Tuesday Hoops Notes and Quotes

SEATTLE - With the Washington Huskies atop the Pac-12 basketball standings, the rest of the league is gunning for the Hoop Dawgs. With the rivalry between the Washington and Oregon schools as strong as ever, the standings add even more spice to the Huskies' road swing through the Beaver State, starting with Oregon Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena.

Here's what Lorenzo Romar, Darnell Gant, Shawn Kemp, Jr. and Tony Wroten had to say Tuesday during their weekly meeting with the media.

Lorenzo Romar Notes:
On Oregon last year and the court - The mid-line is thicker, can see it on TV now, but haven't really talked about it since.

On how the Oregon swing last year carried over - It was a down time for us. Was 7-1 at the time and then dropped three in a row, but then came back and played well, beat the Bay Area schools, but it wasn't like we went on a great streak or anything.

On last year's Oregon game - Didn't think we played poorly, had a chance at the end, but didn't think we played badly.

On the last Oregon game at home - Thought we were really dialed in defensively. At that point, I thought that was the best we could play on defense. Very determined. Devoe Joseph was 1-13, had an off-night.

On replicating that defense on the road - Did play well defensively against Arizona, wouldn't have had a chance to win that game if we don't play good defense.

On what to expect from the UO environment - Only a week-and-a-half removed from the UA game. Experienced that, and I expect UO to come just as hard at us. Hope the result is the same.

On rotation - As close as we've been all year. Just trying to manage C.J.'s minutes. But knowing who we want to play when and knowing what to expect at certain times...it's as close as we've been. As players, it helps too, because it creates a rhythm. And when a team hits a rhythm, they can be hard to deal with. Not there yet, but as close as we've been all year.

On C.J. - Not playing with pain right now. But that's what you try to do when you manage it. As long as he can continue to play without pain...that's why you don't play him back-to-back 35-minute games. And he wouldn't have to tell - we can tell. He can't hide it that much. Still not practicing, but he can shoot it in practice more than before.

On what's changed on the road - Level of confidence. Have the knowledge of knowing what it takes to win. Play patient, remain steady - that's helped with confidence to be able to play that way.

On Shawn Kemp - He was just finishing better, had a better idea of what we were doing defensively. Same thing that Austin Seferian-Jenkins did against Stanford. Did that with Shawn for UCLA and did well, so gave him another shot against USC. But up to that point he was fighting conditioning issues and had to shake the rust off from not playing in two years. Now he's learning what UW needs from him in their system. But take the best players and keep them away for two years and they'll even be behind. But he has a chance to be really good, and could impact the program in a positive way.

On Kemp wearing the No. 40 - Not sure that was his first choice. First thing I thought of was Jon Brockman. Then I realized there were some other big shoes to fill.

On Dana Altman turning UO around - He's a very good basketball coach, and two - Oregon had gone to the Elite 8 a couple times in the recent past. So it's not like they've been dormant for 30 years. They've had down times, but they've also built it up to some pretty nice success. What Kent did was the foundation. Everyone across the country knows how good Altman is. UO plays with structure and purpose.

On feeling good where you're at - For me, if you are 9-2, a game ahead - you'd think you were in the driver's seat, and I don't think that way at all. Feels like this whole season we've been trying to dig ourselves out of a hole. And we've got a really tough schedule to finish. I don't feel like we can relax at all.

On the last time they were 9-2, back in 2005 - Lost to UCLA and lost to Stanford at the end, but that team was on a roll. They were a well-oiled machine. Despite winning five, we have not hit our stride yet.

When will you know when you've hit that stride? It's just a feeling you get when you step out onto the floor - from your best player to your managers - you just know what's going to happen. You're going to punch in, do your work, and this is what's going to happen.

On how you played Arizona giving you a calming effect going into Oregon - No doubt. That game did a lot for our psyche.

On Wroten's health - He's good enough right now. He'd keep injuries to himself. He's beat up, but it's not so bad that if it was the end of the year he'd have to take a month off. It's not that bad. But he had everything imaginable on for armor. But he's not as dinged up as Isaiah was his last year. And he didn't want to say anything either.

On personality of the team - To compare with the 2005 team, you could almost count on going on 8-0, 10-0 run. And if they didn't, they wouldn't let the other team do it. This team is a lot more up and down. That team was battle-tested with veterans. This team isn't. That team had featured guys going into that year, this team didn't.

On trying to find the go-to guy - Have to say Terrence Ross has done that in the last few games. Tony Wroten has made plays, like the block at Arizona. You can't win consistently if you don't have players like that making plays. With this year's team, playing a lot of home games early was good for this team. If it had been flipped, we would not be 9-2 right now. Going into the second half, continue to mature and we continue to get closer toward reaching our potential. Much more prepared to face the road now.

On one guy in the huddle that wants the ball - Not really, but you can look at them and you can see - they want the ball. C.J., Tony, Terrence - they all want the ball. Terrence, he's made daggers against Utah, Arizona, UCLA - he's shown he has the ability to take over games.

