Washington coach Lorenzo Romar touched on a variety of topics this afternoon including Arizona State and the Sun Devils’ difficult 3-2 matchup zone. He said the Huskies are playing more zone this season than ever before because UW finally has the personnel to make it effective.
Romar discussed recruiting ASU’s Ty Abbott and newcomer Carrick Felix, who attended the same junior college as Aziz N’Diaye.
Romar talked at length about Isaiah Thomas’ incredible play Thursday when he dove out of bounds to save a loose ball and he explained why he’s unable to give redshirt freshman C.J. Wilcox playing time to work himself out of a shooting slump.
Romar said Darnell Gant has played well in the past two games when he had four and six rebounds. He said there are three parts to Gant’s game (rebounding, defending and shooting) and he needs to do two of those three during the game.
Romar said former UW star Brandon Roy, who is recovering from knee surgery, is going through a “different chapter” in his life.
And finally, Romar said he’ll keep the same starting lineup and noted Abdul Gaddy did not attend last night’s game because the sophomore guard is recuperating from last week’s knee surgery.
HERE’S THE INTERVIEW WITH ROMAR:
(On Arizona State’s 3-2 matchup zone) “Their zone is a lot different than ours. Thank goodness this isn’t our first year in the league. If we had just joined this league and this is our first year and we you had one day to prepare for that, it’s different. It’s one those types of zones that if you were to play them in the first-round of the NCAA tournament – it’s something you don’t face everyday – it could really give you problems. And it could give us problems tomorrow. So we have to make sure we’re detailed in how we want to go at them.
“They can mix their zone. Sometimes it appears there aren’t any passing options, but yet they’re applying pressure. They have an ability to extend their zone and really get after you where you feel you have to go somewhere and make a play, but yet they’re covering up for each other. They move quickly. It seems like there’s seven of them out there at times.”
(On ASU 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye playing against ASU’s 7-2 center Jordan Cachynski) “You’re talking about Aziz being matched up with a guy who plays a little bit like a small forward at times. Derrick Williams was like a combo small/power forward versus a guy who is going to spend a lot more time around the basket. So that’s a contrast. I’m sure Aziz is probably a little more comfortable playing against that type of player. Not to say he can’t be any more successful, but he probably has a better comfort level.”
(On ASU’s junior-college transfer Carrick Felix) “Carrick was someone that was very impressive. We felt with the makeup of our team, it was a position we already had and had depth at that position. That’s the only reason we didn’t really recruit him. … He’s as athletic as anyone in the country. He’s a big-time athlete.”
(On Arizona State) “Every opponent that you play against, you always want to respect them. Fear none. Respect them all. But Arizona State can make it a little complicated for you to where you better be organized. You better know what you’re doing going into that game or they can give you a lot of problems. They can give you fits.”
(On ASU’s Ty Abbott) “We did not turn him down. We tried to get him. He’s an outstanding young man. Very good shooter. Real athletic. He didn’t want to leave home when it all came down to it. He didn’t want to leave home. So we weren’t able to get him. But we were very impressed with him.”
(On C.J. Wilcox’s shooting slump) “C.J. was affected by a staph infection and you’re trying to make a comeback all of a sudden when every possession is monumental in Pac-10 play when you’re trying to (win) a conference championship. And you’re trying to come back off of an injury when you’re a freshman. That’s not always easy.”
(On being unable to give Wilcox more minutes) “You’d like to be able to say you just play through this, but you don’t quite have that luxury. We talk about scheduling and a lot of times in nonconference if we played every game that was a heavyweight bout like some of our Pac-10 games, sometimes you don’t have the luxury to develop young players and give them those minutes that they need. If you’re playing against some opponents that maybe you’re further along than, then you have more margin for error and you can give guys chances to play through their mistakes. In conference sometimes, it’s difficult to do.”
(On UW running more zone than past years) “One of the reasons we practiced zone early was because of Aziz and we knew we could potentially have a big lineup out there. If there were situations where there were mismatches or we were in foul trouble we wanted to be able to (zone). One was a defensive mechanism. Another was more of an offensive mechanism because if we had a big lineup out there – we knew we had the potential to put Abdul, Terrence Ross, Justin Holiday, Matthew (Bryan-Amaning) and Aziz on the floor at the same time. That’s a big zone. And we thought that would be an asset. Also we knew the zone – if we were in trouble or just had to change – we thought we needed to be good at it. In the past we were so much smaller. You can only do so much if you’re in the zone and you’re small. So we felt we were quick enough and aggressive enough to present problems in the man to man (defense). But in the past, the zone has hurt us a times, but it’s also won some games for us. I can remember a few games specifically that we went zone and even though we weren’t very good at it, it just changed the complexion of the game.”
(More on UW’s zone) “We just didn’t spend enough time on it. Because we were such a man-to-man (defensive) team, we kind of coached it in practice. A little bit once in awhile if we thought we might play it. Sometimes we’d kind of look at it and say wow we can not guard these guys, let’s try zone just to see. Even though we’re not good at it, try anything. It helps sometimes. And this year because of the makeup of our team, we just haven’t had this size before. We haven’t had this length before on the wings. We decided before the season started, let’s make sure that we’re good enough in zone that we can use it for those reasons that I mentioned.”
(On where he learned the zone) “It’s a basic junior-high zone to tell you the truth. … It’s not a complicated zone. … A zone itself is not some earth-shattering revelation. It’s just the personnel playing the zone is better than we had and we put more time into it. We just didn’t work on it as much in the past.”
(On if the zone is a staple of the defense) “We’re not as stellar defensively as we need to be so sometimes we have to use it. And again, you go into a game saying you won’t use zone. Then all of a sudden, guys pick up fouls early. All of a sudden the game is not going the way you thought it was supposed to go. Let’s break it out.”
(On Thomas’ ball-saving play) “There’s a difference between playing hard and competing. Coach (John) Wooden would always say, you don’t want to have activity with no achievement. There’s a ball here and you got no chance to get it, but you just dive. And you don’t even touch the ball and you fall down. That’s nothing. … You didn’t do anything. You played hard. He (Thomas) competed when he went after that ball. He competed. When you compete, you’re trying to do something to win. Not just have activity. He sprints after that ball. Saves it. I really broke this down. Does the Ricky Henderson slide. And as soon or almost before he comes to a stop, he’s up and he’s running in the tunnel sprinting back on the floor asking for the ball. Gets the ball and starts calling for a ball screen. That’s competing. Right there. He made a similar play although he knocked it out of bounds at UCLA. They were throwing the ball the length of the floor and he just jumps up, times it and just knocks it out of bounds.
“I was just telling somebody. Isaiah, he scores. Now he’s assisting. He defends. But he has no problems diving in the stands and getting on the floor for a loose ball. He’s a rugged, hard-playing, tough little guy.”
(On his affection for those types of plays) “The reverse dunk, everybody goes crazy and you’re raising the roof. That won’t win the game for you. That will get people excited. But you still got to go back and play defense. Those kind of plays (Thomas diving out of bounds) to me that’s what wins games for you because you’re actually competing. You can make some nice highlight dunk or hit a three and fall back in the stands all sweet, but that is not necessarily going to win the game. But when you’re competing like that, man that’s contagious. Everybody wants to play like that.”