Huskies men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters for about 20 minutes this afternoon to preview his team’s Pac-12 opener against UCLA tomorrow at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
And there is a bit of news to pass along -- Sam Timmins, the center from New Zealand who signed with UW earlier this year, passed his physical on Thursday morning and will begin practicing with the team. Timmins will travel with the team, and he’ll suit up and warm up and sit on the bench, but he will not play this season. He will be a redshirt freshman in 2016-17.
Anyway, here’s everything else Romar said on Thursday, including some insight into Mark Jackson’s well-publicized comments last week about Steph Curry.
(How did team respond to UC-Santa Barbara loss?) “I think pretty good. Our team has watched film, we’ve gone out there and walked through some things on the floor. We talked about some of our errors. I think we’ve been able to see them. I think guys are addressing them in practice. But it has to become second nature. It has to get to where we’re not thinking and just doing it.”
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(On the awe factor of freshmen preparing for UCLA) “Everyone looks at that differently. Some feel like I can never ever say one positive thing about the opposition because that’s a sign of weakness. We talk about, respect everyone you play, but fear no team. And for me personally, I don’t have a problem acknowledging an opponent, acknowledging their strengths, applauding them and complimenting them for what they do well. But when you get out on that floor, you know you do some things well, too. It’s a battle.”
(On what stands out about UCLA) “The No. 1 thing for me is, as you look across college basketball, there is usually one player on that floor that is kind of a non-factor offensively – in fact, you can leave them open and he’s not going to hurt you. Sometimes there’s two guys out there. UCLA doesn’t have one. Every guy on that floor can hurt you on offense, and if you slip up at all, they can expose you defensively. If you make one mistake, they’re going to capitalize on it because they’re able to do it. Even in preseason, we played a couple of teams where we would make mistakes, but they couldn’t make us pay for it. UCLA will make you pay dearly. And that is probably the most impressive thing to me about how they can score and how the coaching staff has put those guys in place to play with each other. They’re not going out averaging 90 points a game, scoring 100 points a game and all that. They just seem to be very efficient with a lot of weapons when they’re coming and they’re focused.”
(What went wrong for them in their losses?) “I don’t know. I couldn’t say that. I don’t know the inner-workings of their team. It’s hard for me to say what that is. I know it seems like when they come focused, they’re a much better team.”
(On the challenges of defending Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton) “They’re triple-level scorers, we call that – they can shoot the three, they can drive to the rim, they can shoot the midrange shots. They’re both more than capable passers, so if you pay too much attention to them, they can hit the open man. Guy like (Thomas) Welsh makes a living off of playing off of those guards. You throw (Aaron) Holiday into there too. He’s shooting 40 percent from three. Great quickness and those guys play off of him. you have to guard Parker. You have to work. You can’t just let him post you up or he’ll score a lot of points on you. So Alford and Hamilton are kind of the catalysts to set all that up and they make sure that your defense is occupied, because of how aggressive they are and how effective and efficient they are, and that’s why I’m talking about the five guys on the floor that can make plays. They’re a challenge to guard.”
(Are those guards pick-pockets too?) “Holiday is. He’s been running around this gym since he was 10 years old, literally. When his brother played here, they’d come in town and he’s out there running around. I watched him play in high school and he’s very quick and anticipates very well. If you know anyone in the Holiday family, they all know how to get steals on the basketball floor.”
(On impressing upon a young team what conference play will be like) “We can say it. Until you experience it, you don’t understand. We have to do the best job we can do, which is to make sure we’re sound and worry about where we are. What’s our standard, and try to play to that standard, and hopefully that standard is able to deal with these firsts that we’ve been dealing with.”
(Are you expecting that it might take them a while to get up to speed?) “Not necessarily. However, maybe you have heard me say this before – sometimes freshmen come in and there’s not much footage on them. The scout is limited. And they look like they’re ready for the NBA after three games. Then there’s more footage, there’s more data, and teams are able to put bigger scouts and more efficient scouts against you. I remember Quincy Pondexter, when Quincy came in, I’ll never forget, he had 20 points in a half or 25 against Arizona here, and he was terrific. And then as we began to play, they began to scout him and take some things away from him, and then he became frustrated. But then later he adjusted to the scout and was able to play through the scout. That’s what you’ve heard me say before. We have seven freshmen. So our team has been scouted more, and now our group is learning to play through that, and when that kicks in, hopefully it kicks in tomorrow, but teams have been able to try to take more things away from us now since they have more information, since we’ve played a number of games.”
