Full menu today from coach Lorenzo Romar , who touched on a variety of subjects, including football. Here’s some quotes from today’s press conference. Warning: It’s a lengthy interview.
(How does UW’s style, tempo and pace compare to Georgetown’s?) “I would say we probably look to play a little more uptempo than Georgetown. Georgetown makes it difficult to score on them because they’re so big inside. If you are able, which is difficult to break through their first line of defense, you got some good size on the back line (that) makes it difficult to score at the rim. And that’s definitely going to be a challenge for us to be able to find ways to score against them because they do a really good job defensively. On the offensive end, they’re very versatile. They got a great compliement of capable scorers. We got to go out and play our basketball and see what happens.”
(Is this stretch of games important?) “Like we always talk to our team, every game presents its own challenge and every game has it’s own significance. With the teams that may not be a top-25 team, they have they’re own significance. If you don’t play well and you lose those games, boy that can really hurt you. This particular stretch coming up, we do have opponents … Portland was in the top 25. Texas A&M is currently in the top 25 and the game before us right now, Georgetown, is in the top 25 and a really good basketball team. I think we’ll be challenged as much as we have all year. I think that’s how we got to look at it. Georgetown, I think, will be the best team that we’ve played up to this point.”
(How do you stop Greg Monroe?) “Well the thing with Monroe, he’s so versatile. At 6-11, he can put the ball on the floor and make plays for himself and make plays for others. Those that can do that are usually difficult covers. You don’t find a lot of guys like that. Some guys can make plays for others, some can make them for themselves. But when you can do both, you’re a tough opponent to deal with.
(Is Georgetown like any team in the Pac-10?) “I don’t think so. I don’t know if we have anyone in our league that can do what Greg Monroe does at 6-11 for starters. That makes them different. If they were in our league, they would be one of the better defensive teams. I don’t know if anyone in our league has as big a front line as they do in terms of the two guys (Monroe and 6-9 forward Julian Vaughn) that are in there.”
(Will the Hoyas’ depth force you to force change the starting lineup?) “It won’t be because of that. If our starting lineup changes it’s because we feel it’s the best lineup for us to be effective. It won’t be as a result of how we matchup with them.”
(What do you like with Elston Turner after two starts?) “He’s done a good job. He’s been aggressive on the offensive end, but at the same time he’s put forth a good effort at the defensive end. If the defensive effort wasn’t there, he probably wouldn’t be in the starting lineup, but he’s been able to be functional on the defensive end.”
(Still planning to shorten the rotation?)
“We practiced once. We practiced yesterday. We’ll practice again today and probably most of it has been determined, but at the same time three more days of practice someone could make a case here at the last minute. We’ll probably wait until Saturday to see what happens, what comes out of it. It’s so close. From 8-11 is really, really close. And if C.J. Wilcox was not redshirting, he’d be right there as well.”
(Can you share what Saturday’s rotation might look like?) “If I knew I’d would tell you. But I don’t know. That’s how close it is.”
(What challenges do Georgetown’s wide array of scorers present?) “You have to really, really be sound in all your defensive principles. If you’re able to focus on one guy, maybe two guys then you can kind of rally around those two players and the entire team knows this is what we’re looking at. But when you got multiple scorers such as Georgetown, you got to play sound defense because if you don’t, any breakdown will be taken advantage of.”
(Has Turner improved defensively?) “I thought last year he was a decent defender. This year early on maybe he was a little behind that way, but as he began to catchup and play better defensively … he’s a smart defender. He really understands what we’re trying to do. When he really gets after it, he’s able to hold his own out there.”
(What’s the key to getting Isaiah Thomas better starts?) “Isaiah is one you just – whether he’s 5 for 16 or whatever it is – you just kind of let him play. Isaiah has a lot of pride. Isaiah understands basketball. If he goes through a couple of games where he doesn’t shoot it as well or things don’t go his way, he’s going to make the necessary adjustments. He’s going to do that. So whether it’s one game he was good in the first half and the next game he was good in the second half, don’t try to really get in and critique it that much and make it too much of a science. Just relax and play. That’s how I see it with him. Not everybody is like that. Some others you got to really show them. Play a lot of film and break it down to them and let them see it. He’ll do alright.
(Is there any more anxiousness from players this week?) “You’re playing in the John Wooden Classic first of all. That there in and of itself is pretty special. It is a national stage. It is against Georgetown that has rich tradition and they’re a good basketball team. I think regardless of if anyone else fits that profile, you’re going to be ready to play. The key for us is to try to be ready to play regardless of who we’re playing. That’s what we talk about quite a bit, but you would hope everyone would bring their A-game this week.”