Is Ross reluctant to be that guy at the end? - I don't think he makes it all that complicated. If he's on, he'll just be, 'I'll score the rest, if it's good for your guys'. In his mind, it's just that simple. It's not a matter of needing to be that guy. But if the shots are falling...

On offense getting better - Just have grown up more, working the scout better and have been better with shot selection. And because we've gotten wins on the road, that just helps reinforce what you're doing.

Same with defense? - It's just a matter of concentrating and focusing. If one guy forgets what he does, the whole defense looks like it's out of sync. That's all it takes.

On the champion of the Pac-12 and the lowest seed they should get - I really have no idea. If they call our name on Selection Sunday, I'll be fired up. That's all I know.

On what Oregon does when they are playing well - They are a much better team than when we played them in December. That team that went to UA and beat them, that was a better team. Same team that almost beat CU on the road, and we didn't play that well. Whatever happened in Seattle, we can throw that game out of the window.

You add up the years of experience of their starters, it's 19 years. I think it's the most in the league. For us, it's 10 years. And when you see what they've done on the road, that's a big part of it. Not only do they have experience now, but they also have more time in Altman's system, and that's a big help too.

On how UO lost to CU - Yeah, we've lost in every way imaginable too. Remember when we scored against Pitt at home to win and they took it away from us. And then lost to Stanford when we fouled a three-pointer too. Really depressing question.

On the extra day between UO and OSU - When you look at the records of teams that play Thursday-Sunday on the road, it's not great. So I don't think it's an advantage.

On when officials can go to the monitor? - Someone is going to develop some technology where it just takes a manner of seconds to get the information to the officials. Someone is going to get rich figuring that out. And maybe eventually you'll have someone reviewing the plays too.

On Gant coming back - Says a lot about Darnell to come back after the Cal shot and play the way he's playing. He could come back and start, but I don't know if it makes a difference. He's playing starter's minutes anyway.

On if the UO game feels like it has a championship-type vibe to it - There's a lot at stake. There was a lot at stake against USC. What if we lost that game? There's a lot to be gained by whoever wins this game.


Player Quotes:

Darnell Gant:
On Oregon - "It's going to be a good game, and we're going to be focused in practice. It's going to be big against Oregon, because right now we're both in the race for the Pac-12 championship. We're up at the top, and if we knock these dudes off it'll be good for us. At the same time we just want to be focused and dialed in this week, because it's going to be a tough week. The Oregon trip always worries me, and I know it worries coach because - especially when Oregon State had the 1-3-1 defense - of their defense and being down in Corvallis and Eugene, it's tough to get wins down there. So when you get wins down there, it's a testament to your team."

On bouncing back after the Cal game - "It's been real good. I've just tried to stay focused and stay positive about myself. Because at this point in my senior season, I can't be down on myself. I just have to be focused and be positive, be positive with the team and just try to stay in my leadership role."

On Oregon different between Altman and Kent - "I feel like they are more disciplined then back in Ernie Kent's team. I think Ernie Kent gave his teams a little more freedom. This team is a little more structure, but they are talented enough that they can grind you in the half-court and they can get up and run. They can also shoot the three real well. That's the difference between this team and Ernie Kent's teams."

On taking stock from the last time UW played UO - "It's going to be a tough game, because everyone gets better throughout the season. It doesn't matter how much we beat them by here; now we're going to their home court, and they have the home-court advantage. They have a good crowd. It's not as good as the Dawg Pack, in my opinion - but nonetheless it's still their home court and they are going to be fired up, because it's for a championship."

On playing at MATT Court - "It's bigger (than Mac Court); there's more people. It's an arena, like an NBA arena-type atmosphere - like SC's is. It's just another venue to play in, though."

On playing his best basketball of his career right now - "I guess you could say that. I'm just trying to play to win and do whatever I can and help my guys. I feel like Terrence, Tony, Abdul and the rest of the guys are doing such a good job - especially on the offensive end, and I feel like everyone has stepped it up on the defensive end. I'm just trying to be the anchor - help be the anchor. I'm just trying to stay confident, because confidence is key. I'm just trying to have fun, trying to enjoy my last days here as a Husky. I'm enjoying them right now, and I want to keep enjoying them. A Pac-12 Championship is going to be the icing on the cake."

On Shawn Kemp, Jr. - "He needs to be more comfortable, because we really need him. Him and Austin - that's two more guys off the bench that can give us something. We need his energy and his fire that he could bring. He's a talented player, and now I feel like he's starting to show it."

On Shawn Kemp, Sr. - "Freak athlete. There was something wrong with that guy. I remember when I was younger watching him and it was crazy. I knew he was going to get a dunk every game - but you just never knew what he was going to do. It just amazed you every time."

On Jr's dunk being like his Dad's - "Yeah, that left-handed one? That one was crazy, plus I was in the game…it's just good to see him playing good and playing confident right now, because we need him."

