Huskies men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters today for the first time since UW returned from last week’s trip to the Bahamas. Washington hosts Cal State-Fullerton at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Romar talked about a variety of topics, but most of the time was spent discussing the NCAA’s new rules emphases. The Huskies have been called for 167 fouls in six games. Their average of 27.8 fouls per game is the highest in the nation.
(On recovering from the long travel) “I think at this point, we’re recovering. I think we’re recovering pretty well. It got rough. Thought it got rough out there in the Bahamas with us, but I think we’re holding up pretty good right now.”
(On scheduling eight consecutive home games after going to China and the Bahamas) “When we scheduled, we knew that between going to China and going to the Bahamas, the level of competition that we were going to face, it was going to take every bit of what we had within us to be ready to go and fight through the travel and all that. So we tried to be a week removed from when we got back from the Bahamas, which we were. I think it’s eight days. then play another game, have a few more days off before we play again, and that was by design, because we knew it was going to take quite a long time for us to recover from that. That’s just something you don’t … during your regular season, you just don’t do. You hate it when the Arizona trip, you play Arizona on a Wednesday, Arizona State on a Saturday or Sunday – we always debate, should we fly back, or just stay there? Because if we fly back, that’s A LOT. Arizona back to Seattle, Seattle back to Arizona – that’s A LOT. China, back. Bahamas, back – THAT’S a lot. So it was difficult, but man, I was impressed with our guys, how we handled the whole thing. I thought our guys did a phenomenal job of fighting through everything that was put before us. We’re not undefeated, that’s for sure, but it’s not due to a lack of effort.”
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(Learn anything from that trip?) “I like coaching our team, I know that much. I think we have multiple playmakers on our team. I think there’s some passion with this group. I don’t think that’s something that was learned on the trip, it was more confirmed.”
(Would you be hesitant to schedule something like that again?) “Yes. I don’t think we’d do that again. It just so happened we did this – because Gonzaga did it, Texas did it, pretty similar situation, but those are two more veteran teams. This was a very young team attempting to do that.”
(Advice for Stanford for the China game next season?) “Go to sleep at 2 in the morning three days before you leave, 3 in the morning two days, 4 in the morning the day before and you’ll be OK when you get there. It’s when you come back, you’ve got to come up with something else. The one trip and back is not as bad. But I don’t know if there’s another tournament where they have to go 8 hours, fly 10 hours, whatever it was. That may be the difference.”
(Rather not play Texas twice like that?) “That just kind of worked out that way. That wouldn’t have been our ideal choice but that’s not the end of the world to me. The flip side to all that is, our young men were able to go through an unbelievable experience. Going to China, we took the class to learn a little bit about the culture, go out there – I’ll tell you, I think our guys had a blast. I think they really enjoyed doing it. I think if our guys had a chance to do it again, they would do it. And then coming back and to be able to play in a competitive field like the Bahamas trip gave us, I thought that was great. I thought all of the things that we did were great. I think our guys thoroughly enjoyed them. It’s just that’s not something during a season, that close together, that is the ideal, in terms of the playing field. Off the court, I thought it was tremendous for our guys.”
(On all of the fouls called) “We continue to point those things out. I actually thought by the third game in the Bahamas, that our guys began to adjust a little bit. Andrew Andrews made probably three or four defensive plays where he pressured the ball as well as you can pressure it without touching the guy. It was pretty impressive the way he did it. Our guys were defending the post, you could see they were showing their hands to the official that ‘I’m not touching him’ but yet they were moving in the proper position. So I thought we began to adjust on the floor, but in practice this week, we’ve just been pointing those out, some of those fouls. We’re trying to eliminate the fouls that have nothing to do with the freedom of movement – the ones where we’re slapping down, we think we have a steal and we slap down. A guy gets a rebound, and because we missed a layup and we’re upset, we crash the guy. Those type of things are fouls we’re trying to eliminate.”
(On post players not being allowed to be as physical) “I don’t think that’s been the problem for us as much. Again, the fouls where we’re trying to get around in front of the post and the ball has passed, and we reach for it and slap the guy or hit the guy, those are the ones we have to stay away from. That’s us in terms of our technique getting better, getting around the post quicker. So inside that way, I don’t know if that’s what’s getting us in foul trouble. It’s more us being late getting there and reaching, that type of thing. I always thought when the new rule was put in – the emphasis I should say – was that freedom of movement meant out on the floor guarding the dribble. And we were prepared, look, you’ve got to keep your hands off, any little contact, they’re going to call it. Two hands is an automatic foul. Multiple touches is an automatic foul. We worked on that. But when someone’s running through the lane and you’re running with them like this, and they make contact, and the guy flops, and they call a foul – that one, I don’t think that’s right.”