(Do you think there will be an easier path to the NCAA tournament for Pac-12 teams this season because of all the quality nonconference wins?) “If we were not invited to the NCAA tournament in 2012 after winning the league and winning 14 of 18 games in the league because of the RPI and lack of quality wins I would think it’s the complete opposite now, that there are many quality wins and high RPIs – good RPIs. And so there’s no question in my mind that there will be a number of teams from our league in the tournament. I think I was the one that told our team before, don’t expect them to pick us, in 2012, because we don’t have as many quality wins, our league doesn’t. Well, the same logic that I used when I knew how it works where I said we wouldn’t make it … I think there will be a number of teams from our conference to make it.”
(Pleased/happy/etc about how nonconference went for the league?) “Well definitely pleased, you fight like cats and dogs during the conference, but in the nonconference, everyone’s pulling for everyone. We want everyone to go undefeated in the nonconference for that very reason. It helps your chances in March. So I’ve been pleased with how things have gone, and I’ve been happy with how things have gone.”
(On freshmen getting used to losing more games than they did in high school) “It’s different for them because some of them were on such dominant teams. That just didn’t happen every often for them. Again, it also serves as a learning experience, that we cannot coast on any given possession and still come out on top. It’s not a guarantee. So nonconference games hopefully teach you a lot of lessons, and I think we’ve learned a lot of lessons in our nonconference season.”
(Malik Dime start or get more minutes against UCLA?) “Malik has been playing great. His minutes have already been extended as of late. Remember, if he’s not in foul trouble or doesn’t need a sub to rest, he’s been in there lately if he’s not in foul trouble, so he’s in there. whether he starts or not, his minutes are the same.”
(On staying out of foul trouble against a big post player like Tony Parker) “We need to make sure we’re able to stay in the game. We can’t pick up the dumb fouls, we can’t pick up the negligent fouls, the reacharounds, the out of position so I put one finger on the guy and they call a foul. Maybe they’re legitimate fouls, but we’ve got to keep our hands off, move our feet, we can’t afford to get in foul trouble.”
(Has the officiating changed since early in the season) “I think so. I think the games are being officiated slightly different than they were early, when we were in china, I know that for sure, when we played our first game. I think there have been some slight adjustments.”
(On Marquese Chriss working on staying out of foul trouble) “Marquese has been working on – you see Marquese will show his hands quite a bit. He’s not fouling at the rate that he was early. He’s doing a much better job that way. As Marquese grows and matures, hopefully this is not something that’s going to haunt him the rest of his career, but I remember Baron Davis was in college and he struggled with that so much because he felt he could steal every pass the entire game, and he would get in foul trouble quite a bit. We know Baron Davis was an All-Star type player – he never was able to get over that hump in college, but hopefully Marquese will be able to.”
(On young guys avoiding negativity on social media) “I think that’s why you practice and you point out positives with your team and it’s something you go through. I know veterans that say, ‘I don’t read that stuff, it’s too negative.’ Then they can’t help it and they start peeking at it again: ‘See! That’s why I don’t read this, man!’ It’s something you go through. They’ve got to learn to do it and deal with it. It comes with the territory.”
(On becoming stricter as young players learn more) “Once you know something, now you’re totally going to be held accountable for it. Not that guys weren’t being held accountable before, but you don’t know what you don’t know. And there are certain things we’ve been working on that are totally new to these kids, and they’ve just not done them before. So you do it a couple times and they don’t get it yet, you’ve got to say, OK, let’s do it again, let’s do it again, it’s about repetition. Let’s do it again. Nope, let’s go watch film then. Let me show you why you weren’t in the right spot. Then there comes a point where, OK, I know you know it. Now it’s unacceptable for you to make this same mistake. And I think that’s where we are right now with a lot of our guys. There are certain things that, we know it. But it’s a matter of you deciding that no matter what, I’m going to make sure we do this the right way.”
