Photo credit: Seattle Times – Jim Bates
In Part Two of my one-on-one interview with Lorenzo Romar, the Washington coach identified three starters (co-captains Justin Holiday and Isaiah Thomas and senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning) and said sophomore point guard Abdul Gaddy (above) hasn’t secured a spot with the first unit.
Gaddy started 29 of 36 games last season and appears as if he’ll need to compete with senior Venoy Overton, an all-Pac-10 Defensive team pick, for the job. Overton had been a starter when the 2009-10 season began, however, he seemed to thrive when he went to the bench after eight starts.
I also asked Romar about the Sweet 16 hurdle and if success this season is contingent upon UW advancing to the Elite 8.
(You said it’s possible to play Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N’Diaye together, but can they play together for major minutes?) “Yes, I would say they could. That’s all going to depend on Matthew. Matthew has the ability to be out on the perimeter and guard quicker guys. Or maybe we go zone while those two are in there. But yeah, it can happen.”
(In the past you’ve flip flopped with this question, do you have returning starters?) “I think Isaiah is. I think Holiday is. And I think Matthew is at this point. No when we start out and by start out I mean the first day of practice, those guys will probably be out there. Now when we go out and if a couple of guys are just outstanding and they’re making us a better team, then they’re going to be in there. Going in, usually I have no idea, but this year Matthew is a senior, he started at the end of last year and played really well. He continued to do an outstanding job and I think he’ll be in there. … At this point, I’d say those (three) starting out will be in there. After that, I’m not sure.”
(The other returning starter that you didn’t mention is Gaddy. Is that position up for grabs?) “It’s a new year. It’s a new year and we got guys that are going to compete for it.”
(Who has impressed you so far?)
(Why?) “I could name a number of people. I’m not trying to avoid the question, but there a lot of guys that we’ve been impressed with. I’d say Holiday because right now his leadership and just his attention to detail. When you look at him it’s almost like been there, done that. He knows what’s going on. He’s a winner. That part is just built into his personality.”
(The past two years, you’ve gotten great leadership from your captains. How do you see it playing out this season between Holiday and Thomas?) “I think we got pretty good leadership with Justin and Isaiah. Isaiah has always been a leader in his own right. He wasn’t officially a captain, but he’s led. Now he has the title that comes with it and I think Isaiah will do a very good job of leading. They’re used to winning.”
(Have you talked to them about your vision and getting them to relay that to the team?) “Oh yeah, but understand Justin has been hearing that vision for three years about what it’s like to be a leader. Isaiah has been hearing it for a couple of years.”
(Last season, UW was one of the favorites to win the title and this year you’re the favorites again. Are you better able to deal with the pressures that comes with the preseason hype?) “Well let’s hope so. If our guys really understand going into this year that we have not done anything. That these preseason rankings are all based on your potential. If we understand that going in, I would say we’re more prepared for it. If we think we’re just going to automatically go to the Final Four or Sweet 16 or whatever that is, then we’re going to be bad and we haven’t learned that lesson yet. The last two years I’ve heard that talk in the preseason. Two years ago, we start out 2-3 then win the Pac-10 championship. And last year, we hear all that and we’re in 10th place the first couple weeks of conference play. So all of these predictions are nice, but we haven’t done anything. This is a brand new team and if our guys understand that going in, then I would say we’re better equipped to handle that. We have to understand there’s a lot of hard work that needs to take place, a lot of coming together that needs to takes place before we can talk about how successful we’re going to be.”
(As much as you may protest otherwise, I believe this season is all about you. Is this going to be the year Lorenzo Romar finally takes the Huskies beyond the Sweet 16? Is that a fair question?) “If I’m a sports fan and I’m following the Huskies, I think that’s a fair question. We want to get beyond all of that. We ask ourselves that. Is this year? Maybe it is. But again, so much has to come together for us to make the NCAA tournament. As I’m talking to you, you might say ‘C’mon coach you’re going to make the NCAA tournament.’ But not necessarily. If it doesn’t come together we won’t make the NCAA tournament. There’s a lot of road ahead of us. So I think that question is fair, but I’m not so much concerned with what we’re going to do in the first few games. I’m concerned about the first week of practice and making sure our foundation is laid so we’re headed on the right path and roles begin to be defined early. I’m more concerned about that then I am about the Sweet 16 because if we don’t do that, I know we won’t. I always say it’s a compliment to our program that people are thinking that way and we’ve made some steps in the right direction.”
(What’s your biggest concern before you begin practice Oct. 15?) “If we’re going to come together as a team and if guys are going to understand what their roles are and if they play up to their potential. That’s it.”
(You’ve talked a lot about chemistry. Why?) “If guys understand who they are and what they bring to this team, we’ll do everything else. We’ll rebound. We’ll knock down shots. We’ll defend. But like I said, sometimes people don’t understand that. Sometimes it may take a little while for us to get going. That’s why those are my biggest concerns.”