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February 13, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Is Oregon a rival anymore?

Many Washington fans would rank Oregon behind Washington State as UW’s chief rival, but coach Lorenzo Romar has a different ranking and places the Ducks much lower on his list.
“Personally, I always thought that was more of a football rivalry than a basketball rivalry,” he said after Thursday’s 79-60 win over Oregon State. “People tried to make it a rivalry with what happened to Ryan Appleby and Aaron Brooks and all of that stuff, but I’ve never seen it as a big rivalry basketball wise.
“Arizona, UCLA and Washington State are bigger rivalries. To me, Oregon is probably fourth.”
Romar has an 8-6 record against the Ducks. UW leads the overall series 181-102.
Senior co-captain Justin Dentmon echoed Romar’s sentiments before Friday’s practice. Dentmon, an Illinois native, said the UW-UO game grew in stature after the Appleby-Brooks incident, but “then we had something with Oregon State and then they became a rival. It seems we have different rivals every year.”
Oregon (6-18) is dragging an 0-12 Pac-10 record, which adds even more significance to Saturday’s noon game, according to Jon Brockman.
“We almost have to take this game a lot more serious than any other game because they’re gonna knock somebody off,” Brockman said. “They’re gonna get a win somewhere. You don’t want to be the first team. It’s gonna be somebody and it would be terrible to be that first group to get knocked off by them because I really do believe they’re gonna win a game. I think they could win a couple of games. We don’t want to be the team that gives them that confidence.”
During his pre-practice meeting with local media, Romar said Oregon’s problems stem from its young roster and a lack of chemistry. He said “rarely will you find a young team that’s any good,” excluding famed Michigan’s Fab Five.
“Sometimes when you’re young you can know each other, you can travel together and you have good chemistry, but when you have different guys from different areas who maybe haven’t played with each other and you try to put them together, sometimes that chemistry doesn’t happen right away,” Romar said. “This is a process. I’ve used the same stories with our situation when we were younger.”
Oregon has six freshmen, while the UW has five.
“You’re talking about three or four years, Malik Hairston, Bryce Taylor, Maarty Leunen, those guys were carrying the team for a few years. Now all of sudden they’re gone and you’re looking around and saying, ‘Well, who’s going to be Malik? Who’s going to be Bryce Taylor?’ … And sometimes it just takes time.”
Despite Oregon’s shoddy record and 20-point loss Thursday in Pullman, Romar said he’ll use the same motivational tricks on his team that he applied before games against downtrodden Texas Southern and mighty UCLA.
“Our approach was, it’s about us. Regardless of who we play, it’s about us. What Jim Harrick would always say was, you can’t con a con and you can’t kid a kid. You go tell someone they’re not very good and the guys know. They know which teams are good or not playing very well. They know a lot more than people give them credit for. … But we’re not good enough to take anyone lightly. We have to have our makeup on all the time or we don’t look very good.”
On other topics:
— Romar agreed with UCLA coach Ben Howland’s assessment that the Pac-10 winner may have 4 or 5 losses. He also said it’s important to win a title because UW has never won an outright Pac-10 title.
— Romar said his picks for Pac-10 Player of the Year would be UCLA’s Darren Collison, ASU’s James Harden and Dentmon.
“If we’re able to finish the year strong and he finishes the year (strong), you got to give him a look too. It’s almost like giving the write-in on the All-Star ballot the MVP of the game. No one expected it, but at the same time, it is what it is.”
— Romar isn’t worried that Brockman, UW’s third leading scorer, attempted just three shots on Thursday. Brockman said he expected OSU to get out of its 1-3-1 zone after Dentmon scored 16 in the first half, but was content with just eight points as long as “we’re taking good shots and not being selfish.”

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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