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May 12, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Q&A with Lorenzo Romar, Part II

Lorenzo Romar address several off-court topics.

Lorenzo Romar address several off-court topics.

Apologies for the delay, but here’s Part II of the interview I had with coach Lorenzo Romar a few weeks ago. He talked about several topics including Washington’s big men, the high-post offense, the 2014-15 nonconference schedule and the UW’s basketball-only facility.

(Why do you think next season will be better than last season?) “I think our overall guard play will be improved. We lose C.J. (Wilcox) obviously, but as I said, overall our guard play will be improved. Let’s hope we have a healthy group. That alone is going to allow us to be an improved team. I think this team has been humbled – this group of guys coming back. And I think this team is hungry and has a perspective of how you can’t be complacent at all on the court and in every practice. I just think this team will have a different perspective and a different mentality.”

(Have you been able to look back on last season and pinpoint what went wrong?) “I think so. Some of them are well documented. You give me 50 teams where they had the injuries that we had in the nonconference, I’d say 90 percent of those teams are not going to do as well. So that’s one thing to have the injuries. And it’s another thing to try to learn an entire new defensive system on the fly. I think those things affected us. And then overall admist all of that juggling, I may have gotten sidetracked and not held our current group as accountable as it needed to be and then slippage occurred in different areas. I’ll say that had a lot to do with it.”

(Do you plan to keep the same defense?) “We have to see. We’re going to meet a lot this summer and talk about those things and come up with what we think is gong to be best for our team. The defense in and of itself wasn’t an issue. It’s just we had to re-learn the defense.”

(You normally begin to implement during the offseason, right?) “If we change it we still wouldn’t do that until September because like we found this year, guys knew the old defense more than they knew the new one. So it would be really easy to go back to the old one and add any tweaks that we want to add. So we’d be fine if we started in September when we start our workouts.”

(Then is it a matter of looking at who you have and figuring out if they can play the old defense?) “Yeah. Does our personnel allow us to play this particular defense. Or does our personnel force us to do some different things defensively than what we even did this year. But the change of the defense won’t be a problem. It was the changing of it midstream that presented the problem this year. It was midstream changes that you had to deal with. It’s like when you drive in England. You drive on the left side of the street instead of the right side. It takes awhile to get used to. That’s kind of how we were this year.”

(Two years with the high-post offense, do you like it?) “Yes. I like it.”

(Why?) “We get quality shots out of it. If you go back and look at the film and look at our games – now of course there’s going to be teams that just flat out  guard you and make it very difficult and that’s like that with any offense – but for the most part, I think with our personnel the last couple of years we’ve been able to get quality shots out of it. I think it gives you floor balance. I think it allows you to put guys  in different (spots). You can put anyone on the floor in a situation where they are able to do something with the basketball as far as their strengths are concerned. And some might say, you haven’t done as well and is there a coincidence the last two year. Again, I think people get short sighted. If that is the case, then we we had a losing record in 2007-08 in conference whatever we were doing then was wrong. But what we were doing offensively then was the same thing we were doing before 2007-08 and the same thing we were doing the next four years after that. So it wasn’t that particular offense why we weren’t winning many games. In fact we won more games that last two years than we did during those two years (2007-08). Again, I think when you look at offensively what you’re doing you have to look and see are you getting quality shots? And are you getting quality shots with those that are supposed to be shooting them? If you’re doing that, your offense is sound. Another thing, we had the least amount of turnovers as a team since we’ve been here this past year. So there have been some positives to what we’ve been doing.”

(Just looking at the team you have and it’s so good at the guard spot, it would seem you’d want the ball in the hands of your two best players who are guards. So does the high-post offense take the ball out of their hands and puts it in other places?) “Well when you look at like with UConn, (Shabazz) Napier and (Ryan) Boatright the ball is in their hands quite a bit. But if you really break it down last year and you look at whoever you think our best players are, I think those guys had the ball in their hands quite a bit too. So the ball will get into those guys’ hands. I talked to Scottie Pippen before about the Triangle offense that they ran with the Bulls. Phil Jackson brought it over with the Lakers. It has some similarities to the high-post offense. I asked him why did he like the Triangle offense? He said without hesitation because I got touches. He said playing with Michael Jordan if you were just running sets all the time, he’d get all of the action. But in the Triangle offense, a lot of guys get touches but it doesn’t mean they all shoot the ball. What ends up happening is you’re best players end up getting shots. Any offense you run, the ball does have to be passed. You’re not going to come down with one guy and he doesn’t pass and he shoots it all the time. The ball has to be passed. But is the offense designed to where he gets it back and he’s able to make plays.”

