The 2003-04 Huskies not only gave Lorenzo Romar his first NCAA tournament team at Washington, it also gave him a beacon of hope that he turns to when darkness settles around his program.
Clouds certainly have descended on his current team, which fell out of the national rankings Monday and into the Pacific-10 Conference cellar after losing a third straight league game Sunday at Arizona.
However, their 1-3 league record doesn’t look so bad when compared with the 2003-04 team. Those Huskies lost their first five league games. And they seemed well on their way to losing their sixth before rallying from 16 points down against Oregon State, winning in overtime, closing the season with a 14-3 rush and making it to the Big Dance.
Romar regularly cites that team as a reminder of how quickly a season can turn. And he did so again over the weekend in Arizona.
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And while that 2003-04 team had a roster including Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson, Bobby Jones, Will Conroy, Mike Jensen and Tre Simmons, Romar said he sees similar potential in his current group.
“No question; no question,” he said Saturday, after the loss to Arizona State but before the loss to Arizona. “At times we’re just so close to doing it right. We just have to have consistency. Somewhere we’ve got to get that. When we were 0-5 – I hate to always bring up the past – but we were losing these games by 16 or more just about every game. This team, (at Arizona State) it got away from us, but we just have to be more consistent.”
Even going into this season, it seemed clear that this UW team lacked both size and outside shooting.
Romar concedes those kinds of problems aren’t easily solved during the course of a season. But he thinks there are players on the roster who can provide in the coming weeks the kind of shooting and inside presence that the team has lacked so far.
“To me, Tyreese Breshers is almost like a guy like Mike Gerrity for USC,” Romar said. “They didn’t have him the entire first part of the year, but now he becomes eligible and it changes their team. (Breshers is) almost like a guy that’s not eligible right now, in that he’s finding his way. There’s going to come a point in time – and I hope it’s soon – all of a sudden he provides that low-post presence.”
Breshers’ is a 6-foot-7, 255-pound redshirt freshman who sat out last season because of leg injuries. Now, those injuries are behind him, but he is still building stamina after his long layoff.
However, Romar moved Breshers into the starting lineup at the start of the Arizona trip while awaiting the breakthrough.
Romar has similar hopes that other players can emerge as dependable scoring options behind Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas.
“Scott (Suggs) has shown that he can knock the shot down; so has Elston (Turner),” Romar said. “It’s not a team where from the outside we have no one who can ever make one. We’ve got some candidates. It’s just a matter of stepping up. And not to mention, that Abdul (Gaddy) is one of those guys like Tyreese, too. When he starts to really play well, we’re going to get easier baskets.”
There seemed to be some indication of that even in Washington’s 87-70 loss at Arizona.
Turner provided 12 points while hitting three of six 3-pointers; and Suggs had six points with one trey.
Meanwhile, Gaddy broke out for a career-high 13 points. And he said after the game that he hopes to build on that through the rest of his freshman season.
“It just gives me more confidence going into more games,” he said. “… I just need to play harder for my team because that’s what my team needs me to do.”
The Huskies are back home this week, facing Stanford at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.