his feet really quickly, and is a really good shot blocker. And he was the kind of guy that I don’t care where you are, what team you’re coaching or on, you want him on your team. He’s the guy when I used to play pickup, I would stash him on the side, tell him don’t come into the gym until we start picking teams. I’m picking my first two, then I’ve got him. Because he helps you win.”

(On young players not practicing free throws as much) “I don’t know. I think sometimes if it’s not a 3-point shot that’s shown on SportsCenter, kids don’t work on the shooting as much as they used to anyway, just in general, across the board.”

(On Will Conroy finishing his bachelor’s degree this quarter) “It’s awesome. Proud of him. Something we’ve been talking about for a while. That was the agreement – he was going to come on with us, but you’ve got to make sure this was done. He was already with it, he was already into it. It’s just great to see that happen.”

(On getting the Dawg Pack more involved) “We had to do our part and we need to do our part on the floor – the Dawg Pack makes the experience worthwhile for everyone. The players talk about the Dawg Pack. When the Dawg Pack was at its finest, people come here, recruits come here, our players say, ‘wait until you see the Dawg Pack. But wait until you play in front of the Dawg Pack – (there’s) nothing like it.’ That’s how the Dawg Pack was revered by the players. Maybe the Dawg Pack looked at the team and the team was revered, but they were also revered, bcause of the energy that they bring to the building. You can’t help, if you’re around them, to watch what they’re doing and not get involved. So they’re the catalysts for the type of environment that we love. And I think they go hand in hand with how we try to play. If we’re in attack mode all the time and we’re up-tempo, they’re in a frenzy up there, it makes for an exciting, exciting couple of hours to spend to watch a basketball game. Everything on the court could be happening the same way, (but) it wouldn’t be as exciting if the Dawg Pack … they make the games.”

(On the influence the Dawg Pack can have on a game) “There’s nothing like it when you’re a player. When you go on the road, and their student section, the place is going crazy, and you hit that 3 and it goes in, they go, ‘oohh,’ that’s sweet. That feeling is good. But when you’re at home and the place is going crazy and you go on an 8-0 run … you can’t simulate that anywhere else in life. When you’re playing, that crowd behind you, that loud noise, that cheering – it’s a great feeling as an athlete.”

(On Andrew Andrews getting to the rim) “Andrew, you watch over the years, that’s the one thing he has always been able to do, is get to the hole. What Andrew has done is get there under more control. That’s the difference. He’s always flying to the basket. But maybe he’d pick up a charge here or there, or maybe not be on balance. But now he’s so much more on balance when he gets to the basket. And I think that’s enabled him to get fouled even more so, because he’s been on balance a lot.”

(On Andrews getting to the rim more this season) “He had that ability last year, he just didn’t have the ball as much. Now with the way we play, he has the ball a lot more, and he’s able to apply that pressure that way. But he’s always been aggressive.”

(Is there a Pac-12 guard playing better than him right now?) “I don’t think so. He’s playing at a high, high level.”