(Allow me this, if I’m the father of a point guard who I thought had a decent shot of making it to the NBA, I’m sending them to Washington because Lorenzo Romar knows guards. You were a NBA point guard. You have a history of sending guards to the league. It seems as if the Triangle offense or the high-post offense puts the ball into the hands of versatile forwards like Scottie Pippen.) “So who was our point guard this year?”

(Nigel Williams-Goss and Andrew Andrews.) “Who were our leading scorers?”

(C.J., Nigel and Andrew.) “And they took the most shots. If that were not the case and this offense did not allow those guys to get the touches, then they would have taken the fifth or sixth amount of shots. Somebody else would have taken them. And when you look at the stats, you look at the three guys that took the most shots after that it might have been Perris Blackwell who we would have liked to have gotten more shots to tell you the truth. I think it worked itself out. If you go back and look at the stats from when we ran a motion offense, I think you’ll find a similar situation. The guys that scores the best got the most shots. So based on your logic what your saying about it our point guards Nigel and Andrew, there’s no way they’re averaging double figures (shot attempts or points). They’re down on the list. It’s going to be somebody else. But those guys were. And Andrew averaged 12 (points) without shooting a high percentage. If he would have shot a normal percentage, he would have averaged even more points.”

(Let’s talk about your bigs. How is Jernard Jarreau’s progress?) “It’s going great. He’s shooting the basketball. He’s running and doing things like that. By midsummer he should be ready to go and be cleared to go play.”

(Will he stay in Seattle this summer?) “He’ll be here for a lot of the summer to continue to rehab and take care of that. For a reference point, Abdul (Gaddy) got hurt in January and by September he was back without a brace an no swelling after workouts. So you’re talking about a two-difference from that.”

(You lose Desmond Simmons, which give you a scholarship for a big man, right?) “For the right player. Not just handing one away because we need to fill a spot.”

(How does the front line look?) “Those guys have to work in the offseason to get better. There’s no doubt about that. Shawn Kemp has had moments, flashes where he’s looked pretty good. What we all have to do and try and help Shawn and get to where that is consistent. The good days that Shawn has, if those days are more consistent, then he’s going to be a pretty good player. Jernard again, you just can’t discount Jernard. Jernard has a chance to be a really good player as well when he comes back. Jernard was not a high flyer or outrun everybody type of a player. So when you look at what he brings to the table, coming back from a knee injury shouldn’t affect him as much as maybe some others and guys that depend solely on athleticism. Jernard is more of a Mike Moser from Oregon who is just crafty, gets deflections, passes and gets offensive rebounds. He’s just all over the place. So he should be fine. Tristan Etienne is coming in. He’s a wildcard because he has ability, it’s just going to be a matter of how quickly he catches on. But he is 6-9/6-10 who is skilled and a good shot-blocker.”

(And what about Gilles Dierickx?) “Gilles put on weight. He’s gotten stronger. The thing with Gilles this spring and summer is to develop a certain amount of confidence. He’s a better player than what he showed last year. I don’t believe he played with as much confidence as he needed to and maybe that was due to us. Maybe that was our fault, but he’s a better player than what he showed.”

(Assistant Brad Jackson’s two-year contract is up. Will you retain him and bring him back?) “Yeah. If I was interviewing you I’d say, are you surprised that he asked you that question.”

(You go to ask. Two years ago, you shook up the staff.) “That was after the guys were here seven and nine years.”

(Again, Jackson returns?) “Yes.”