(On watching Markelle Fultz this week at the Les Schwab Invitational) “After watching him, I think he’ll make our team. I’m pretty convinced he’ll make our team. It was a joy to watch. He was in such command out there on the basketball floor, and you could just see – they put a different player on him because he was going by the other guy, so they put a quicker guy on him, so he went down to the block. And he scored four or six points just like that, so then they had to put a different player on him. but yet, one of the most impressive things to me is, he’s one of the top 10 players in the country based on the rankings, he’s got a good chance to play in these all-star games and all that stuff, he plays on one of the five best teams in America, and he comes out and he’s getting all his teammates involved. He wasn’t forcing anything. He wasn’t playing to impress any of you. He was playing to win the game. There were times when he just had to take over, and he did that, but that may be the most impressive thing to me that he did, was just get his teammates involved and just kind of control how things are going.”
(Has he exceeded even the expectations you had for him?) “I’d say close to that. But I wish you could have heard some of the early conversations when we talked about what we projected him to be. I wish you could have heard those. If I just told you, you’d say ah, you’re just making that up. But we thought he was going to be pretty special. when we first saw him paly, things were so easy for him, the way he was playing. We just thought, wow. With maturation and him working, just normal work in the gym, he’s going to be pretty special. But what most did not realize about him is he can play the point guard. You watch him play and he looks like he’s been playing the point guard for a long, long time. Well, he wasn’t playing the point guard. He was a scoring guard. But you can just see, because he was so unselfish on the floor, that he can end up being a point guard, and that’s what he’s done.”
(Is he like Brandon Roy? Isaiah Thomas?) “He’s probably more like Brandon than he is Isaiah. I remember speaking with y’all, those that were here, in the beginning of Brandon’s senior year, after about five or six games, after I predicted he could be an All-American – ‘where is this All-American thing you’re talking about? He’s scoring 18 and he doesn’t even look to shoot as much.’ Because they’re doubling him. Because that’s not the right shot. He’s not just going to shoot just so he can be an All-American. His teammates are open so he’s going to make the right play every time. And sure enough, when we started conference, he gets 35, both games, because it was there. Well, in that sense, Markelle is more like Brandon. He’s going to make the right play. He’s going to hit the open man. He’s not going to look to just force it so he can get his numbers so he can pad his stats. He wants to win the game. And that’s one of the reasons he is so much fun to play with and he’ll be a good teammate.”
(You called Brandon ‘The Provider’ -- does Fultz have some of those abilities?) “And we called Brandon the chameleon, too, for the very reason what I told you about Markelle – he’s out here, and he’s playing a certain way. You put a different defender on him, now he changes colors and now he’s doing something else over here. He looks totally different than that player who was out there. Then he moves over here and he looks totally different than he did in those other places. That’s a special talent, a special gift. That’s what Brandon used to do.”
(On Mark Jackson’s comments about Steph Curry ruining basketball because young kids try to shoot like him) “There have been some guys that ruined guys’ careers over the years. Magic Johnson was one of them. I really believe Magic Johnson messed up some 6-9 guys that couldn’t dribble, messed up their careers. Because now, he’s going to be a point guard. 6-9 guy has to look at the ball every time he dribbles, but he’s going to be a point guard, because Magic’s 6-9. I think he did it, I think Dirk Nowitzki, I think he messed up some guys’ careers. I think Kevin Durant really messed up some guys’ careers, because they’re 6-10, 6-11 – ‘big fella! You look really good, what position do you play?’ ‘I’m a 2, dog.’ ‘A 2? Really? OK.’ If Mark Jackson said that – I didn’t hear him say it –I would say that’s consistent with those other guys I named. So now, everybody’s (like) ‘I’m going to be like Steph Curry. Even though my jumper is beyond repair, I’m still going to shoot them.’ Tough deal. I think when they say that, that shows you’re really great, like if you’re on the Muppets. If you get to be on the Muppets, you’re really great. That’s how I see it. Sesame Street, too. Kevin Garnett messed some guys up, too. A new guy is Draymond Green. Now every 6-6 guy wants to be Draymond Green.”