Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters for about 20 minutes earlier this afternoon to preview the Huskies’ 8 p.m. Wednesday game against Arizona State at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The biggest news item is that freshman forward Noah Dickerson, who was limited during Saturday’s loss at USC by an injury to his left foot, did not practice on Monday. Romar said he hoped Dickerson would feel better on Tuesday -- the coach met with reporters before practice -- but that he wasn’t totally sure of his availability for Wednesday.
“I’m sure he would try to go,” Romar said. “We just have to find out how effective he would be.”
Dickerson has started every game this season and averages 8.6 points and 5.8 rebounds. He sustained the injury last week in UW’s win over UCLA and tried to play through it, then managed only 16 minutes against USC. Asked what UW’s plan might be if Dickerson is limited again, Romar replied: “Unfortunately, we’ve had some practice at that with foul trouble and all. Devenir Duruisseau is certainly capable of filling in. We can go small. And of course Marquese (Chriss) and Malik (Dime) can play longer minutes.”
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Here’s the rest of what Romar said today.
(ASU different now than first time you played?) “It seems that the ball is being spread around a little more amongst them. That’s what I would say.”
(On taking Chriss out of the game after one foul) “Preventative. If he picks his first foul up, then he’s out for five minutes or so, whatever it is. When he goes back in, that’s just deeper into the game that he hasn’t picked up his second. That’s all it is. So he comes back and we’re kind of biding time a little bit.”
(Have you ever done that with any other player?) “No. It’s better to have Marquese for the second half and the end of the game than it might be a little earlier if he were to pick up this fouls.”
(What do you tell your team about some of the defensive slippage in the second half) “We’re showing it to them. It’s nothing earth-shattering. There’s no magical insight. We’ve got to keep people in front of us. We’ve got to box out on the boards. It’s pretty simple in terms of recognizing it. We just have to do it. We’ve been working on it in practice, keeping people in front of us, being determined not to give up blow-bys, those type of things. The missed box-outs, the offensive rebounds that teams get, and the penetrations that teams are getting I think contributes to the fouls. Because we’re trying to protect the basket.”
(Was the first ASU game the most complete game you’ve played in Pac-12 play?) “I thought we played hard, but we have a goals board, and each individual goal that you meet as a team, you get a gold ball up there, and we didn’t have any gold balls for that game. Field-goal percentage, 3-point field-goal percentage, number of points allowed, offensive rebounds allowed, charges taken, so on and so forth – I thought we were good in the first half, defensively, but the second half, just OK. I didn’t think we were stellar. I thought we came out and played with energy. I thought we played hard. And then Andrew set the tone offensively in that Arizona State game. He was aggressive offensively, he was finding guys with the basketball. So we were much more efficient offensively.”
(On where they need to improve) “Defensively, we’re not where we should be. That’s the biggest, glaring weakness right now, in my opinion. The team, in terms of progress, we were hoping that about now we would be getting it. But we’ve been able to squeak by, get by with some victories in the process, which has been very good.”
(On a young team being able to win so many close games) “There’s another factor that comes into play – you’re on the road and the team is decent. So not every time when you go up 15-0 or 12-0 in the beginning is that how the game’s going to turn out. You watch – unless it’s just a complete mismatch – a lot of times teams jump out to big leads and it evens itself out as the game goes on. And I would say that’s more the case. I thought we played good in the first half against Arizona State, but they were playing good, also.”
(On the unbalanced schedule and playing UCLA, USC, ASU and Arizona twice before seeing Cal, Stanford, Oregon or Oregon State once) “After two-thirds of the season, one way or another, we’ve watched those teams. Even though we have not studied those teams right now, prepared for them, we’ve watched them play. We have a general idea of how they play. Same with us. They’ve watched us and have a general idea of how we play.”
(On whether there is any advantage or disadvantage in that) “I think in any given year, the schedule could favor you, depending on who you play once, and who you play at their place or not. But it evens out because everyone has to go through it.”
(Has your defense regressed at all?) “I don’t know if there’s been as much regression as (much as) teams have gotten better at what they do. Teams grow. Teams get better as the season goes, and we haven’t progressed the way we should defensively.”
(How does Dominic Green being in the rotation change your team?) “It gives us another guy that can make a basket, but it also gives us another guy with length. Dominic is 6-6 but has a 6-11 wingspan, and he is a determined defender. Right now I wouldn’t consider him a defensive stopper, because he’s still learning, but he is determined to do things the right way. He comes out every day in practice, and you can see he’s really trying to learn. He’s really trying to focus and pick things up. That’s one of the reasons he was rewarded with playing time. You have a guy who comes out every day with that level of focus that is talented, he’s going to get his shot eventually.”
(Was there an area he really had to improve in before you could trust him to give you these kind of minutes?) “He improved in a number of areas. Earlier in the year – he’s such a good scorer with a scorer’s mindset that a lot of times, he would go and begin to hunt his shot, and maybe the ball would stop at times. Now, he is understanding a lot more of the team concept. And he wasn’t doing it because he was selfish. He’s just been successful doing it. And again, he’s a scorer. In his mind, he was going to show why he belonged on the floor. Well, while that was going on, he still wasn’t where he needed to be defensively. We are aware he was a scorer. We knew we recruited him to score. But once he began to take his time a little more offensively and began to defend and do some things that way, then he naturally got his opportunity.”
