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October 8, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Video: Lorenzo Romar at UW media day

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Here’s video (above) and a transcript of most of the press conference with coach Lorenzo Romar at Washington’s media day.

(Opening Statement) “Always fun for this time of the year to show up. I’ve been as usual going through football and really enjoying this football season so far, but also been able to enjoy our group of guys that are back here that are going to be playing for us this season. We just had several practices. I would describe our practices in terms of the new format where we can go a little earlier. Getting everything fixed up. We’re about to paint. So we’re putting the tape on and getting everything cleaned up so we can do the job. That’s what these practices have been like. A lot of teaching, teaching of drills, trying to get organized, teaching the guys the system so that when we go Monday – this coming Monday – which is kind of the normal time. This Friday would be the normal time we would usually start practice, but come Monday is when we’ll really have the practices we would like to have. All of them leading up to now have just been a lot of teaching and getting organized.”

(Has C.J. been available or is he limited?) “He’s limited now just to make sure everything is OK from that surgery. He’ll start to do more drills next week. From there he should be fine for the season.”

(Any other health issues?) “We’ve got nagging back injuries and groins and things like that, but nothing that’s serious.”

(Specific questions you’re looking at going into this year?) “Well we want to make sure that we play the way we’re accustomed to playing. That’s an attack-type fashion and that we’re playing up-tempo basketball. Last year it seemed like the majority of our possessions were in the half court and it’s a big goal of ours to make sure that doesn’t happen as much this year. You have to play half-court basketball to be somewhat effective if you’re going to be successful in your season, but our approach is that we’d like to push the ball in the open floor as much as possible.”

(What did you learn from last year and changes you made?) “You need to be able to stay healthy. I commented several times in our first 8-9 years that we were very fortunate to have avoided the injury bug. I remember UCLA had gone through that. It seemed like every year someone hurting. I remember one year Cal Berkeley had Theo Robertson out. I think Patrick Christopher was out. Jorge Gutierrez was out. Harper Kamp was out. They weren’t having a very good non-conference and when all of those guys came back, they started to play very well. I remember just thinking – man knock on wood – we haven’t had this. Well it’s hit us the last couple of years. You have some key injuries that you have to go out and try and do well it takes a lot away from what you’re trying to accomplish. That might be one of the main things that hit us and along with that that, depth. In order to play the way we want to play we have to have depth and quality depth is what I’m talking about.”

(Can you talk about having so much length compared to past years?)  “You watch our team, you go out this is I believe, this is the tallest roster we’ve had since we’ve been here. Jernard Jarreau is 6-foot-10, Robert Upshaw, who is redshirting, is a 7-footer; Gilles (Dierickx) is close to 7 foot. Shawn Kemp is 6-9, Perris is 6-9. We just haven’t had that since we’ve been here and they’re all pretty good basketball players. Perris (Blackwell) is – boy I know we only have him for a year and I wish we had him for a year and at least one more game or two more games or whatever we could get out of him more than a year – but we’re going to enjoy this year having him because he’s experienced, he’s not going to be intimidated and he’s a good basketball player. He gives us an option that we just haven’t had in a few years and that is a guy that we can throw the ball to and he’s going to do something productive with it. Shawn Kemp, Jernard Jarreau – those are guys we are hopeful and expecting, to take the next step – not unlike past years with guys like Quincy Pondexter, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Dentmon where they hit a point in their careers when they were upperclassmen and they really come on. That’s what we’re hoping for in terms of our bigs.”

(Does it take longer for the guards to get used to the so many bigs?) “No. The only thing is we’re going to demand that you throw Perris Blackwell the ball. Him and then after that Shawn Kemp are probably our two best low-post options. Last year Shawn was hurt for the first several weeks of the season and we didn’t have much we could do down low. That wasn’t those guys’ strengths. Our bigs this year, we do feel like we have more of a low-post game that can be a strength, so the guards’ adjustment will only be we have to make sure to look to throw those guys the ball.”