(Any thought of getting the band back together meaning Ken Bone and Cameron Dollar?) “Well Ken is the only one without¬† a job. Cameron is at Seattle U.”

(You’re right. But with Bone? Does that work?) “Our staff is full right now.”

(One year you created a spot on your staff and had four assistants.) “We did that year when Jim (Shaw) was sick and had kind of to juggle when he came back. But not right now.”

(In terms of the schedule next season, you’re playing in the Wooden Invitational.) “Yeah, the John Wooden Classic in Anaheim.”

(San Diego State comes here, right?) “San Diego State comes here.”

(Are those the big nonconference games?) “I would say those would probably be the biggest high-profile games.”

(UW fans always clamor for a big nonconference game in Seattle. In your mind, does San Diego State fit the bill?) “They were a Sweet Sixteen team and (ranked) No. 8 in the country. They have a lot of those guys back so pretty good team. They may not have the pop of a Kansas, but they may have beaten Kansas this year. They beat some good teams and they’re definitely a quality opponent. We’re still in the works of finishing our schedule, but in terms of home games that’s probably the biggest high-profile team we’ll play.”

(What’s your thoughts on how the Pac-12 is looking?) “I can speak to Arizona, Colorado and UCLA right now because we kind of know what their roster looks like. Like we were talking earlier, I have no idea what guy’s rosters will look like in a month. You just don’t know. In April last year, Oregon I don’t think had Joseph Young, Mike Moser or (Jason) Calliste. So it’s hard to predict. But we know what Arizona has. They’re going to be good again. We know what Colorado has. We’re still waiting I guess to see what (Spencer) Dinwiddie is going to do¬†[Editor’s note: Dinwiddie declared for the NBA draft] but they’ll be good. They have a lot of players coming back. Beyond that, you just have to wait and see what’s going to happen.”

(What are your thoughts on Ernie Kent going to Washington State?) “He knows how to win in this conference and he has a lot of energy. He sat out for a couple of years and stayed active. He stayed close to college basketball. Very close. He’s fired up and ready to go.”

(During his opening press conference at WSU he threw down the gauntlet and talked about intensifying the rivalry between the Cougars and Huskies. Your thoughts?) “You know his teams are going to go out and play up and down. You know they’re going to do that. You know as evidence by two Elite Eights, somehow people totally forgot about that and they forget that I don’t think Oregon went pass the first round before that. Maybe they had a Final Four or a championship team in the 1930s. But if he did it there (Oregon), obviously they have a chance to be successful at Washington State.”

(And Cuonzo Martin at California?) “Those guys are going to play hard. I don’t know what else is going to happen, but they will play hard.”

(When you got hired at Washington there were two coaches making over a million dollars. Now every coach is making at least a million. What does that say about college basketball?) “Those are the times. I think it’s more than just inflation. It’s the way the game is now with the television contracts, the exposure and all of that. I just think across the board more coaches are getting paid higher salaries.”

(And there’s five African-American coaches in the Pac-12.) [Editor’s note: There’s four African-American coaches after Oregon State fired Craig Robinson.] “I think it’s great. I’m a believer that regardless of race, the best coaches should be hired. For almost half of our league to have African-American coaches just I think the athletic directors and the presidents have just looked at who they think is going to do the best job. I think that’s a good thing.”

(Forgot to ask you this earlier, it seems as if Brandon Roy is inching his way back to Washington and perhaps getting into coaching. Would you consider adding him to your staff?) “Eventually there are a few guys that have played here that have talked about coaching. Eventually when they are really ready to settle down and do something like that I think it will be great to have former players come back here working for you, especially the ones that we had a chance to coach.”

(And ‘really ready to settle down’ means what? I’m guessing putting in the long hours.) “Working every day. Being really ready to grind in this profession.”

(Any traction on the basketball-only facility?) “Not anything further. I’m just sure that it will happen. It’s just that it’s all in the works.”

(Is it in the long-term plans?) “I wouldn’t say long term. I think it’s more short term than long term.”

(What will it look like? A small facility or something lavish?) “I think when it’s done, I think it’s going to be done nicely. … I think it’s going to be a pretty nice operations center.”

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