University of Washington

Good reason for optimism at UW

The Washington Huskies had their ups and downs over the 26 wins and 10 losses of their just-completed men's basketball season.

But what pleased coach Lorenzo Romar most was that, by the end, the Huskies had meshed into a team.

Romar met the media for almost an hour Monday, talking about what the Huskies might expect next season and giving his assessment of the season that ended Thursday with a 69-56 loss to West Virginia in the NCAA tournament round of 16.

“Unfortunately, we played against a very good West Virginia team – which you end up getting if you advance far enough,” he said. “We weren’t able to continue, but it doesn’t take anything away from the way our guys came together and really became a team. So we were excited with how we finished the season – with the exception of the loss. But like it’s been said: There’s only one team that’s not going to be disappointed at the end of the year.”

Romar said West Virginia is capable of beating anyone else in the Final Four.

And here are 16 other things he said in his end-of-season press conference:

1. Isaiah Thomas and Justin Holiday are likely to emerge as leaders next season in the absence of this season’s captain and lone senior, Quincy Pondexter.

2. Everyone other than Pondexter is expected to return, although Romar cautioned that he hasn’t yet conducted postseason interviews with his players.

3. Next season’s pre-conference schedule “won’t change a whole lot” – in terms of philosophy. However, there is an unavoidable difference since the Huskies are scheduled to play in the Maui Classic in a field that includes Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wichita State and Chaminade. Also, UW will play Texas Tech at home and visit Texas A&M as part of the Big 12-Pac-10 Hardwood series, and will play Seattle University at KeyArena.

4. The team goes into the offseason healthy. However, Darnell Gant (hip) and Matthew Bryan-Amaning (hip), Tyreese Breshers (leg) and Thomas (hand) all are dealing with health issues that are not considered major.

5. He hopes to sign at least one new scholarship player for next season, in addition to previously announced incoming freshman Desmond Simmons, a 6-foot-7 forward from Richmond, Calif.

6. Additionally, he expects Breshers, Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox to be “like new players” next season. He said Gaddy needs to become a better shooter and improve his quickness, but “he’s just going to learn from this and use that natural ability that he has to be an outstanding guard for us.”

7. He does not regret either redshirting Wilcox or not redshirting forward Clarence Trent of Tacoma.

8. Roles for next season can’t be established yet – because at this point almost every player thinks he will average 20 points a game.

9. Various players are likely to make up for the loss of Pondexter’s 19.3 points per game. However, the “go-to guy” label is up for grabs, or could be shared by multiple options.

10. Holiday can average “solid double-figures” and be “a guy that you have to guard” next season.

11. The team will be tweaked to accommodate changing personnel, but Romar said the team’s up-tempo style has never changed in his eight seasons at UW.

12. He took his coat off, but said nothing – literally not a word – before being assessed a technical foul in the final game.

13. It’s too early for him to predict the team to beat in the Pacific-10 Conference race next season.

14. If Michigan State coach Tom Izzo – who has been rumored to be on Oregon’s list of candidates to replace Ernie Kent – joins the Pac-10 “it would elevate the level of our conference, because he’s a tremendous coach. He may have elevated himself to maybe be the top coach in the country right now.”

15. The Huskies will take a couple of weeks off, start individual workouts April 12, and start strength and conditioning work the following week.

16. The highlights of this season were the visit by ESPN’s “College Gameday” for the UCLA game, the first road win at Stanford, the win over California for the Pac-10 tournament title, and coming from 15 points behind to beat Marquette in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808