After 24 hours of learning more about Washington's opening opponent in the NCAA tournament, coach Lorenzo Romar offered a sobering assessment: The Georgia Bulldogs remind him of Southern California.
The Huskies split with USC during the regular season and acknowledged the Trojans as one of their toughest matchups.
“They are a really good defensive team with strength inside,” Romar said of Georgia, the Huskies’ opponent Friday in Charlotte, N.C. “The way they defend is a little like the way SC defends – that’s who they remind me of. (6-foot-10 forward Trey Thompkins and 6-8 forward Jeremy Price) are very physical. They’re strong down there and active. That’s the main thing that jumps out – their strength down low and how they defend.”
Georgia led the Southeastern Conference in rebound margin and held foes to .396 shooting from the field. No opponent shot better than 50 percent against the Bulldogs.
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Romar could adjust by switching his starting lineup. He didn’t commit one way or the other Monday, but admitted this is the latest he has ever gone into a season without a set starting five.
In all three games of the Pacific-10 Conference tournament last week, he started longtime starters Isaiah Thomas, Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning alongside relative newcomers C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross. The lineup was obviously successful, as the Huskies swept to the tournament title. However, Romar noted that if UW had faced a bigger team such as UCLA or USC, he might have moved 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye into the starting lineup – and acknowledged it could happen Friday.
Romar has long maintained that N’Diaye was recruited, in part, to match up against the kinds of bigger teams that have eliminated the Huskies in other NCAA tournaments.
“This is really where he earns his scholarship now,” Romar said. “(But) that doesn’t mean he’s going to start.”
Also Monday, Romar:
• said the Huskies will fly to North Carolina today in order to allow one extra day to adjust to the change of three time zones;
• declined comment on the exit of UW women’s coach Tia Jackson, whom the school said resigned Monday;
• said he expects a pro-Georgia crowd Friday due to the proximity between Athens, Ga., and Charlotte;
• said those three games in three nights at the Pac-10 tournament was more of a mental strain than physical strain – other than for Thomas, who played 123 of the 125 minutes;
• said Thomas should probably investigate the decision of moving to the NBA after this season, but added he said he hasn’t discussed actual leaving or staying with Thomas;
• praised the contributions of Holiday even though his shots aren’t dropping.
• said most players will be finished with finals before leaving for this trip, although a couple might finish their finals on the road;
• and said it’s useful to be playing Friday rather than Thursday due to the emotional high of the Pac-10 tournament and the long travel day to the East Coast.
No. 7 seed Washington vs. No. 10 Georgia, approx. 6:45 p.m., Ch. 7