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Husky Men's Basketball

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

February 3, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Lorenzo Romar: “I have to look myself in the mirror and make sure we change things around”

Photo credit: AP Photo – Don Ryan
Admittedly the 20th-ranked Washington Huskies have somehow stumbled into a midseason crossroad that threatens to undo a season that promised to be elite if not sweet.
However, no one talks about the NCAA tournament anymore. In fact, coach Lorenzo Romar tried to redirect the probing questions that hounded the Huskies before Thursday’s 68-56 upset at Oregon State.
No more talk about getting the ball inside to Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Forget about the abysmal three-point shooting. Even UW’s turnovers didn’t bother Romar all that much.
He spent the majority of the post-game interview addressing UW’s defensive breakdowns, which began three games ago.
We noted the poor three-point defense against Arizona State, but it wasn’t a major concern in the 88-75 victory. The Sun Devils shot 50 percent from the field and 60 percent (9 of 15) on three-pointers.
That should have been a red flag.
Then Washington State blasts UW for 87 points while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 47.1 percent (8 of 17) on treys.
The warning sirens should have sounded.
But it wasn’t until the Huskies pulled to within 51-50 and allowed Oregon State to outscore them 17-6 over the final 8:02 minutes that it become apparent what’s been the real problem for the Huskies.
It’s not their inability to score against zone defenses, win on the road or finding a consistent third scorer.
Romar said the problems are defensive breakdowns and poor rebounding.
Against Stanford, UW failed to box out on a critical possession in the final minutes and surrendered a game-winning putback.
The same thing happened against Michigan State. The Huskies played well defensively in the loss at Texas A&M, however, they were unable to play defense without fouling that led to the defeat against Kentucky.
It was the same thing tonight. Oregon State attempted 38 free throws and sank 24. Sophomore guard Jared Cunningham nearly took as many foul shots (13 of 17) as Washington (9 of 19).
The disparity wasn’t the byproduct of shoddy officiating, although there was some questionable calls. The Beavers were simply more aggressive, especially in the end. Especially Cunningham, who attempted 12 FTs in the second half.
“We weren’t disciplined on defense tonight,” he said. “Far too many gambles, took far too many chances. We can sit around and talk about what player didn’t get enough shots and what player didn’t (step up but,) if we’re not disciplined on defense that is on me. That’s my fault.
“I have to get our guys to play better defense. It’s that simple.”
He continued.
“We’re capable of doing it,” Romar said. “We’ve done it before, but we’ve gotten away from it a little bit. This is the third straight game where we haven’t guarded the way we’re capable of.
“And if that’s going on, I have to look myself in the mirror and make sure we change things around.”
And there’s more.
“Chronic is probably too strong a word, but we have an issue right now,” Romar said. “Going into the Washington State game we had an issue. … That’s not to take anything away from those teams at all. They deserve to win, but we got to give ourselves a better chance by defending.”
I asked Romar if he’s going to address the defensive lapses by changing the scheme or changing the personnel.
“We don’t need to change the scheme,” he said. “It’s been effective for nine years so we’ll stick with the same scheme. I don’t think personnel is an issue because it’s not one or two guys. It’s the team. So if it’s the team, then that’s on me.
“If it’s one guy or two guy, we change them. But if it’s the team, it’s something I’m not doing right.”
Doesn’t sound as if Romar is going to tinker with the lineup or the rotation, but then there’s not many answers on the bench right now. Washington’s depth was a strength early this season, but the reserves have struggled recently.

— If you had to pick a UW star, then it had to be Scott Suggs who came up big on the road for the first time in his career. Suggs’ shooting gave the Huskies a chance. He connected on 5 of 11 three-pointers for a career-best 18 points. He also went to the free throw line for the first time in 12 games and sank 3 of 4 shots. And he did it all while playing just 25 minutes. After committing five turnovers on Sunday, Suggs took care of the ball and didn’t commit a turnover tonight.
— Bryan-Amaning better get used to the kind of suffocating zone he’s seen the past two games because every team from hence forth will surround him with bodies. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but it was the quiet double double. The UW forward needed 12 shots and missed seven. He also misfired on four of six free throws. Despite being in foul trouble, Bryan-Amaning played 32 minutes. In the previous game against OSU, he was clearly the best conditioned big man on the floor and literally sprinted past the Beavers. Tonight the Huskies barely got the transition game going, which forced Bryan-Amaning to work against set defenses. Too often the Huskies appeared impatient and didn’t wait for him to get position before jacking up a three-pointer. Other times, Bryan-Amaning got the ball and simply missed a good shot.
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Need 2 take a step bk relax and stop puttin pressure on myself when I play well we win #simple! Can’t have n e more games like this!!less than a minute ago via ƜberTwitter