(Were you disappointed when he signed with ASU at first, and what was the process of recruiting him once he got out of his letter?) “We kind of got into the recruiting game late with Dominic. We looked at him in July and he was playing really well, but we hadn’t shown as much interest before that, so Arizona State was already further along in the recruiting process. He thought about it, but it was kind of too late. So then when he became available again, and we knew that we had an opportunity, we were ecstatic, because we feel he has great potential.”
(On Green playnig with more confidence) “He really is, and now he’s gaining his confidence. So when that clicks in, he can do nothing but get better. He’s understanding and being comfortable in playing the way that we’re playing now. I don’t feel he feels the stress that he has to come in the game and make his mark every time he touches the ball. He’s playing a lot more relaxed, but yet playing hard with intensity.”
(On whether the crowd atmosphere is improving this year) “There’s no doubt about it. The USC game, when we were down and we came back, it was really loud in here. But the people that came out – once you start seeing that Dawg Pack in those stands 45 minutes before the game, OK, something’s going on. Something’s stirring. And that was the case the last couple of games, and we see nothing but improvement in that. It’s my understanding that we’re near a sellout for Saturday, for sure, and that there are a lot of people that have already purchased tickets for the game tomorrow against Arizona State. So I believe the crowds now are coming, and I can just kind of sense it. I’ve been here long enough, year after year, if the crowds were there, or if they weren’t there, to kind of get that feel in the air that there’s a buzz and that they’re coming around. So we definitely welcome that.”
(On the crowds not being very good the past few seasons) “Well, that’s hard to say. I always try to put everything on us first. We produce, they’ll be there. That’s how I’ve always felt. We haven’t had as much success. We’ve been very mediocre. I’ve said that before, the last few years. All I know is, now that things are starting to look up for the team, they’re back, and that’s really a good thing.”
(On the impact of the student section) “I’ve said it before – from ’04 to ’06, we won 32 consecutive games in this building, and there are many, many highlights and stories in the midst of that streak that were fueled by the Dawg Pack. Coaches getting kicked out of games. Coaches antics, turning around and not watching the game, making gestures to the Dawg Pack. Classic lines that they chanted towards players. The LSU game, where Glen Davis, Big Baby came out there and decided before the game that he was going to chat with them and be their friend. That was an interesting evening. I could just go on and on about the havoc and the chaos that they’ve created in the games, and you see them, you come out and they’re there again – our guys, no doubt they feed off of it. During the streak, our guys fed off of it. I remember them telling recruits and anyone who would listen – ‘wait until you see the Dawg Pack.’ They’d tell the players that were freshmen – ‘wait until you play in front of the Dawg Pack, and when this place is packed. There’s nothing like it.’ I remember Sports Illustrated had the Dawg Pack as the eighth-best student section in the country, and teams that we play against, coaches, players, they would tell us repeatedly how tough it was to play in here, and they had everything to do with that.”
(Do your players know what those games were like?) “They have seen film. We’ve shown them footage of what it’s like. But they’ve not been able to experience it until here recently, they got to experience it a little bit. They continue to say these are the biggest crowds they’ve played in front of, because they just got out of high school. And, quite frankly, it’s the biggest crowds that Andrew has played in front of, because during the time that he’s been here, we’ve not had it going as well. But he’s getting to experience this for the first time, also, so he’s pretty pumped up about it.”
(On limiting foul trouble while still being aggressive) “We have to stay away from the touch fouls. Guy gets an offensive rebound and goes back, we touch him with our pinky and it’s a foul, it’s an and-one. We have to stay away from those. We’re tracking a guy down and we get off balance, he jumps into us, it’s a foul. Stay out of the way at that point. A guy’s 50 feet from the basket and we try to reach and steal it. We have to stay away from those. The nature of how we play, it’s an aggressive style defensively. Like I said, we’re going to foul. But stay away from the ones that we can control.”
(On continuing to remind the team about foul trouble) “I don’t think there’s a time we don’t have to talk about it. I think we have to continue to address it because there is a balance. There’s a balance of an aggressive go-go-go attack, and then show your hands, don’t attack. You have to constantly talk about that. I do think sometimes it affects our ability to defend, though, because to defend the way we want, we feel like, well, if I do that, if I am up, if I am guarding the ball, and he makes one drive, one quick move, I’m going to foul him, so if I really get up and deny, maybe I may foul, so we back off subconsciously a little bit, and we can’t do that.”
(On whether he’s surprised by the team’s play so far) “The encouragement – I wouldn’t say surprise – is that, like I said earlier, we were able to win some games while we were still learning. And we’re still learning, no doubt, but we’re much further along and we can see the improvement. Things are coming together. But like I always say, it would be a surprise right now if we didn’t have a win in conference. That would be the surprise. We recruited these guys expecting positive results. So when the positive results are there, it’s not a surprise to us. Malik Dime, so many people say, ‘wow, I had no idea,’ but we recruited him. We saw him play. So we had every idea that he had the ability to block shots the way he does, and that he was a warrior, and he was a winner. So across the board, the guys that we brought in, it’s no surprise. I always say it’s a surprise when they don’t play at the level we thought they were going to play at when we recruited them.”
(On Malik Dime’s personality helping his game) “He, for one, is a very hard worker, and he’s not an excuse-maker. That’s a big deal. anyone that makes excuses can’t improve. ‘Why? It wasn’t my fault.’ But if you’re a guy who says, ‘you know what, that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job.’ His approach, his attitude in that regard, helps him be the guy that he is. And he’s a tough guy. He’s a tough guy and a warrior and a great, great teammate. Our guys not only love playing with him, they love to see him have success. And he has some tentacles that reach a long way. That helps him also.”