FROM STANFORD -- During his between-game session with reporters at Maples Pavilion on Friday, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said "over-coaching" might be partially to blame for his team's poor defensive performance in an 82-56 loss at California.
Cal shot 55 percent from the field and scored in a variety of ways -- dribble drives, post-ups, 3-pointers -- in UW's worst defensive game of the Pac-12 season.
The Huskies might have been thinking too much, Romar said.
"There were some things in terms of the scout that we as coaches gave our team that may have been a little too much," Romar said. "Sometimes you can think about doing so many different things, you don’t do anything the right way. You put that on me. We probably spread our team out defensively a little too much. Maybe we tried to over-coach them defensively. You couple that with the ball not going in the basket, and there we reverted back to kind of the way we had been playing defense before. I think those factors played a part."
The way the Huskies missed shots also impacted the way they defended. As he said after the game, Romar was particularly disappointed that "we allowed us not seeing the ball go in the basket to affect what we were doing."
--- How did the Huskies respond in practice on Thursday and Friday? Pretty good, Romar said.
"It reminds me of a similar situation last year," he said. "We went to Arizona and did not play well at all. Second half, just didn’t really finish the game. Came back at practice, guys were dialed in. Came back against Arizona State and played really well. So far, that’s how these practices have been."
--- Senior forward Perris Blackwell has missed all but one of his 16 field-goal attempts in UW's last two games.
Romar isn't sure if he's slumping, because "he's getting some shots around the rim. I don’t know if you’d call it a slump, concentration, start pressing, whatever you want to say. I just know that Perris Blackwell played against Aziz N’Diaye in practice every day last year. And there were days when Aziz couldn’t handle him around the basket, and we go to Arizona, he plays against Kaleb Tarczewski and Jordan Bachynski and he does fine.
"It’s just a matter of him regaining his focus and concentration, getting a certain level of confidence back and he’ll be all right. He’s done it. It’s different if someone has never done it, you’ve never seen it. We’ve seen it on a number of occasions against anybody. So we know he’s capable."
--- Another of UW's big men, Shawn Kemp Jr., is back at full strength as he contends with an early-season diagnosis of Graves disease.
Romar noted that Kemp is shooting 60-plus percent in Pac-12 games this season (though he's been in foul trouble so often that it's hard for UW to keep him on the floor). The Huskies want more of the scoring and less of the quick fouls.
"Shawn has his strength all the way back, his energy," Romar said. "Shawn is being vocal out there on the floor. He’s really running the floor now. We threw him the ball in the game last time. He just caught it, boom, went up, knocked the shot down. He’s shooting over 60 percent in league play, so he needs to get more looks down there himself. He’s coming on exactly like he did last year, when he was averaging over, what was it? Eight, nine-game period? He’s kind of getting double digits. He’s headed that direction. No time too soon. We like it.”
--- Cal's height was a problem on Wednesday night -- particularly Richard Solomon and David Kravish -- and the Huskies face a Stanford team that also possesses a handful of tall players. That'll be a challenge, Romar said, but the Huskies' failings on Wednesday night weren't all size-related.
"I think they bothered us around the rim a little bit, but at the same time, we played against an Arizona team that is definitely not smaller than Cal," Romar said. "If anything, they’re bigger. And we did OK in that game. So you give Cal a lot of credit, because yeah, they did a good job that way. But I think there were some other things that factored into that game more than just necessarily the height disadvantage."
Some more quotes from Romar on Saturday night's game at Stanford ...
(On strong starts to Pac-12 play the past few years before tapering off) “Well, again, the way we’ve practiced goes a long way toward trying to not let that happen. And just talking about why we were 3-1, and why we did what we did the other night. Make sure we understand that, so we can learn from it quickly, try to nip it in the bud. And again, whether we win or lose, it’s about did we prepare mentally and come to that game focused and dialed in, doing what we were supposed to do. And then you can’t do any more than that. You put forth your best effort, and preparation, and performance, and then you do. That’s what we need to be able to do. We need to focus on that.”
(Is there more to Mike Anderson’s offensive game than what he’s shown?) “Oh yeah. Let’s remember now. He had a game where he had 19 rebounds, 16 points in a game. Early, he was averaging double-figures and we had the same situation, same lineup, playing the same position. Mike is unselfish to a fault at times, and we have to continue to tell him to be more aggressive, and he’s starting to do that now. That makes us a better team.”
(Is he being more aggressive in practice?) “In that game, because of their size, we thought if we spread them – and it worked a couple of times – he would drive it and take it to the rim. And he did. But then there were a couple times where there were others waiting in there. But in practice, we have to get on him at the same time. Sometimes I have to stop it: why didn’t you shoot the ball? Why didn’t you take advantage of that opportunity. ‘yes coach. I got you.’ He’s a great kid. He’s aggressive on defense. He’s aggressive going to the boards. He’s an aggressive player. He just should take advantage of his opportunities when they’re there more.”
(What does Stanford do well?) “Again, their size. They’re pretty versatile. That’d be the biggest thing, their size. They’re long. They can affect us at the rim, as well, like perhaps Cal did. We just have to do a good job of finishing against these guys and spreading them out enough so we can get good shots.”
(Who is playing well for Stanford?) “(Chasson) Randle is their leading scorer, obviously he’s playing well. (Stefan) Nastic has been given an opportunity this year and he’s taking advantage of it. So he’s playing much better basketball. Anthony Brown scored 24 the other night. He’s playing good basketball. Obviously we know (Josh) Heustis and (Dwight) Powell are all-conference type guys.”
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple