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Husky Men's Basketball

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

January 31, 2012 at 5:03 AM

Lorenzo Romar: “This is not our ceiling”

Coach Lorenzo Romar acknowledged Washington, which has 10 of the last 13 games, is playing its best basketball of the season. At one point the Huskies were 4-4 and had lost five out of seven games.
Given the early struggles and the recent success, Romar gave the team a B-minus when asked to grade Washington’s performance during the first half of the Pac-12 season. Washington (14-7, 7-2) is tied for first in the conference with California (17-5, 7-2).
“We still have a ways to go,” he said Monday on his weekly radio show.
Romar said C.J. Wilcox, who returned last week after missing three games due to a stress fracture in his left leg, doesn’t practice during the week. The sophomore guard has to rest his hip between games and it sounds as if the Huskies will continue with this regime for the rest of the season.
Romar said freshman guard Tony Wroten Jr. is the team’s most improved player and said there’s still a chance freshman Martin Breuing and Shawn Kemp Jr. can find minutes in the rotation.
Romar joked he may have put a jinx on Aziz N’Diaye who has converted just 2 of his last 18 free throws.
HERE’S A PORTION OF THE INTERVIEW:


(On Wilcox) “He came out OK. He doesn’t practice. He just plays in the games to try to manage that stress fracture. If he was able to sit out close to three weeks and come in after 10 minutes the way he did at Arizona, then I think each week he’ll do just fine.”
(On N’Diaye’s free throws) “I might have jinxed him. He was shooting – three games ago – 87 percent. I think it was 7 of 8 or something like that. And I was teasing the guys, I said guess who’s the second best free throw shooter is on the team in league games. They didn’t know. I said Aziz. And since then, his numbers have been (down) so I should have kept my mouth shut. But he spends countless on that free throw line and I say hours. I don’t mean minutes. He’s constantly … at the foul line just shooting foul shots after foul shots working on his technique. It’s just been tough for him to get that ball to go down. When he hits a few like it was a game here when he was 4 for 4. He hits a couple, he can hit a couple of more. But once he gets in that rut, he starts to miss, it’s hard for him mentally to overcome that.”
(On altering N’Diaye’s FT mechanics) “We’ve altered them. It’s a work in progress. … There are some guys out there Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Chris Dudley, Otis Birdsong one of the greatest shooters to ever play was a 50 percent foul shooter. They work work on it and work on it. and it’s hard to get better and some of them it’s just hard to get over the hump.”
(On N’Diaye’s offense) “If you did a somersault and threw it up over your head and it went in 50 percent of the time, we would call a play for you to shoot that shot. With Aziz he has been making his shots more so we are calling his number more. If you produce you get more possessions with your number being called. Before that happened, he had to get better at it. On a daily basis, him and Coach (Paul) Fortier are on the side basket working. He’s working with Coach Fortier constantly. Some of those things that him and Coach Fortier have working on … are now starting to take place in the ball game. I think that’s what we’re seeing and now his confidence is growing.”
(On inbound plays, particularly the five-second call late against Arizona) “We lined up across the foul line and we were supposed to, the guy farthest was supposed to come in front and go long. The other guy we were trying to get the ball to was C.J. and for whatever reason C.J. held too long before he went. That’s something that we run all the time and we get the ball. That particular time we held our position too long therefore the window you have to be open, wasn’t open.
(On the last 3-5 minutes of the Arizona game) “They had 15 points in the last three minutes. That was our issue. We did not get stops and we turned the ball over the one time. We didn’t make foul shots. If we make our foul shots down the stretch and just stop them half the time that’s probably a 12-14 point victory.
(On UCLA) “Early on there were some personality issues with that team that Coach Howland dealt with and I think right now they’re a better team as a result of them dealing with that. They’re playing their best basketball of the year right now. There’s some things he didn’t count on happening before the year started that have happened.”
(On Wroten) “There was a lot of hype surrounding Tony Wroten and he scored over 20 points in the Garden early against Duke, but he still might be our most improved player from the beginning to right now. The way he’s in much more control. He’s a better defender. And then he’s filling up the stat sheet in a lot of ways.”
(On the rotation) “The potential to use a different starting lineup, I wouldn’t quite use that word but I would just say there could always be changes. Right now things are going OK with the way we are and I think there’s more of a chance for depth rotations. Martin Breunig and Shawn Kemp Jr. are not out of this in terms of rotation. There’s still an opportunity they could be in there. They could get in the mix there and they’re continuing to work hard. We do have probably seven for sure or 7 1/2 that we’ve been going with.”
(On if there’s a better rivalry on the West Coast than the one between UW and Arizona) “I know the Gonzaga-St. Mary’s is a pretty good rivalry. Obviously UCLA and USC. Our rival is Washington State because it’s in state, but I think in terms of just two teams going at each other head to head and with the games coming down to the wire and not knowing what to expect other than the fact that it’s going to be a hard fought game, I think it’s grown to be a really, really good healthy rivalry. We go against those guys in recruiting all the time and not once have I heard them negative recruit us. Every time they recruit, they recruit in a way that’s positive. They believe in their program and that’s what they talk about. When we get out on the floor, they go at us and we go at them. So I think it’s been a really good healthy rivalry.”
(On the mindset at the midpoint of the Pac-12 season) “We still have a ways to go. We still can get better. This is not our ceiling this weekend. We can become a better basketball team.”
(On UW’s trend of starting slowing and finishing fast) “You definitely want to be playing your best basketball at the end of the year, but hopefully you’re already playing good basketball before that and now you’re playing even better basketball. Over the years we’ve not played good basketball in stretches early and then we turn it around and our playing our best. It is not by design. It is not something we sit down with as a staff and say OK we got to fix this so we start out really slowly so that by the end we’re really playing well. That’s not by design. It just kind of happens that way. It’s still not over. We still have nine conference games left and five of those are on the road. We could take a step back at any time. We just have to make sure that we can control what we can control.”

Comments | Topics: C.J. Wilcox, UCLA

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