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Husky Men's Basketball

The latest news and analysis on Husky men's hoops.

September 27, 2010 at 12:12 PM

Lorenzo Romar on Isaiah Thomas: “He is a winner”

Photo credit: AP Photo – Kevin P. Casey
In Part III and the final segment of my one-on-one interview with Lorenzo Romar (above, left), the Washington coach talks about the incoming freshmen and his recruiting philosophy for the class of 2011.
Romar also discusses junior co-captain Isaiah Thomas (above, right) and compares him favorable to Jon Brockman and Nate Robinson. Romar admits he gives Thomas more latitude than other players, but there’s a good reason for it.
(How about a few words on the new guys. What are your thoughts after watching them practice for a little bit?) “We recruited Aziz (N’Diaye) to come in and contribute this year. And now with Tyreese Breshers it’s even more imperative that he comes out and provides us with some presence inside. I have all the confidence in the world that he’s going to do that. Then there’s Desmond Simmons. Husky fans are going to like Desmond Simmons. He plays so hard. He’s got a nose for the ball. On the first day when we could get out with the players on the floor, we just let the guys play a little and Desmond was the leading scorer. And he didn’t do it because he wowed you with dunks. He just was here and there. A three-pointer there. A steal here.”
(A three-pointer? C’mon?) “Yeah, he actually had a three. He’s really good for us. Terrence Ross is just an amazing talent. You watch him play and right away you go wow. He’s going to make his mark on his program in not too long. Antoine Hosley is a freshman walk-on. He’s coming in. Coming from a good basketball program. And then C.J. Wilcox was a redshirt for us last year. He’s not new, but it’s the first time he’ll wear a uniform in a real game. It’s well documented about his ability to shoot. He’s got quick feet. That’s it for the new guys.”
(Do you have a logjam at the 2 and 3 spots?)

“I wouldn’t put it as logjam, I would say we’ve got really capable players there that are going to provide depth and going to allow us to get after people. These guys are going to play as hard as they can the entire time that they’re in and then we got capable reserves – whoever the reserves end up being – who won’t drop off a whole lot. Guys will be able to come in and kind of like tag team.”
(Can you play everyone?) “I don’t know if we can play every one of them, but the majority of them will play.”
(Why did you bring on a walk-on this year?) “Antoine was a guy that I watched a number of times in high school. I already knew that he could come in and do a good job for us for what we needed a walk-on to be able to do. His attitude is right. That’s the No. 1 thing. What is your attitude like? Are you going to be in my office after the first few weeks asking why I’m not starting? Or are you going to come in and work hard every day in practice and help this program and be a good student? It’s really hard to find those guys. Most times they can do it for a year and then the next thing you know, they’re asking why am I not playing more. Well, we want to win and if you’re better than the other guys, then you will play. But those people aren’t realistic and accepting to where they are. And their parents are probably a little more unrealistic then they are. Someone who is not going to play, they need to have the attitude of they’re trying to get better and not be concerned about playing time. And he’s got the right attitude.”
(If you look at the statistics, amount of wins, winning percentage and post-season success, Isaiah Thomas is on track to finish his career as the greatest Husky athlete of all time. Not just basketball player, but athlete. How did this happen? How did this little guy from Tacoma get to a point where we’re including him in the same sentence as the all-time Husky greats?) “He’s got a huge heart. He’s more talented then people think he is. And here’s the thing that not enough people give him credit for, he is a winner. Isaiah wins. People don’t understand that about him. He finds a way to win.”
(You’ve put your trust in him and sometimes you get criticized for it because Thomas is so unorthodox in his approach. Why have you given him so much freedom and responsibility so early in his career?) “He has a passion about this game. He wants to be the best he can be. And he wants to win. He’s going to do whatever it takes to make any of those things happen. There are times Isaiah probably wants to slap me. He probably wants to tell me off, but he doesn’t because I think he feels as upset as I am right now, I know he wants the best for me. His attitude has been great. And as coaches, we have to figure out there’s some guys you can give them all the room you want and they’re going to be a detriment to the team. And then others, you give them that rope and they’re going to find a way to be successful. Nate Robinson was that way. There’s some plays you’re saying ‘Nate what are you doing?’ But he’s that guy. Nate is going to play his heart out for you. He’s going to give everything he’s got and he’s going to find a way to win. So with a guy like that, you back off. Isaiah is like that too. You back off and give them a little more room. Some others might say well why don’t you give me that space. Well you don’t have the ability that he has despite of what your parents might say.”
(I remember before Brockman’s senior year, you asked him to take less shots because it would make the team better. Thomas averaged 15 points as a freshman, 17 as a sophomore and could average 20-plus this season. Would you rather his scoring leveled out or even took a step back because it appears as if UW has other scoring options?) “I wouldn’t say step back. He needs to be Isaiah. If that means 15 points a game? Great. If that means 25? Then that’s what it is. I think Isaiah took a step back from scoring last year when we started winning. He became more of a distributor and a scorer. He started to do all of those things. He’s ahead of the curve in that way. He’s already started doing that. The key to him is not to tell him this is what you’re going to do. Jon is the second leading scorer in the history of this school and he scored in a different way. Isaiah scores in a different way than Jon Brockman. Isaiah scores in a different way than Nate Robinson. Isaiah just has a knack for it and you don’t want to tell a guy that has a knack for scoring like that don’t shoot. Just play basketball. Make sure if a guy is open, he gets the ball though. That’s your rule.”
(How many scholarships do you have for the class of 2011?) “Today probably five. Three seniors. We’re at 12 now, but Tyreese is not going to count against us. So five as of today.”
(That’s a big class and it seems like an important time in the history of the program. What’s your approach to how you’re going to fill that class?) “It’s going to work out. We’re going to have five. And by that I mean, every year there’s something you don’t expect. Someone transfers at the last minute. Some of them go to the NBA draft. You just don’t know. But today, we have five.”
(Last year you said you were recruiting height and you end up with N’Diaye who is 7 feet. What are you looking for this time?) “We’re looking to add to what we already have, which is long, athletic guys that are basketball players. Not one-dimensional. That’s not what we want.”
(Do you think you’ll get them all in during the early signing period in November?) “I think we’ll get the majority of them in early.”
(And will the majority of the recruits be local?) “I don’t know. I’m not sure. With the guys that we’re recruiting, there’s a good chance that there will be some that are local. So I think there will be a mix.”
— Garfield High senior Tony Wroten said via Twitter rumors he committed to Louisville after a visit last weekend are untrue. Wroten said he’ll announce his college decision Oct. 7.
Norman Powell, a 6-foot-3 guard from San Diego gave a verbal commitment to UCLA, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
— Despite his strong east coast ties, the Tucson Citizen says Arizona coach Sean Miller is quickly making recruiting inroads on the west coast. According to the story, “before Miller arrived in Tucson in April 2009, he did not recruit a prospect west of Ohio while at Xavier.” is unveiling its top 144 team rankings over the next several weeks and they’re at 100. USC comes in at No. 120 and Utah is 104. The website gives a comprehensive summary of the Trojans.
— On its pay site, pushed Arizona to No. 5 in the recruiting ranks for the class of 2011. The Wildcats recently received a verbal commitment from No. 2-ranked point guard Josiah Turner.
— It’s a little dated, but has a story about the 12 new college coaches and says Colorado’s Tad Boyle stepped into the best situation.
— Another story that’s a little old. This one is on Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins who has high expectations for the incoming six-player 2010 class of freshmen that includes former Bellevue High star Aaron Bright and Vashon Island High standout John Gage.

Comments | Topics: C.J. Wilcox, top 25, UCLA


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