Had a chance to talk to coach Lorenzo Romar on a teleconference call after Washington’s postseason banquet tonight.
Romar raved about the newest Husky Aziz N’Diaye, admitting that he’s never coached anyone like him at Washington. There’s really no comparison among Romar’s Huskies. Not Spencer Hawes and not 7-footer Joe Wolfinger.
Romar said N’Diaye brings a combination of size and athleticism that hasn’t been seen around these parts in a long time.
There’s plenty of insightful comments from the coach on N’Diaye during the seven-minute interview.
There’s also a few nuggets of information about Washington’s future plans. Romar was purposefully coy and non-committal when asked if the Huskies were finished recruiting for the 2010 class.
He also hinted there might changes in UW’s current roster when asked if anyone has left the team. Romar wanted to keep the focus on N’Diaye tonight promising to address the roster in the future.
(Opening Statement) “We received a letter of intent from Aziz N’Diaye. You know the numbers. He’s a 7-footer about 250 pounds. He really runs the floor well and is a warrior on the floor. He’s a guy that gives us a little more size right off the bat. Given the fact that he redshirted this year, he’s got three years left. So it’s not like two years out of junior college, he’s going to have three years left. He should be fine getting into school. And I think he’ll fit in well with us because of his ability to really run the floor, defend, rebound and be a presence in the middle. Something that we haven’t had in awhile.”
(Have you targeted him for awhile?) “Absolutely. He’s somebody we’ve been targeting for a long time. Since he signed I can talk about him, obviously Enes Kanter was in the mix, but Aziz was also. We just didn’t start recruiting him last week. We’ve been on him for awhile, knowing that … (he’d) really help our team.”
(Have you ever had a player like him?) “Spencer (Hawes) was, his talent spoke for itself. He’s a lottery pick. We never had one like Spencer. Joe Wolfinger was a 7-footer, but he was also different than Aziz. Aziz is probably the most rugged and most athletic big that we’ve had. I would say that. In that regard, I don’t think we’ve had one like that with his level of ruggedness and athleticism.”
(What about his ACL injury?) “We think he is going to be just fine because he’s been playing on it every day. He’s been lifting. He’s been squatting. He’s been playing full court. I watched him play one day after he played about two hours at night. He came back the next day and did squats and then played. If you’re still recovering, that’s hard to do. He’s not 100 percent, but he’s definitely functional today and I don’t think this is something that’s going to continue to linger on.”
(Seems like you’re versatile on the front line now.) “What we have now with our team, our bigs and inside guys are extremely versatile and can get out on the floor and cover and guard. I don’t know if we’ve had a compliment of guys with this size that are this athletic. In fact, I know we haven’t from top to bottom.”
(Will you bring him along slowly?) “Well if you’re talking about to ensure that he doesn’t get hurt, no. He’s going to be fully recovered when he’s here. If we’re talking about bringing him along slowly because of his playing ability, well that’s going to be up to Aziz. We have a need for what he brings to the table and I’m hoping he can help us immediately. But how he comes out having not played this year, that remains to be seen. But there’s certainly will be an opportunity for him.”
(Are you done recruiting for the 2010 class?)
“Well as of right now, but again you never know. When you say done that means you’re done. I can’t say necessarily we are. We’ll see.”
(So it’s possible you’ll add another player?) “We have to wait and see.”
(How is N’Diaye’s offensive game?) “I would say he’s raw offensively, but he’s a guy at this point our guards penetrate and kick to him, he goes up with authority and dunks the basketball. Right now in terms of catching the ball on the block, he has a couple of post moves there, but I don’t think he’s no way near where he’s going to be in the future. He’s an extremely hard worker and serious competitor and because of that I think he’s going to do what’s necessary to become a better offensive player and we need him to be that. He’ll start out. He’ll come out here for summer school and he’ll start working on his game right away.”
(How is his recovery?) “He still wears his knee brace, but he gets on the floor no less than three times diving for loose balls in pick-up games. He just plays with a lot of intensity and plays really, really hard. When someone is athletic, 7-feet tall and 250, you feel them when they’re playing that way.
(Has he improved as a free throw shooter?) “During the time that he was injured, he spent a lot of time working on it because he couldn’t get up and down. But he spent a lot of time working on his foul shooting.”
(What type of a shot-blocker is N’Diaye?) “He has quick feet and can get over and cover a lot of ground. In the shots that he doesn’t block, I think he alters. He’s the type of guy that you hear footsteps. Whether he’s blocking the shot or not – he is a very good shot blocker – but even when he doesn’t it, you know that he’s there because of his quickness.”
(Will you have to change how you play with N’Diaye on the floor?) “No. No. We won’t change. He’s fast. He’s mobile. We won’t have to change a thing that we do. At times, he’ll beat the guards down the floor.”
(You mean to say he’s beating Isaiah Thomas?) “I said at times. (Chuckle) Throughout the course of a game, he’ll be the guy ahead. Matthew Bryan(-Amaning) does it. He’s ahead. We throw the ball ahead to him and he’s beating guys down the floor. Aziz is able to do the same thing.”
(I’m going to tell Isaiah you said Aziz can beat him down the floor.) “If you tell him exactly how this happened. You said c’mon he can’t do it and I said at times he will be beat guards down the floor, then I think he’ll say that’s great. Now if you twist and say he’s way faster than you and will always beat you down the floor. (Laughter)”
(Any changes with the team since the last time we talked?) “I don’t think so. No. I don’t think so.”
(Let me ask the question in a different way. Has anyone left the team?) “Well those are the things we’ll talk about later. I just want to talk about Aziz tonight.”