(How important is the John Wooden Classic to you?) “Very, very important. Growing up in Los Angeles, following John Wooden from the time I first learned how to play basketball and actually I told this story before I took a visit here coming out of junior college. On my way back, I was confused a little bit. I kind of knew what I wanted to do, but I was confused. Am I going to make the right choice? As I got off the airplane and I’m walking towards baggage claim and I see this little man walking ahead and I looked at him and I said I bet he can give me some great advice. And it was coach Wooden. That was 1977. I caught up with him and asked him. And I’ll never forget, he said if you have a chance to play for Marv Harshman, you can’t pass that up. Being at UCLA when I was an assistant, I got a chance to spend a lot of time with him and just probably the most amazing and impressive man I’ve ever met in my life. To be involved in this situation means a lot.
(Do you think your players know about Wooden?) “They all know who John Wooden is. Growing up I knew who Adolf Rupp was, but I just knew he was pretty good. I don’t think our guys understand that coach Wooden could have been one of the best teachers in America if he continued to teach english. If he would have ran his own company away from basketball, it would have been a billion-dollar company. I don’t think our guys really understand how amazing a man he is. It’s well documented how successful a coach he was. But I think as remarkable as his coaching history has been, if you spend time with him and talk to him, you can almost forget about what he did as a basketball coach and get so into what he is as a person and his knowledge on so many different things.
(Every team still runs his plays, right?) “We invited him when I was at Pepperdine – my first head coaching job – we invited him to come watch practice. And you talk about intimidating. Coach Wooden sitting in a chair at halfcourt watching practice. Practice ended and we asked him to sit down and critique our practice, which he never will. He’d just say you’re doing a fine job and it didn’t matter what you’re doing. There’s a drill … where you have players on each sideline, it’s a continual fastbreak drill … that’s called 3-on-2 conditioning. Well what we did, you’d have usually just players running in, well one of my assistants decided to have one team on one side and the other team on the other side to make it competitive. And we were doing that. When practiced ended, coach Wooden said I think you’re doing a fine job. I think we were 10-17 that year. He said I think you’re doing a fine job. He said in fact I learned something. If I had it to do over again, 3-on-2 conditioning, he said I’d probably do it the way you’re doing it. Then he said, you know when I first invented that drill. Coach hold on, hold on. You invented that drill? Everybody does it. Everyone does that same drill. But coach invented the drill. He invented stuff in basketball. It’s unbelievable. But really, really special. You can almost bring up any subject and he’s got a poem for it. Any issue you’re dealing with in life, he’s got some type of poem for it. Some metaphor. He’s really special.”
(Do good teams need bad games like the past few games?) “Sometimes it does. Again that’s one of the reasons you play a non-conference schedule is to face all types of situations and get better at them when you face them. Maybe you face a situation and you do a phenomenal job well keep doing what you’re doing. Well you face a certain situation and you don’t do as good a job well it give you that time to go back and get it fixed before you start your conference play.
(Have you had that every season?) “Whether we’ve had to or not, we’ve always gone through stretches. I would say that with the exception of the 2005 team. Every other team, including Brandon Roy’s senior year, people forget we lost three games during conference. And people were ready to shut down our program. But just about every team went through a stretch were we’re just not playing well and then it clicks. Just about every team we’ve had here, we’ve gone through that. Whether you’ve had to do that or you just go through a lull in your schedule, who knows? But often times it’s a wake-up call in some way.”
(What advice to you have for players who have been in Jake Locker’s position?) “(Laughs) All I want to say to Jake is please stay man it is so much fun to watch you play. That’s the only advice I want to give him. But we fail to see the flip side to that sometimes. As much as we love watching the kid play and how good our team can be next year with him being here, from his standpoint he has a side that he’s looking at as well. And what I’ve always tried to do is just look at the pros and cons. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone what to do. Nate Robinson. Brandon Roy. Martell Webster. Spencer Hawes. I don’t think I’ve ever said this is what you should do. This is what can happen over here. This is what can happen there. You’re smart enough you’ll make the right decision. That’s pretty much the advice I’d give him.
(The NCAA tournament is considering expanding from 65 teams to 96. Any thoughts?) “I’ve never been a fan of that. I didn’t like it when they broke up the American and National League either and when they added a DH. I guess I’m old-fashioned that way. I think it’s good that it went from 16 to 32 teams, from 32 teams it expanded to 65, I think okay good. There’s the number right there. I think if all of a sudden you got 90-plus teams I don’t know how big making the tournament is anymore. I think it kind of sets you apart. But I was in favor of the Pac-10 going from eight teams to 10 teams to make it into the Pac-10 tournament. Maybe the same argument can go for (that). If you’re the 90th team to get in, maybe you’re going to win it all if you get that opportunity. But I’m just not and never have been a big fan of it.”
NCAA TOURNAMENT NOTE:
— Citing industry sources, Sports Business Journal reports the NCAA has started meeting with broadcasters to explore the value of expanding the men’s basketball tournament field. It’s been long rumored the tournament would expand to 96 teams and it could happen as soon as 2011.