(Do you alter what you do in terms of the high-post offense? “We’ve made some changes in terms of getting into it quicker, but aside from that we’re running the same high-post offense.”

(Who is best suited to get to the free throw line in the high post offense?) “Jernard Jarreau is probably the best and again when we’re talking about the high post offense, we start our offense out with a one-guard front. What that means is that it’s pretty much a 1-4 alignment. In a two-guard front you have two guards up front and three across the foul line. The one in the middle is always the high post. He becomes like a setter in volleyball. He’s always there. That’s his job. But in a one-guard front either post – based on what side you throw the ball into – they become the high post. So if you enter the ball through Jernard, he probably is the most versatile. He can knock the shot down. He can put the ball on the floor and drive by you. He can also complete the pass. But the rest of our guys are functional. There’s not anyone that is bad at it. So the rest of guys are functional. They can do it and they are getting better.”

(You had the most changes on the coaching staff than ever before. Why was that needed?)  “I don’t know. When we talk about whether it was needed, it’s something that implies it was something we had to go do. Some things started to work itself out last year at this time where it was just, one of our coaches was sick. We had to take on someone else and it kind of began to evolve that way. Certain guys became available. It wasn’t something where we set out and just said OK we’re going to have to make these wholesale changes. It just kind of worked itself out.”

(Can you talk about the three freshman and what you see from them?) “The three freshmen would be Nigel Williams-Goss, Jahmel Taylor and Darin Johnson. Jahmel Taylor is one of the guys that has had the nagging injuries where he really hasn’t been able to practice yet. He’ll be able to do 5-on-0, 2-on-0 stuff this week and then start to progress more. Jahmel is about 5-11. He’s quick. He can push the ball with really good quickness but he also can also guard the ball. And the way we want to defend, he really fits in well because he can pressure the basketball. He can break the defense down, he’s a really good shooter. Darin Johnson, we’ve been really pleased with Darin Johnson. He’s strong, he’s athletic, he’s aggressive. We would imagine that when he figures everything out in what we’re trying to do he’ll get to the foul line quite a bit and he compliments that aggressive mentality with a nice jump shot. And then Nigel Williams-Goss is a floor general that understands who he is as a basketball player. Our guys like playing with him. He gets guys the basketball, but in his own right it’s not 5-on-4. Sometimes you have guards out there that can facilitate the offense, but you don’t have to guard them. I don’t like for our system to have those type of guards. You have to guard him as well. Mike Anderson is a junior-college transfer that is a versatile guard that can play all three positions out there on the floor and can defend all three positions. Just kind of like a utility guy that can do a little bit of everything pretty well.”

(Who has stepped up as vocal leaders? “Andrew leads. Nigel as a freshman is one of the more vocal guys on the team. Perris Blackwell is vocal. We have several guys that are vocal on our roster.”

(What’s going to set one guy apart in the position battles?) “We always say that coaches don’t decide who plays, the players do. You act upon what the players give you out there. I’ve also said that the worst thing to me is to have five guys competing for two spots and they aren’t consistent. So it’s very frustrating for the coaches and them because one day they are good and the next three days they’re not good and the replacement replaces them the day they aren’t good and one day they’re good and they are even again and no one steps up. That is the worst. I think it’ll be different this year. I think it’ll be more like where guys are more consistent making plays every day and at that point I don’t care how many of them there are, you find a way to play them. It’s just that simple contrary to what some might be led to believe. Defense obviously is something that can set you apart. It helps when you can make a basket. That always helps in our game. So what five players make the best team. The five best players don’t always make the best team. What five players make the best team? Tthat’s kind of how we pick our starting lineup when it gets here. Guys that defend, work their tails off and pick up what we’re doing they usually get ahead of everyone.”

(Do you plan to press more?) “That’s always been interesting to me because people will say guys why aren’t you pressing anymore? We’ve never pressed – ever – since we’ve been here. After free throws we would press at times. Now we would pick up early and we’ll do more picking up early this year. But we’ve never gone out and pressed for an entire year; situationally we would. But we’re going to pick up earlier and try and establish our pressure earlier than we have in a while.”

