Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters earlier today to preview UW’s 3 p.m. Saturday game against Montana at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Much of the conversation, predictably, focused on ex-Husky Martin Breunig, who is now Montana’s leading scorer and a Big Sky Player of the Year candidate.
(On the film from the TCU game) “Everything that we thought we saw, we saw. It was great to see our guys locked in, focused, the way that they were.”
(Surprised by what Martin Breunig has done at Montana?) “If you would have told me he would be averaging 20 points a game and nine rebounds and shooting close to 70 percent, I would say, ‘I don’t know.’ I do know he had tremendous ability when he came in. He was very athletic. There were times when he would do things in practice where, like, jaw-dropping. People talk about the athleticism with our team now – well, he would fit right in with the athleticism, because he’s a tremendous athlete. We’ve had a number of people transfer over the years. I don’t know if I could be more proud of someone and how well they’re doing right now. Martin was – I’m sure still is – a hard worker, but an outstanding human being. He is a guy that he’d get down on himself sometimes, but aside from that, he’d brighten up my day when I’d see him. He just had a fantastic attitude and was just fun to be around. So except for tomorrow, I’ll be totally pulling for him, and have been pulling for him. He’s in a great spot with great coaches and great people around him, and he is flourishing. So I continue to wish him the best.”
(Were you disappointed to see him transfer, or was it better for both sides that he move on?) “I was more disappointed that we couldn’t get him over the hump mentally so that he would give himself a chance. But right now, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. I still remember talking to him about, ‘Martin, you catch that ball down there, you’re so athletic, catch it, don’t mess around, just jump over people. They’re not going to get to your shot.’ That’s what he’s doing now. That’s exactly what he’s doing now. He’s really cleaned up his game. They’ve really helped him in that regard. The person that he is and the hard worker that he is, it would have been great if he had stayed, but he wouldn’t have played this year. Last year would have been his last year.”
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(Is he a different player than what you hoped he would be at UW?) “He is a completely different player. We had him more like a versatile 4-man, like what Marquese Chriss is doing right now, where he’s all over the floor. Similar guys we had like Justin Holiday, Quincy Pondexter that are versatile. (At Montana), he’s pretty much around the basket. Very effective. What I mean, he scores pretty much around the basket. He steps out on the floor and he drives to the rim doing all those things, but he’s pretty much around the basket and developed into being pretty good that way. He’s got such a soft touch around the basket. He goes up, he jumps over people and the ball, he just lets it go and it’s so soft, the way it lands around the rim. We always knew he could run. He was one of the fastest, if not the fastest guy on the team, when he was here. He can really run, and they give him the ball when he runs ahead of the defense.”
(On ex-UW assistant Ken Bone’s affect on Montana) “He’s an offensive genius. He really, really knows offense well. When he was the head coach at Washington State, I’d tell him afterward, I’d say, man, a couple things you guys ran, that’s pretty good. I remember with Brock Motum, the things that he would do with him, the positions he’d put him in to score were pretty good, pretty tough to deal with. So you see some of it. But Travis DeCuire now is a very good basketball coach. But I’m sure he hired Coach Bone for a reason, sot hey could work together, put their heads together and do well, and they have.”
(They don’t shoot 3s very well, does that stand out?) “What stands out to me with their team is that they execute very well. That’s what stands out. And Martin is a big, big part of what they’re doing offensively. Those are the things that stand out to me.”
(Why were they able to play Gonzaga so close the other night?) “Well, without (Przemek) Karnowski being in there, they were able to concentrate a little more on the two guys, and they changed how they guarded the post. They gave them different looks in the post, and they really slowed the game down. The game was very – you look at the score, very low-scoring game, there weren’t a lot of possessions in the game.”
(So you think they’ll slow it down?) “That would be our guess, that they’re going to try to be very deliberate and making sure they’re taking good care of the basketball, and not allowing us an opportunity to really get out and run. That would be my guess.”
(What do you have to do to be successful against them?) “Got to be able to – they change defenses, you’ve got to be able to not be stifled because, ‘what are they in?’ That’s going to be important, and you can’t let Martin go off. When I say go off, you can’t let him go out there and get 25, 30 points, because that makes it harder for them. Offensive identity, Martin gives them that, because when he goes out and gets 20 – (Gonzaga) didn’t have Karnowski, but still, Kyle Wiltjer and Sabonis are really good, and Martin scores 20 points. Now, the majority of those points came in the second half. He got them in a variety of ways. He’s going to find a way to score. We just have to work our tails off not to let him just go off.”
(Do you change your schedule for finals week?) “We have to every year. We have to change schedule. You have to practice at odd times. We try not to ever schedule a game mid-week during finals week, because it’s a disaster. They don’t know their minds are fried, but their minds are fried when they come out. Because they’re studying for finals and they’re turning in papers last minute, all of that stuff. So we try to spread it out so that finals are usually over by Thursday, so their minds are a bit more free. So we have to work around their schedule.”
(Is that especially emphasized for the freshmen?) “No more of a point of emphasis (than) for everyone. No one escapes that one. Not here in college.”
(If you’d been told that so many players would transfer from that 2011 recruiting class, what would you say?) “I’d say that makes sense. The reason I’d say that is because we signed seven in 2005, and only three of them stayed the whole time. … Artem (Wallace) stayed the whole time, Justin (Dentmon), (Jon) Brockman, they stayed the whole time. 2007, we signed a four-person class, and one was here the whole time. So let’s hope that doesn’t happen with this last class we signed. But college basketball today, that’s part of what happens, so it happened to us two other times before.”