Here is what Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar told reporters after UW’s 83-78 loss to UC-Santa Barbara. The general theme: the Huskies lacked energy, didn’t defend properly and might have looked past the Gauchos toward Friday’s Pac-12 opener against UCLA.
(Opening) “There’s no better teacher than experience, and what we’ve been able to experience the last few weeks here are teams that our guys didn’t necessarily follow in high school, but who are good teams in their own right, and that’s Oakland and Santa Barbara and I think our guys learned some valuable lessons. At this level, you fear no one, but you respect everyone, and Santa Barbara just came in here and took the game from us, which is what we told our team that they are capable of doing. They did an outstanding job sticking with what they wanted to do, and I thought when our shots didn’t fall early, we kind of relaxed on the defensive end, and weren’t able to totally recover. When we play with energy and we’re locked in, we’re much better. But overall, we weren’t able to get over the hump, because I don’t think we were as disciplined as we needed to be on the defensive end.”
(Any sense that the team was looking past this game to UCLA?) “We talked to our guys afterwards and guys kind of said a little bit of that. Sometimes, like I said, the best teacher is experience . Sometimes we can say this, say that, warn guys, bring up past examples of what happened, but (they think) yeah, that was then, that was another time, that’s not going to happen to us type of situation. And it did happen to us. So unfortunately, like we always say, it’s not a video game, we can’t start it over. It is a loss leading into conference, but I think our guys learned a valuable lesson, not just about what opponent we play but how important it is in the first five minutes of a game, every possession, the three minutes before halftime, how important that is. Just every possession is monumental. I think our guys understand that a lot more right now.”
(The team seemed kind of flat in warmups) “I told Coach Chillious before the game, I said man, is it the dogs that can sense an earthquake is coming and no one else can? I said, that’s how I feel about this game. I said we better play. We better be ready to play.”
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(Any common thread between this and the Oakland game?) “I don’t think so. The ball went down for us. We played against a good team that was well-coached, but against one of the top players in the country that just made plays by himself in that game, and his team played off of him. This game was different. We couldn’t make shots early. Their methodical approach on offense I think made our guys grow impatient. We began to gamble, like come on, let’s get on with the show, let’s go, I’m going to make it happen. and we got out of position. Give them credit for being able to … they turned the ball over 17 times, they still turned it over, but yet for the most part they got us to jump offside, so to speak.”
(What didn’t work against their zone defense?) “When the ball doesn’t go in, it always looks like it doesn’t work. I thought we settled for … we called timeout after the first few minutes, we said, ‘right away, we just took 3s like it was nothing, like we’re shooting 80 percent from 3. We’re not working the ball as much.’ We began to work the ball, we began to penetrate, Dejounte started to penetrate, and we got into the teeth of the defense and we went inside and we were doing a good job, but then we’d go back to shooting the 3 a little too much.”
(On giving up backdoor baskets) “The first half, I think we gave up two, and they turned it over 11 times, 10 or 11 times, so we’ll take the tradeoff. Second half, we became negligent. It’s one thing to get backdoored and you have help there, but we were getting backdoored when we were negligent, and we weren’t seeing the ball away from it on the weakside, and they were coming back dribbling at us, we’d go to deny, and they were backdooring us. And we didn’t do as good of a job in the second half as we did in the first half of defending it. There were breakdowns. It’s one thing if they’re getting backdoors, because they practice too, and they’re going to get a couple. That’s the tradeoff. But I thought tonight, again, our impatience on the defensive end bit us in the butt.”
(You said a couple weeks ago that you were glad you still had some time to improve before Pac-12 play started. You’ve lost two of your last three games. How concerning is that going into league play?) “Been looking at this for a long time, haven’t talked about it as much, but we’re not playing the worst team in the Pac-12, that’s for sure. UCLA is awfully good, and they can really score the ball. If we play defense the way we played it tonight, then it’s going to be a rough night for us. But I do think there will be a renewed commitment to playing the way we’re supposed to play now that conference is starting. This is not anything that we have to motivate or remind or cite past examples or give a rah-rah speech – they know. They know. So we’ll be ready to go and start our conference.”
(Do you still think the team has improved throughout the nonconference schedule?) “I think we’ve improved, but so have other teams, but I think we have. I thought early, the way we were playing, it wasn’t like we started out 7-0. We lost a couple in Atlantis, but I think as teams began to scout, begin to play against you, not allow you to do some things that were successful early, it gets a little more difficult. Well, we have to continue to grow as our competition grows, and when I say that, I don’t necessarily mean caliber of teams, but the way they’re going to attack us and approach us.”
(On having to rally the team and avoid getting too down) “I don’t think we’re at that point yet. I think right now, we’re at a point where we’ve had a wakeup call. That’s where I think we’re at, that ‘this isn’t as easy as I thought,’ and we need to dial in even a little more. I think that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”