Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar met with reporters for a few minutes after Washington’s Friday practice earlier today at the Coors Events Center. UW faces Colorado here at 11 a.m. PT tomorrow. Here’s what Romar said about that matchup, and about UW’s defensive issues during Wednesday’s 90-82 loss to Utah.
(How’d the team bounce back at practice?) “Not only today, but yesterday, I thought we got off the plane and went straight to practice and lifted, and our guys had energy and great focus.”
(On Colorado forward Josh Scott missing Thursday’s game against WSU) “I think when Scott’s on the floor, he frees all those guys up to become better offensive players, because you concentrate so much on him. Those guys are the beneficiary of the gameplan, usually, to stop Josh Scott. And when he’s not on the floor, you can guard those guys a little close, pay a little more attention to them. So it makes a big difference. And the other thing is, one of the most underrated aspects of his game is how good of a defensive player he is. We know he’s a good rebounder, but he’s a very, very good defensive player, and he anchors their defense. So with him not on the floor, it makes a big difference.”
(How was Colorado without Scott in there?) “Well, they were fine, but any time you have your full complement of players, it makes the other ones a little better, I think. When we play against Colorado, we know those guys have a high motor and are very aggressive, and we have to do a good job on those guys as well, not just Josh Scott.”
Never miss a local story.
(Did you want that game to go a couple more overtime periods?) “(Laughs.) That was an interesting game. Even in that game, though – it was a long game, but Scott didn’t play. Scott plays against us, he’s going to be fresh. Tre’Shaun Fletcher played six minutes. He’s going to be fresh. Collier fouled out. So I think they’ll be fine.”
(Same way you figured Allonzo Trier would play for Arizona -- you preparing for Scott to play?) “Absolutely. We’re counting on him being – ‘counting on him’ is not the best (phrase). We’re figuring he will be in the starting lineup.”
(Tough turnaround for Colorado from Thursday overtime game to a noon tipoff Saturday?) “They’re at home. They’re playing at home. So maybe if it were a road game and they had to travel all day today, or part of the day today, to play a noon game … they’re playing at home. And this is no different than playing in the Pac-12 tournament. You’ve got to be ready to do that.”
(Does being here for a couple days help you cope with the altitude?) “They say it takes about two weeks to get completely adjusted, and we can’t do that. We’ll all flunk out of school. But we’ve been here a few days and I do think it helps a little bit to do that. The schedule doesn’t always work out in your favor for you to be able to do that, but this time we were able to spend a couple more days, so I think it’s good.”
(After seeing the film, what were the issues defensively at Utah?) “We did not communicate at all. If we’re playing zone, if we’re playing the pack defense, packing it in, we’re playing a box and one, whatever we’re playing – if we don’t communicate, it’s not going to be very effective. And we, for whatever reason, did a poor job of communicating after the first nine minutes. The first nine minutes of the game, I thought we did a pretty good job of guarding them, but then after that, we were just so quiet. One guy decides he’s going to switch and the other guy decides not to, and you’re not communicating. If you communicate, there are no mistakes. But we did not communicate, and that allowed them to get some easy, easy baskets. And just too much dribble penetration when it shouldn’t have been.”
(On what he would attribute that to -- being on the road?) “Not sure. Not totally sure. Here’s what I know – second half against Arizona State, we were stellar defensively. Arizona game, I thought with the exception of them getting too much on the offensive glass, I thought guarding their stuff, we did a great, great job. So we can do it. We’re capable. There are other games where we’ve been capable. But all of a sudden, out of nowhere, after nine minutes, there it is: ‘Wait, wait, we didn’t talk that time.’ Next time, ‘wait, we didn’t talk again!’ And it became a theme in the second half. I will say this, though – we’ve done that twice this year, and both were in the second half on the road. Against Arizona, same thing, and then against Utah.”
(On being able to sort through that during the game) “That’s the whole beauty of sports and coaching, in that if you could snap your fingers and it would all go well, then you go undefeated. But that’s part of the process. This team improved quicker than we thought they would improve. This team has done more than a lot of people thought it would do. However, the team’s youth does show up sometimes, and every now and then – maybe that was the case the other night – it shows up. We’ve played over 20 games. Guys are closer to being sophomores than they are freshmen right now. But it still happens every now and then.”
(On what worked so well against Colorado the first time) “Well, you look, we talk about this defensive thing, and the first four minutes, they got three layups, just drive layups. We weren’t ready. We made some substitutions and then we started playing with energy. And what happened in that game was, we were so locked in defensively. There was communicating. We were moving on a string. We were executing defensively. We were able to get up by 22 in that game, by 22 against that team, and that’s not easy to do, and all of their guys were playing. But we were so locked in and dialed in, and that made a big difference. That wasn’t the case the other day in the second half against Utah.”
(On blocking 15 shots against Colorado the first time) “Well, we lead the nation in blocked shots, but we’re not averaging 15 blocked shots, so that was a special day. But also, maybe the blocked shots and the steals were a byproduct of us being dialed in. And everybody on the same page understanding what we’re supposed to do and communicating. I think it’s more of a lesson of what we’re capable of when we are locked in that way. We’re locked in a lot. We do a good job, a lot of the times, but when we make mistakes, it shows up and burns us big time.”
(On this bring the stretch run and there being less margin for error) “We talked to our team about after this game, there’s still three weeks left in the regular season. There’s still a month. With this group, I believe we still can get better. I don’t think this group will stop improving until we play our last game. We’re not an old veteran team that’s reached our ceiling, I don’t believe. I still think we have a chance to get a little better.”