During an interview Wednesday morning with KJR-AM radio, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar didn’t clear up the uncertainty surrounding Robert Uphshaw.
When asked about the 7-foot sophomore center, Romar said: “He’s sitting out this year and going to class and just getting himself prepared hopefully for his future.”
When asked if Upshaw will be with the team season, Romar said: “We’re just waiting. He’s in school. We’ll kind of cross the bridge when we get there. But right now, we’ll just conduct business as usual and then we’ll see.”
With or without Upshaw, Romar said there’s a lot to be excited about for next season’s team.
“The attitude of our guys not making the NCAA tournament or the NIT and knowing that we had some games that we were more than capable of winning and should have won those games, but didn’t get it done. I think our guys are humbled. I think our guys are extremely hungry. And there’s a number of guys that I’ve talked to already that said they can not wait to get going. They can not wait for spring workouts because they don’t want to be in that position. So when you have a group that’s dialed in like that already, that’s a great start.”
Romar talked highly of Washington’s returning backcourt featuring Nigel Williams-Goss, who was voted first team all-freshman in the Pac-12, and Andrew Andrews, who averaged 17.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in the six games prior to the Pac-12 Tournament.
Romar said freshman guard Darin Johnson showed promise in the conference tournament. Romar admitted guard Mike Anderson lost confidence while playing out of position at forward during his first year at UW, but believes a fresh start will help him improve next season.
Romar believes Timberline High guard Donaven Dorsey, an incoming 6-6 freshman wing, can contribute immediately next season.
Romar said Quevyn Winters, who played at Indian Hills Community College (Iowa), is a very good three-point shooter. Winters gave a verbal commitment to play at Washington and is expected to sign scholarship papers next month.
“In terms of our backcourt, we feel good about what we have coming back,” Romar said.
Romar also expressed optimism with the front court, particularly the return of sophomore forward Jernard Jarreau, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
Romar also mentioned junior forward Shawn Kemp Jr.
“If we can put everything together next year with the hunger that we have and the guys coming back – the experience that we have – I think we can make the next step,” Romar said.
Romar also addressed the story involving Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, who introduced a bill in the Washington state Legislature that would require Washington and Gonzaga to renew their basketball series.
“We don’t need all of that for us to play again,” Romar said. “I said we were going to end up playing again. We don’t need all of that. There it is.”
The teams will not play each other next season, however, Romar added: “It’s closer than people might think. … There has been communication.”
Romar said when UW and Gonzaga play in Seattle that it “probably won’t” be at at KeyArena, which suggest the game will be held at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The two schools had been at odds on the game’s venue. Gonzaga favors a home-and-home campus series while in 2009 Washington countered with a three-year deal to play all games at KeyArena.
Washington leads the series 30-13, but Gonzaga won eight of the previous nine when the Huskies opted to suspend the series after a 97-77 loss on Dec. 9, 2006.
Romar also gave his Final Four picks: Florida, Michigan State, Arizona and Louisville. He picked Michigan State to beat Louisville for the national title.
THURSDAY MORNING LINKS:
— In what could be a landmark decision, the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Northwestern football players have the right to unionize as employees. Northwestern is expected to appeal to the national board in Washington, D.C.
— Nick Johnson is one of the most popular players in the history of Arizona Wildcats basketball.
— Add Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski to the list of Pac-12 players who are considering leaving school early for the NBA draft.
— There’s history between UCLA and Florida, who meet in the NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen. And it’s not good history for the Bruins. However, it’s ancient history for the current UCLA players. Confused yet?
— UCLA is doing a good job on the defensive end during the postseason and that explains why the Bruins are in the Sweet 16.
— Winning looks good on Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins.
— No. 10 seed Stanford is a popular sleeper pick to win the NCAA tourney. However, the Cardinal don’t think of themselves as a darkhorse candidate. Forward Josh Huestis told the San Francisco Chronicle: “We pride ourselves on being a team that believes we can win this whole thing.”
— San Jose Mercury-News columnist Mark Purdy is finding it hard to believe in Stanford’s recent success. He writes: “Yes, Stanford is really here at the Sweet 16. Yes, the men’s team. Witnessed it Wednesday.”
— Dwight Powell is ready for his close-up.
— California’s season came to an end Wednesday night in dramatic fashion. The No. 2 seeded Golden Bears suffered a heartbreaking defeat 67-65 defeat to No. 1 seed SMU in the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals in Dallas. Justin Cobbs gave Cal a one-point lead with less than 18 seconds left. However, the Mustangs scored the final basket with 6.5 seconds remaining. Cobbs tried to answer, but his shot at the buzzer rolled off the rim. Cobbs had 18 points and David Kravish 12 for Cal, which finished 21-14. The Bears may have been disappointed not making the NCAA tourney, but three games in the NIT allowed highly-touted freshman Jabari Bird to perhaps rediscover his game. He struggled with consistency during the season and tallied just 20 point in the five games before the NIT. Last night, Bird led Cal with 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting. In the NIT, he averaged 16.6 points, which doubled his 8.3 season scoring average.
— Another name to consider for the vacant Washington State job: New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies.
— Utah took major strides this season, but the Utes expect to be even better next season.
TODAY’S PAC-12 SCHEDULE:
NCAA West Region – Anaheim, Calif. (Honda Center)
No. 1 Arizona (32-4) vs. No. 4-San Diego (31-4), 7:17 p.m. PT ………… TBS
NCAA South Region – Memphis, Tenn. (FedEx Forum)
No. 10 Stanford (23-12) vs. No. 11 Dayton (25-10), 4:15 p.m. …………. CBS
No. 1 Florida (34-2) vs. No. 4 UCLA (28-8), 6:45 p.m. PT ……………… CBS