Lorenzo Romar is probably never going to deliver a rant as outrageous as Southern Illinois’ Barry Hinson, who mercilessly ripped and ridiculed his team following a disappointing defeat.
However, Sunday’s post-game press conference following Washington’s 82-70 defeat to No. 10 Connecticut was particularly enlightening.
Romar questioned whether he’s assembled a team of players that’s mentally strong enough to endure the rigors of a basketball season filled with injuries and defections and basketball games filled with runs and momentum swings.
He blamed many of Washington’s 16 turnovers on its negligence.
He questioned the team’s effort, but later said he meant to use the word focus.
And several times he cited a lack of maturity for the team’s defensive problems.
“We have to grow up and understand the importance of very possession and value every possession,” Romar said. “Right now we don’t seem to understand that. You can’t take a play off here or there because it may lead to a run from the other team.”
Washington is 6-5 heading into the holiday break. The Huskies get a few days off before returning for practice Christmas night in preparation for Friday’s game against Mississippi Valley. They finish the non-conference season next Sunday against Hartford. The Pac-12 opener is Jan. 2 at Arizona State.
Romar admits, the Huskies aren’t ready for the Pac-12.
“Right now we are not mature enough to handle runs from the other team it appears,” he said. “We’re not mature enough to handle the adversity that comes along throughout your season. Conference season starts here pretty quickly – we’re on the road four out of the first six games – so we better grow up pretty quickly.”
Not sure if wins against 3-7 Mississippi Valley and 5-8 Hartford is really going to improve the Huskies’ confidence or harden a defense that allows opponents to shoot 49.8 percent from the field and surrenders 80.3 points per game.
Add a new problem to Washington’s list of concerns: turnovers.
In the past four games, the Huskies have committed 16 (San Diego State), 13 (Idaho State), 18 (Tulane) and 16 (UConn) turnovers.
“This has been a re-occurring issue in the last four games,” Romar said. “We were averaging 9 turnovers a game before these last four and whether it was against Tulane, Idaho State, San Diego State or UConn, it’s kind of been the same issue. That bit us in the butt in this game.”
Another troubling trend: Washington plays in spurts against the good teams.
After poor first halves, UW trailed Indiana 52-47 and led Boston College 44-43 in the second half. Against San Diego State, Washington led 30-21 at halftime and fell apart 49-33 after the break.
On Sunday, it was another fantastic start (31-14) followed by a disastrous finish to the first half and a 29-8 UConn run. Connecticut led 43-39 at halftime.In the second half, UW fell behind by double digits after with 12:34 remaining trailed by as much as 14 (62-48). Washington never got any closer than eight points the rest of the way.
“I thought we played excellent basketball for about 12 minutes in the first half,” Romar said. “But the game is 40 minutes, not
Washington entered the game allowing opponents to shoot 49.3 percent from the field, but UW forced UConn to miss 6 of its first 17 (35.3 percent) shots. At halftime, Connecticut was shooting 51.6 percent from the field and finished shooting 54.9 percent.
Considering UConn struggled in the second half (5 for 31 and 0 for 12 on three-pointers) in Wednesday’s 53-51 loss against Stanford’s 2-3 zone, it’s surprising Romar didn’t use a zone more often.
“One time we did it they got a dunk,” Romar said. “I think we did it another time. … They were shooting in the 20s at some point in the game. Why go zone? Then they started to score. We went zone a little bit and it didn’t work out.”
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