Here are the highlights of coach Lorenzo Romar's end-of-season press conference today, which was focused heavily on the future. I decided the Q&A format would work best for this wide-ranging information, but many of the answers listed below are edited for length or clarity.
Q: Where will Matthew Bryan-Amaning’s lost size and points come from?Romar: In this program, players have done a good job of stepping up in someone else’s absence. Next year, we’ll have bigger wings, bigger guards. Abdul Gaddy is back, he’s 6-3; Tony Wroten is 6-5. Those are bigger guard. You already have Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross as bigger wings. And, you still have a 7-footer (Aziz N’Diaye). I don’t think we take a back seat to size in some ways. We get a little bigger on the perimeter.
Q: What have you told Isaiah Thomas about returning next season or leaving for the NBA draft?A: It’s important for himself, for his future, his career, to take a look and see what the opinion of Isaiah Thomas is at the next level. The rule allows you to do that and get the feedback and see. If someone out there is willing to say ‘You are going to be drafted at this spot,’ then you’ve got to look at it. But also if you feel you’re coming back, maybe they can confirm your decision as well.
Q: Do you expect Thomas to return to more of a combo guard role?A: He probably won’t be handling it as much as he did this year. Down the stretch he played a lot of minutes, and when he was in the game the ball was in his hands. We’ve never done that before. We’ve been successful the other way, when others handled the ball too. I think it just shows Isaiah’s versatility.
Q: Does Thomas not playing point hurt his NBA stock?A: Totally disagree. Isaiah was able to play on the biggest stage this year. Everybody in the country had a chance to watch Isaiah play point guard. He made most of the decisions. He did a lot. There were a lot of NBA people at our games. They got to watch him live and up close run a team. It’s not like they won’t have any past data to draw from. I’ve always said he’s a guard. At 5-9 in the NBA he’ll be a point guard.
Q: Are you open to playing with four guards on the floor?A: With Terrence Ross you can do that. He’s athletic enough, tall enough, and he’ll be stronger next year. We definitely can go out and do that. It’s hard to play four little guards. But we don’t have that anymore. Our guards now have pretty good size.
Q: Who can provide points in the paint?A: You win if you score points in the paint. But dribble penetration, post up your bigger wings, offensive penetration, all of those are points in the paint. The objective is to try to do that. There are some guys who can emerge and be functional down there that haven’t shown it yet.… Terrence Ross is probably the best down there on the block, but I really anticipate Aziz to be better on the block next year.
Q: What improvements do you need and expect from seniors-to-be Darnell Gant and Scott Suggs?A: I think Scott could take a huge jump, and Darnell could too for that matter. This will be the first time in Darnell’s career where he comes in with a great, great chance to make a big impact early. I think in the other years he was just trying to get on the floor. This year he made more strides, but next year is the first time we’re going to ask him to be prepared to take on a bigger role. And Scott, I thought from last year to this year made big strides, so he definitely could make a jump.
Q: What impact do you expect from the incoming players? A: Hikeem Stewart is a heady player that’s a good athlete. We have a lot of guards, he’ll be given an opportunity like the others. Tony Wroten is a phenomenal talent. At the high school level, he’s the best passer that I’ve seen all year. Jernard Jarreau, I can’t wait for him to get here. He could be the one that could surprise a lot of people. I think he has a chance to be pretty special. (Redshirt freshman) Desmond Simmons, on this year’s roster, he was our most aggressive rebounder.
Q: What do you expect from the Pac-12 next season?A: I think the league will really be improved next year, when you just look at the low number of seniors and how many guys are coming back.
Other highlights: The coaches will begin meeting with players next week to assess their academic and athletic offseason goals. … Romar said he expects his assistants to return unless one takes a head coaching job. He added that “you never know” about player transfers. … Next season’s schedule is expected to be finalized next week, but Romar wouldn’t discuss it until then. … No players are scheduled for off-season surgeries. … Romar said every player except Thomas could benefit from coming back with added muscle next season. … Romar said there are no current plans for anyone to redshirt next season, although that could change once they start playing. Andrew Andrews, however, is expected to attend prep school unless a scholarship comes open. … Asked about fan frustration that the team hasn’t yet broken deeper into the NCAA tournament, Romar said: “I just hope people would be patient and see that we are still making progress.”