On being away from the game for two years - "I couldn't imagine it. I would have a hard time adjusting. It's hard to not play basketball for two years."

On Austin's energy and physicality - "It helps us. We need as many physical guys as we can get. When Austin comes in and he's pounding it in the middle, that really helps us. Teams are afraid of that; that intimidates guys. And we need that intimidation factor with him, Aziz and Shawn. It motivates us a lot. We need that. That's putting extra gas on the fire."


Shawn Kemp:
On getting back into the groove - "Well, it's been hard getting back into things, but lately it's been coming about. I've been doing what I need to do to get back into the role I've been playing, so it's been going pretty good. I've been doing a lot less thinking. Things are a lot less easier trying to get into the flow of things, so a lot less thinking."

On playing with the No. 40 - "It wasn't too much of a thought process. I kind of wanted to get a different number, but after a while I was just like I'll keep wearing it. There's definitely a lot of pressure. Everybody expects me to be something like him, but we're two different people."

On seeing ASJ playing and how that motivated him - "It motivated me a lot, actually. I had to step up on a lot of things, actually."

On conditioning level and weight lost - "Probably about 25 pounds. I feel really lighter. I probably could have done it (make the left-hand dunk), but it wouldn't have been that easy."


Tony Wroten:
On his health - "This is the time and point where there's no need to be sitting out, so I'm trying my best to get to 100 percent. But I practiced today and I'll practice today - so I'll continue to practice. I feel it (injuries) in the game, but if I'm sitting down…at halftime when it gets stiffened up it feels the worst, but I feel it at all times."

On wearing the body armor like Isaiah did last year - "Especially on the road, when you don't get a lot of fouls…me and him try and go to the hole similar too, try to finish. I had to learn the hard way, getting banged up - so that's why I'm wearing all these elbow pads. It's not for fashion; I'm just really banged up from my thigh, elbow, wrist."

On what he started out the year - "I had nothing. All I had was jersey, shorts, socks, and shoes. Now I have two arm sleeves, two calf sleeves, I'm wearing pads for my thighs - I'm all banged up. I feel more like a football player than a basketball player."

On starting next year armored up - "Definitely, especially when we get out in the summertime because I want to stay ahead of my health and not get any injuries."

On being this beat up over the course of a season - "Never. Obviously I've had injuries before, but never had this many nagging injuries. College, you have to step up. People are stronger, harder fouls - you're going to fall harder. I've just got to wear my pads and get ready for the next game."

On hiding his injuries - "If it's not serious, you'd never hear me complain about anything like that. When I hurt my thigh against UCLA, coach came back to me and asked, 'Are you OK?' I was alright. It's just having the mindset that you're not injured, but at the end of the day after practice, you're going to feel it. I just try to avoid it as much as I can."

On what they did against UA and how that can help against UO - "After Arizona I asked all my teammates who have been there, and they said that's the loudest place we're going to play at. Oregon is very loud, but if we can win there (Arizona) we can win anywhere. Oregon is a great school, they are good. When they came here it was a tough win for us. It's going to be tough, but if we do what we're supposed to do we can come out with the win."

On being able to block out the noise - "At the beginning of the game you're like 'Man, this is seriously loud'. As the game goes on, you block it out. At the end of the day, the crowd makes a difference, but once you're locked in an focused you block it out."

On how much fun he's having right now - "It's real fun. Being from the Seattle area and coming to games and watching all the people come here - for me to be here and be blessed on a team like this, and for us to not just be playing well but to be in first place in the Pac-12 championship - I just cherish every moment and take it game by game."

On how good Terrence Ross - "Outstanding. He's so athletic; there's nothing he can't do. He's outstanding. He's one of the best players I've ever played against and have played with. I'm just glad he's on my team. He knows he's very talented, but I don't think he knows how good he is and how good he could be. He knows that he's good, and it shows so much. But what he's capable of doing is unbelievable."

On what would happen if Terrence had Tony's aggressiveness - "He's actually - without a lot of aggressiveness - one of the best players in the country. But I feel if he adds that, he'll be the best player in the country, hands down. We'd be undefeated."

On why he doesn't have that - "Everybody is a different personality. I can't tell you why he doesn't have it, but everybody is different."

On improving free throws - "I'm just focusing, continue to work on them. As much as I was missing, I never stopped. Every day in practice, I'm trying to get better and work on everything - I find time for free throws. When you're playing away or at home you've got a lot of things going on with the crowd and everything, but at the free throw line it's just you - so you have to go tunnel vision. It's just you and the hoops. That's what I've been doing. And they are going in right now."

On the best thing Terrence Ross - "Score. From anywhere. Anywhere you put him, he's going to score the ball. You can contain him sometimes, but you can't stop Terrence. He has the all-around game; he can shoot, dribble, he's athletic, he can jump…he reminds me of J.R. Smith. That's who he reminds me of."


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