Q&A - Lorenzo Romar

SEATTLE - Washington Men's Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar met with the media Tuesday afternoon to talk about the beginning of fall camp, injury status on Venoy Overton and Desmond Simmons, as well as more on the new big man Aziz N'Diaye, and what Romar looks for as he watches practice and starts to put together his roster for the 2010-2011 season.

On getting back to practice - "It was good to have everyone together and not have 30 or 40 minutes and you're done for the day. It was good to see guys pick things up and how guys played together. It was good."

On the roster turnover - "I think it's a better shooting team, they are a little different that way. We've had teams before where we've had good athletes, but you could put certain combinations in the game and we weren't as athletic. Just about any combination we put in, we're athletic, and it should allow us to do a good job defensively, consistently. Those things, and then Aziz N'Diaye - a big guy in the middle that can run the floor. That's not something we've had in nine years…we had Spencer (Hawes) who could do that, but we only had one year with Spencer."

On getting away - "It wasn't 100 percent how we like, because we had a couple of guys with late classes on Friday. Normally we would have gotten away as soon as classes were done at 1:30, but we practiced here. But it still worked out good."

On pleasant surprises - "The overall attitude of the team. And I wouldn't say it's a pleasant surprise, it was pleasant to see. It was good to see. Also, things that we're expecting from people, guys are stepping up and making plays, doing a good job. It wasn't anyone where we thought this person hadn't spent any time in the summer, they are no different than last year…everyone has made strides in some area."

On Venoy - "He's slowed by that hamstring. He's going to be out a couple more weeks."

On Desmond Simmons - "Desmond is cleared to go. He's going to start doing more work with us in practice."

On what Venoy can do to stay in shape - "He can do things…you can't simulate game shape, I don't care what you do, except play games. He'll still do things on the side. He just can't take off and explode quickly. If he gradually got up to a pace where he can run as fast as he could, he could almost do that. But the quick, explosive moves, those are the things that hurt him.

On being concerned about the injury - "I'm concerned that he's not at practice today, but no, he'll be fine."

On being veteran enough to deal with getting a lot of props - "So far, they've handled it pretty good. So far, but we'll see. We'll see when day three turns into day 12 of practice. We'll see."

On when was the last team to get this kind of attention - "2007. We didn't make the tournament that year. "

On coaching them to handle the press - "They've shown so far that they are a pretty mature group and have handled things pretty well. But we've not faced any adversity at all. Last year we probably made more predictions and when we faced adversity we didn't do very well. So we'll see."

On the team being easier to coach because of the veterans - "What's good is Venoy, Justin Holiday, Isaiah, Darnell, Matthew…in short, the veterans are policing each other. Which is really good. They know what to expect, they come out…they joke around about practicing long and hard, but they don't see it as drudgery; they are going out and being professionals about it, to me. Business-like, workman-like. And that always helps you when you're trying to build a team. And they seem to understand each other; they seem to understand who does what well. That's half the battle a lot of the times."

On if that can help speed up things in terms of installation - "We've been able to shore up some areas quicker than putting in a bunch of new things. I just feel that we're maybe a little more solid now at this time than we have been in some years."

On C.J. Wilcox and what he got out of his RS year - "He's stronger, that's for sure. He understands a lot more the defensive end of the floor. He understands offensively what we're trying to do, as opposed to someone coming in as a freshman still trying to learn those things. The time management aspect of college as a freshman is something that is difficult to prepare for, and a lot of times that's as tough on someone as anything; to manage your time with your classes and your tutoring, and somehow find time to eat and do things like that can stretch you out when the coaches are getting on you and it doesn't seem like things aren't going right because you don't understand the system yet. C.J. has gone through all those things, so he's more equipped to come out here, ready to go."

On what Wilcox can do if defenses take him off the three-point line - "What do you want him to do? Put it like this; he is not a mechanical, if I don't have a shot I can do nothing else but pass…that's not C.J. Sometimes because he's such a good shooter he's billed that way to where he can't do anything else, but he can put the ball on the floor, he can take the ball to the rim, he can dunk on you. He can take two dribbles and pull up in the paint…that's not all he does is shoot. But he's good at that."

On Aziz this weekend and anything standing out - "I don't know if it was just his overall work ethic or coachability…not one play necessarily stood out to me. Those are things you expect him to do. He had a couple good blocks, he had a couple put-backs…alright, that's why we recruited you."