— After Sunday’s seven-turnover performance, Isaiah Thomas vowed “it won’t happen again.” Well, it happened again. Four days later. This time, his miscues might have been more costly because he was the only Husky who couldn’t take care of the basketball. And they were careless turnovers that killed fast breaks or scoring opportunities. Aside from the shoddy ball handling, Thomas couldn’t find the range from the perimeter. He was 2 for 11 from the field and 1 for 6 on three-pointers.
— Remember when Justin Holiday was a lockdown defender? It’s been awhile since he’s shut anyone down. And when Romar talks about gambling and taking too many chances defensively, he might be talking about Holiday. It was a problem against Michigan State when Holiday got caught cheating and surrendered a critical three-pointer in the final minutes. He was victimized by Cunningham on a baseline move and he’s had difficulty keeping opponents in front of him. Holiday did a fantastic job corralling seven rebounds, but offensively he struggled. Not sure what happened when he missed a point-blank layup and the putback. The misses led to a 2-for-8 shooting performance and just four points.
Aziz N’Diaye followed his poor outing on Sunday with another clunker. Maybe he’s tired after 21 games and 16 starts. Maybe he still struggles against zone defenses. Whatever the reason, he was ineffective again and this time it had nothing to do with foul trouble. N’Diaye had just one foul in 12 scoreless minutes. He also had as many turnovers (two) as rebounds.
Darnell Gant had been focusing on rebounding and in three of the previous four games, he collected at least six boards. Tonight he had one in 23 minutes. He also had four points on 2-for-6 shooting.
— This just hasn’t been Venoy Overton’s season. He started his senior campaign injured and suffered more injuries early in the season. Lately he’s been unable to duplicate the spark off the bench that he provided last season. He’s not annoying defensively. He’s not unnerving opponents with pressure defense and he’s not igniting the transition offense. In the second half, Overton blew past a defender and knifed in the lane for a acrobatic layup. It was a beautiful play, but he hadn’t done that in a long time. Mostly, Overton commits a questionable foul and spends time seeking clarification from the officials.
— Defensive lapses plagued Terrence Ross once again. At least twice, it appeared as if Romar had to remind or instruct the freshman on where he needed to be defensively. Ross’ talent is undeniable. Exhibit A: His putback dunk in the first half that was nothing short of spectacular. He also had four rebounds, the most for a UW guard. If he could have knocked down a three-pointer – he was 0 for 3 – maybe he would have played more than 16 minutes.
C.J. Wilcox played for the first time since suffering a concussion last week in practice and he appeared tentative. On one occasion, Romar yelled “shoot” to the UW sharpshooter. He shot it and missed. No worries. The next time he got, he shot again. This time he made it. Still Wilcox didn’t appear comfortable handling the ball and may have been favoring his ankle. He played eight minutes and finished with three points.
— Oregon State coach Craig Robinson on the Beavers’ defense: “It was primarily the 2-3. I don’t think we played any 1-3-1 tonight. The game plan has been altered a bit when we play them, because they’re just such a good team that we thought that we could keep it packed in and make them beat us from the outside that would be what we would try and do. Our guys did a great job. Our guys did a really good job on closing out on their shooters. I mean Suggs really hurt us in the first half, but we did such a good job on getting out to guys when they were open for a second quickly enough where they didn’t think they were open. That’s huge when you are playing zone. I think going with a bigger lineup helped that.”
— And finally, a look at the statistics. OSU had more rebounds (47-32), points in the paint (34-22) and fast break points (12-8). The Huskies (15-6) fell out of first place and they’re tied with UCLA at 7-3 for second. Even more distressing, Oregon doesn’t look like a cupcake anymore. The Ducks blasted Washington State 69-43, setting up a pivotal game on Saturday for the Huskies.
Plus/minus stats
Game differential:
First half 0, Second half -12, Final -12
Thomas: +3, -9, -6
Suggs: +8, -8, 0
Holiday: +5, -13, -8
MBA: 0, -8, -8
N’Diaye: 0, 0, 0
Gant: -3, -8, -11
Ross: -2, -3, -5
Overton: -8, -8, -16
Wilcox: -3, -3, -6
Total: 0, -60, -60

Comments | Topics: C.J. Wilcox, Scott Suggs, top 25


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