(Do you see college basketball becoming a better product because of these emphases?) “I don’t know, but what I could see happening if we stick to this, is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is going to pack it in. And to me, that makes for a slower game, if everybody just gets back, we don’t want to be out on the floor, we don’t want to get an unnecessary foul call. College basketball (becomes) you pack it in defensively if you want to keep your players on the floor, if you don’t want to put people in the bonus at the 12-minute mark, everybody’s got to pack it in. I just don’t know what that’s going to look like if that happens.”
(Would you consider playing zone, then?) “We would definitely consider zone. I think we do have to learn to defend, like I said, by the third game we were starting to adjust a little bit. And if those fouls are going to be called – again, we’ve got to stay away from the silly fouls.”
(On the emphases affecting the way they play the passing lanes) “They definitely affect us, because if you’re going to play that aggressively, like we try to play, then we’re going to get our share of fouls called against us. Before this rule came in, we would get a lot of fouls called on us. So this isn’t the first time. But you kind of knew those were fouls. Now you’re thinking, well, the guy must have pushed off – oh, that’s on us?! Really? You don’t know what to tell your guys. Sometimes I don’t know what to tell them, how to play, because they were like this the whole time. But if I’m moving here and you make contact with me a little bit, and you’re bumped off, that seems to be a foul right now. Some of that, to me, needs to be the eye test, but maybe they’re trying to take the judgment out. I was reading something that Tom Izzo was quoted as saying about the fouls, and it just makes the game different. The officials, and this is what Tom Izzo said, he doesn’t fault the officials. They get dinged, they don’t get graded as high if they don’t call these, so they have to call them. They have no choice.”
(On moving screens being called more frequently) “We have to do a better job, by and large. I thought there were a few that were questionable, but we have to do a better job setting screens, so that we’re stationary. When contact is made – you can move wherever you want to move, but once there’s contact made, you have to become a statue. You can’t move at that point.”
(On Andrew Andrews shooting 65 free throws in 6 games) “That’s the flip side of this – if that’s how it’s called, I’m talking about it, maybe I’m whining about it, whatever you want to say … if I’m whining, well then, we have to use it to our advantage to. If that’s how it’s going to be called, it’s going to be called both ways, well, we have to attack. A couple years ago, teams just started telling their guys, ‘game’s on the line, put your head down and just go.’ There’s going to be a foul. Just go. They can’t stop you unless they’re right in front of you. If they’re not, it’s going to be a foul. And Andrew has been phenomenal at doing that. And Andrew was already good at drawing fouls. But now with the ball in his hands a lot more, he’s tough to keep off that foul line.”
(He seems to get calls with that shoulder move…) “I don’t know the answer, because it just seems like if I have the ball and I’m moving, and you’re moving, and there’s any contact, for whatever reason, it’s a foul on the defender. It just seems that way. So I don’t know. It’s tough. We have to figure out how to coach our guys how to best defend that.”
(On a group rebounding effort and the guards having good numbers) “Yes, we are all-hands on deck. It was asked of me earlier about our rebounding, and I said, our guards – our best rebounding teams, with the exception of when Jon Brockman was here, our guards made us a good rebounding team. And that’s the case now with Dejounte and Andrew. Those guys are very good rebounders. But again, if you look, Andrew has always been a good rebounder. If you go back and look in the years past, he’s been a good rebounder.”
(Is this the best stretch Andrews has had?) “We’d have to go back and look at the statistics, but in league play, Andrew was scoring in double figures – I forget the numbers, but he was averaging 18, 19 points a game. This isn’t totally new for Andrew, if you look at our season last year. He scores 35 in a game. I think he had 30 in a game. He hit a couple game-winners for us. He can score the ball. Some of it has to do with he gets to the foul line a lot, but I think he’s also improved his shooting quite a bit. So he’s knocking down those 3-pointers now. He’s a very aggressive basketball player.”
(Is there something about senior guards having big years in your system?) “For whatever reason, I think seniors, period – you look back at Matthew Bryan-Amaning, he wasn’t a guard, (but) he was All-Pac-10 as a senior. Quincy Pondexter played all over the place, but his senior year, I thought he should have been player of the year in the conference. I just think for whatever reason, guys come out as seniors and are very, very productive. (Andrews) is not the exception, because right now, he’s having as good of a year as anyone to begin the season.”
(On Cal State-Fullerton) “Their guards are very good. Their guards can score the ball. Those guards are very quick, along with being able to shoot the basketball. They’re a handful to defend.”
(You had a close game against them in 2012) “Yeah, but I believe it’s a different coaching staff now. Coach Dedrique (Taylor) wasn’t there then. You can see Coach has those guys believing. Those guys are playing with a lot of confidence. I think Coach Dedrique has instilled that in that group. You can just see it when you watch them play.”