On having a big man like Aziz before - "We haven't had one that has had the defensive presence that way. Spencer Hawes was the tenth player picked in the draft, so we've had a really good big man; Jon Brockman, we know what he did, and he was 6-7 3/4…but we've not had a 7-footer that mixes it up and rebounds and is an enforcer-type. He helps our game plan: We've played the way we play and have gotten away with it without having one of the key components in making our system work; that's someone back there with us applying pressure out front. Matthew, Darnell, and even Tyreese (Breshers) did a good job - we had more blocks last year as a team than we've had in nine years, so we did a better job. But now we have someone that is back there that is pretty imposing down there. That just helps our defense. So we don't have to do anything new - like now, all of a sudden we can play the way we wanted to play - it just helps it be more effective in how we've already been playing."

On being able to gamble or pressure more because of Aziz - "Sometimes with us going out and pressuring the way we do, you really have to trust your teammates back there. Sometimes you're going to get beat. If that's the case, we've got a guy back there when, if there is a breakdown, can clean up our mess, so to speak. I don't think our guys see it as, we can play undisciplined because he's back there. But when something does break down, here's a guy out here that can hold the fort down."

On finding Aziz - "Coach Chill knew Aziz when he first came over here (from Senegal) and was aware of who he was. We have had a good relationship with the people over at College of Southern Idaho…coach Shaw even has gone up there when we weren't recruiting anybody just to go by and see those guys. So that's how we found out about him."

On if he fits the 'Romar style' - "Absolutely. That question comes up - we get two sides: When are you going to get a big man? And we get one. So does that fit your style? (laughs) It compliments our style. Every time we've gone to the Sweet 16, that team looks the same. They have different jerseys, but the makeup of that team looks the same - they have size. Aziz is the guy that, when we play those type teams, he's someone that hopefully can neutralize their big guys that way. He's a mobile big guy. But I have to caution you - Aziz is recovering from a torn ACL, so he didn't play at all last year, number one. Number two, he is still developing as a basketball player. He is not the finished product at all, and I don't mean that in the project sense. I just mean that it may take him a while to really get going; he still has to learn our system. He's new also. I don't think he's played…he's out on the floor at half-court, trying to deny. He won't do that all the time, but he hasn't left the paint much. And he's getting it, but it took Jon Brockman four years to be able to go out on the perimeter and get out there and defend somebody out there and deny a wing. Took him four years, he hadn't done it. Aziz is taller than Jon; Jon was probably more nimble than Aziz. So don't expect the first game to come out and be Shaq. He's going to be fine, but he has to get that year back where he didn't play, or practice. I could see if he practiced but didn't play, but he didn't do either."

On his minutes - "We don't have a cap. We're trying to win games. There are some times guys that need a breather, so you get 'em out. Some other times they just hit four in a row, so it's time out. Sit down and get your breather. You're not coming out. But Aziz, he's just making us a better team. There's no cap on minutes. If you're talking about conditioning because he hasn't played a year, but I don't know…"

On his conditioning - "He ran a 5:20 mile, so his conditioning isn't bad."

On how many lineups are possible - "We could go with a bigger lineup, we could go with a smaller lineup, we could go with shooters, we could go with penetrators - we just have to see what's best. And there's going to be other factors; whose going to be the guys that are going to generate turnovers for us and make life hard for the opponents on offense. That's a big factor in how we play. Come out and put five defenders…in the past we've had guys that could defend well but maybe didn't score, and vise-versa; some of our good defenders are now guys that can score also, so that helps."

On having a sense of a starting lineup right now - "No. We change every day in practice, give everybody a chance to play with different guys, just to look at different combinations."

On what he's looking for during practice - "You always look at who has an impact on the score. Who has the most impact on the score, and who, as a result of them being out there on the floor, who lifts that team up to where they are just a little better because they are out there…and those are the guys that get to play the most. Guys sometimes have it twisted; I talk to our team all the time about guys that go to NBA camps and get cut and they go back home…what happened? "Man, I was killing 'em. None of them could stop me!" Well, they are paying guys millions of dollars to score. Who are the guys that are going to stop the other guys? Who are the guys that are going to rebound? Who are the guys…Justin Holiday is a great example; he may not score 20 points in a game, and we may score 80 or 90 points, but he'll have a big hand in a lot of those points, because he can play any position on the floor offensively. He has a great IQ, so he knows where everyone is supposed to be, so he makes your offense flow better when he's on the floor. So that's one example of who has an impact on that score. Sometimes you have guys…a guy told me before he once described someone who keeps both teams in the game. They are scoring, but their other guy is scoring same as they do, so that's not having an impact on the score. A lot of intangibles go into that when you ask that question."

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