(Do you have a rotation number in mind?) “No number. There will be more than seven.”

(Who has stepped it up in the off-season and is a candidate for most improved?) “Jernard Jarreau looks like he has stepped it up and is playing stronger, playing with more confidence. He would be one that in terms of our returners that has caught our eye a little bit.”

(Jerreau 7-foot?) “He would love that if you told him he was seven foot. He’s not 7-foot. He’s 6-10. We all measured everyone a couple of weeks back officially and he’s 6-foot-10.”

(Do you think you’ll play with more of an edge than last year?) “I think we will. It was already asked about vocal players on our team. We’re more vocal. I think we have more players with an edge to them. I just think we’ll have more of an edge and play with more of an edge this year than we did last year.”

(Has the new Husky Stadium helped basketball in any way?) “Nah. I haven’t noticed it yet. Obviously it’s a lot of fun for recruits to come to the football games. That’s a lot of fun. When we haven’t done as well as we’ve done this year, that’s a lot of fun. I think it’s great for our whole athletic department and our university how well football team is doing.”

(Is there a trickle-down effect in terms of facilities?) “We will, there’s definite plans for an operations building for our basketball program. It just hasn’t happened yet. If that’s what you’re referring to, then yes.”

(Who is the Pac-12 favorite?) “I don’t think there’s any question, you’d have to pick Arizona.”

(Why?) “They’ve got about 75 pros on their team. Nah. Obviously I’m just joking. There’s only 13 on the roster and on scholarship. But Nick Johnson is an all-conference guard. T.J. McConnell sat out last year but he’s a point guard that has played at the college level and has been successful. He is a true point guard. When you talk about Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski, front-line players that went through their freshman year that are highly touted. After you get your freshman year under your belt and you come back as a sophomore there can be a huge improvement. Rondae Jefferson is a freshman that will play minutes. And then Aaron Gordon who is one of the best players in our conference as a freshman. You put all of that together and it’s pretty good. I don’t know anyone who can boasts they have that type of personnel on their roster. And Sean Miller and his staff do a great job of coaching those guys.”

(You have a sense of how many Pac-12 teams will make the NCAA tournament?) “I don’t know.”

(Think the conference is deep enough to send six teams?) “We just have to – I don’t know the answer. We just have to make sure we’re up there somewhere. But I really don’t know the answer to that.”

(What is the strength of the team?) “I think versatility will be the strength of our team. We have a chance to be effective inside. We have a chance to be effective outside. I think if we’re in a halfcourt game, we can be effective. If we’re in an up-tempo, wide-open game I think we can be effective. I think that would be one of our strengths.”

(Is the non-conference trip to New York a little motivator?) “We were 18-16 last year and did not make the NCAA tournament. I think we start with that motivation and go from there. It doesn’t matter who we play, we better be the best we can be. Certainly going to New York is going to be a fun trip. That’s a trip that everyone looks forward to, but we’re going to look forward to our home opener. We’re going to look forward to the game after that. We’re looking forward to the season. We’re anxious to get back and get that sour taste out of our mouths from last year.”

(What will Williams-Goss bring at point guard that’s different from what you had in past years?) “I think his leadership ability and his steadiness and consistency is something that’s really going to help our team. Fortunate that we have him and Andrew Andrews. Those guys both are going to be really good point guards. They’re different, but they’re both very, very effective. But you asked me about NIgel. Boy he’s just a great leader. Does things right and doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes.”

(After C.J. who do you think will be your most consistent scorer?) “Perris Blackwell. Mark that one down.”

(On the low block?) “On the low block. He weighs 270 pounds and he’s nimble. A nimble 270 pounds. He just knows how to seal you. Get you on his hip and there’s not much you can do at that point. He scores it with his left hand, his right hand. He’s really good around the basket and he can step out and hit a 16, 17-footer as well. We are counting on him to score points for us.”

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