Here’s coach Lorenzo Romar talking about No. 16 Washington’s game against Grambling State on Wednesday.
(On UW’s identity) “I think a little bit of both, but more so the defensive end. In ’09 we had a team that had a pretty good defensive mindset. When we first got here, we had a few teams that had a defensive mindset in terms of really pressuring teams and forcing turnovers. But this team right now has a quiet calmness about the defensive end in that we know if we really get after this it’s going to help us win games. And it’s not just lip service. I think we play that way.”
(On players remaining calm when games are tight or the team is losing) “It’s huge. Over the years we’ve talked to our teams about that so many times. About look at this team, you watch, when we play against them they’re an experienced team and they don’t get rattled. They get down, they get up and they play the same way. We talk about that is where you want to be as a basketball team. I feel so far in the eight games our team has showed that over and over in different games. Getting down, being away from home or the ball not going in the basket and still playing a certain way that’s going to allow you to be successful. That’s something that I’ve been really pleased with up until this point.”
(On why players in general aren’t better defensively) “You don’t practice defense in the summer. You practice offense. I don’t think you go to the gym that day playing pick up saying I got to work on my defense. You work on shot, your 1-on-1, your killer crossover. I’m going to dunk on some people. That type of thing. You don’t start thinking defense until the season starts. So there’s a whole different mindset. It’s just like throwing the ball into the post for guards. Guards really treat big men poorly in the summer. They have no regards for big guys in the summer. It’s a shame. And you have to demand that they throw the ball to big guys because they’re not used to doing that in the summer time. So defense is the same way. So when you build your team and you start talking about it, you’re erasing habits that they’ve accumulated over a 4-5 month period since you’ve been done. And you got to get them back doing that. So sometimes it can take awhile. I think it’s really good when you’re able to recruit players with defensive mindsets that they come in and they just know I love to play defense. And those guys are rare. It’s rare that freshmen come in knowing how to play defense. Very rare. Very difficult to get that going so that’s why it takes them a little longer to develop that mindset. But in my opinion that’s why it takes a little longer for that to happen. I don’t know how many players get a lot of recognition for playing defense. How many times do you watch SportsCenter and they’re showing great examples of guys playing defense unless they’re showing blocked shots? Just guys getting down in a stance, locking people up. A guy taking charges. He stops his guy, he passes and he goes over and takes a charge. Have you ever seen that on SportsCenter? It’s just not something that’s noted very much. So kids don’t have that mindset.”
(On Andrew Andrews who attributed UW’s early success to an offseason team meeting) “I believe that meeting was at we call it our training camp, like our retreat. I think that’s when it was. We were talking about holding each other accountable. We got real specific as to who was maybe slacking and why. And we need to make sure we get better at that and hold each other accountable and to it. Yeah, I remember that.”
(On his feelings after the meeting) “I came away from the meeting thinking that was a very positive meeting. I thought we got a lot done in that meeting. I thought if we can stick to this it’s going to help us down the road. I thought it helped establish a foundation so to speak. A team foundation.”
(On Mike Anderson who said biggest difference between last year and this season is everyone buying in) “There’s some reasons I think we’re better at this point of the season than we were last year and that would be right there near the top. I think the defense is better. Robert Upshaw makes a difference. I think our players are older and more experienced. But that buy in – that buy in – is what leads to that. I think the good defense is a byproduct of the buy in. This year, I just think everyone is on the same page. It certainly helps when you win. When you lose, that changes things. When you’re winning, there’s a tendency to buy in and it’s a little easier. I hear players’ comments sometimes when (they’re) not starting or (they’re) not playing as much (and they’d say) ‘I’m fine. As long as we’re winning.’ OK, what if you’re not winning? [Laughs] What are you going to do? How are you going to act? How are you going to react to that? But right now I think everyone is on the same page and I think what Mike Anderson said is a big part of what’s going on.”
(On the buy in) “I feel like we’re tight, but I feel like we’ve had teams that were tighter off the floor as well and that’s good to a point until guys don’t play as much. Or until they don’t get as many shots as they thought. Or until they were going to go to the pros, but the coach is holding them back. When all of that stuff starts happening, they can be tight off the floor, but when that happens and you start to lose – I can predict what starts to happen when you start to lose. I can just predict it. So it makes a difference when you’re winning. This group is tight. I think we’ve had other teams that were tight, but on the floor guys have bought in. Where I see it on the floor is one player in particular – a couple of guys – were getting on this one player in practice. I mean he was frustrated and about to get on him and the guy says hey, just talk to me. Just talk to me. That’s all you got to do. The guy calmed down and said OK, look. When you’re in that position … and they worked it out. I’ve seen a lot of that going on with this team. Guys are coaching each other. Policing each other. That’s buy in. When a guy is not doing what he’s supposed to do and other guys get upset and say hey man, c’mon now. This is what we talked about. We got to do this. That accountability. That’s buy in. It’s unacceptable in guy’s mind. Our co-captains Nigel (Williams-Goss) and Andrew (Andrews), those guys have had a lot to do with that. Mike Anderson has a lot to do with that. Mike is not a captain in name, but he acts like a captain.”