Pac-12 Tournament Notes and Quotes

SEATTLE - Lorenzo Romar was asked questions about the NCAA Tournament Tuesday, but the Pac-12 Tournament is all he's interested in right now. Starting Thursday, it's either the Oregon State Beavers or Washington State Cougars that stand in the way of Washington getting that one step closer to punching their ticket to the place they are desperate to reach.

Romar has one thought for those that think they've got their pick for a Pac-12 Tournament winner wired - bon chance.

"Good luck in picking a winner of this one," he said with a slight chuckle.

He doesn't envy the Beavers or Cougars either; they'll have to win four games in four days to earn that automatic Pac-12 berth to the NCAA Tournament. Because this is the first year the Pac-12 has played their tournament with 12 teams, no one has had to worry about even attempting this rare feat, but Romar has experienced it when he took the Saint Louis Billikens to the NCAA Tournament in just his first year.

"It's difficult, very difficult," Romar said Tuesday. "A lot of things have to fall your way. When we did it, we played four opponents in four days, including No. 1 Cincinnati, and not one of them scored over 60 points. So when I talk about defense being able to get you over the hump…that's crucial."

That being said, he agrees that it's better for the conference to continue to include all the teams, as opposed to using the same format that was used for all the Pac-10 Tournaments since 2006, citing the fact that you never know who is going to get hot and surprise people at an opportune time.

From 1987 to 1990 and 2006-11, all ten teams participated in the tournament, with the top six teams receiving a bye in the opening round. Between 2002 and 2005, only the top eight teams in the conference participated in the tournament.

So who does he think is hot right now? "Oregon for sure," he said. "UCLA, just saw what that was like. Definitely dangerous, those two. For us, we've had tough game with our opponents that we're playing against - Oregon State and Washington State. They've been dangerous when we've played 'em."

Romar admitted it's not an ideal situation for the Huskies, as they won't know who they are going to play until roughly 2 pm Wednesday, but that won't be an excuse for them.

"We know we have already played both twice already and within the last month, so it's not like the NCAA Tournament, where we haven't seen them at all and only watched them on film," he said. "All teams are familiar with everyone now."

Playing at least three games in three days will be a new experience for all the teams, and since Washington has won the last two Pac-12 Tournaments, the Huskies have a tested formula for success.

"Make sure fresh, that you're rested," Romar said, for starters. "Somehow make sure that you're going in playing with a lot of confidence. You've got to defend, because if your legs do get weary and the ball isn't going in the basket, you've got to be able to guard. If you don't guard in this tournament, you're not going to win it."

Speaking of staying fresh, Romar said Tuesday that he's not aware of any new injuries, but they will have to pay close attention to both C.J. Wilcox (hip) and Aziz N'diaye (wrist). Both have injuries that won't be exacerbated by more play other than the pain management that will be required the more minutes they stay on the court. This will be especially significant for the sophomore from Pleasant Grove, Utah - who missed a handful of games in the middle of the season because of a hip problem that has really limited his availability during the second half of the season.

"Whenever we have a chance, we'll try and rest him. We're not going to go out and take away from the team performing at its best by sitting him down. We just have to go game to game. At this point in the year there could be more pain, but in a three-day period that might be the extent of it. I don't know if three days means it gets to the point where it was before when he first sat out.

"We preferred that he sat out those three games that he sat out during league then to have to sit down now. And if he had continued to do what he was doing, he would not have been able to finish the season, and then he would have been at risk to injure himself further. Because he was shut down totally, it allowed him to get back to where he's feeling relatively pain-free right now and he's able to finish strong."

Now it's a matter of making sure the Huskies are playing their best basketball of the season. Going 10-2 their final 12 games, including a solid 3-1 road mark certainly lends credence to the thought that Washington is in a good position to defend their regular-season title and No. 1 seed.

With Wilcox scoring 22 against UCLA, Tony Wroten continuing to produce and Terrence Ross averaging 17 points in his last six games - including his 2-point performance at Washington State - Washington seems to have their top scorers all on point. But who could break out in the tournament, much like Wilcox and Ross last year. "Abdul Gaddy could be that guy," Romar said of his junior point guard. "He had 10 assists in the first half against UCLA. Abdul is slowly becoming more aggressive and making more plays. He could be someone that really steps up in this tournament."

And of Wroten? A lot is going to be asked of the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in an environment he's never been in before. So what is Romar hoping for? "To play like he did at UCLA," he said. "I thought Tony played really good at UCLA. He missed some shots around the rim that he usually makes, some layups. But he was really focused and really trying to play right. Five assists and two turnovers, rebounding… Just watching him, I was like, 'Tony has come a long ways'. He scored more points, but he just played a really, really good floor game - as he's done more frequently down the stretch."

More Notes and Quotes:

Romar on California's Jorge Gutierrez winning the Pac-12 Player of the Year award, and if the selection was based more on his intangibles than his statistics: "I definitely think it was one time where maybe the coaches that voted for him saw an individual that just left it all out there on the floor," he said. "Sure for four years, but this year as well - just giving his team everything he had with zero ego involved. I think the coaches that voted for him showed their appreciation for that part of the game too, not just the guys that get on Sports Center. That might be why the coaches that selected him voted for him."

Romar also said that, while the coaches aren't allowed to vote for their own players, he doesn't need to know how the final count. "Cast your own vote, and see what the results are," he said, matter-of-factly. He added that they are faxed their voting ballots at the beginning of last week and they are expected in 'by Sunday at sundown'.

He was also asked why the Pac-12 First Team was bumped up from five to 10 players a few years ago. "The coaches just felt like that when it was a five-man team, there were 2-3 players that every year were getting slighted, and I would agree there," he said. "That's why it's more than just five."

Moving to Vegas: Even though the Pac-12 hasn't officially announced it yet, many news outlets have reported that starting in 2013, the Pac-12 Tournament will be held in Las Vegas. Romar was asked for his opinion on this breaking news. "It will definitely be different, and it will take some getting used to, but there are other conferences have decided to move to Vegas to have their tournaments," he said. "There are a lot of positives to having the tournament in Los Angeles, but I have a lot of respect for Larry Scott and his vision, and I'm sure there's been a lot of research that has gone into it and how they made this decision. So I'm sure it's going to work out just fine."

Sin City is known for its world-famous distractions. Will that be a problem? "Yeah, but there are distractions in LA too," Romar said. "Hopefully you plan right and stay in the appropriate places, and you can avoid that."

Home and Home with UCONN? - Assistant Coach Jim Shaw told Dave 'Softy' Mahler Tuesday on KJR-950AM that a deal is very close that would have Washington go to Connecticut in December for a game, and UCONN would return the favor during the 2013-2014 season. "It's not done yet, we're still putting the finishing touches on it," Romar said of the proposed series. "But if it were to happen we're always trying to get a marquee team to come here. We're trying to get a quality opponent for a home-home situation every year if we can. The Big-12 Challenge kind of helped us with that. It serves two purposes - quality opponent, but it'll be a nationally-televised game if we can get it done. We prefer to play those as opposed to maybe just regional. It'll be good all the way around."

The 2012-2013 schedule is shaping up to be a rough one, as the Huskies will host Saint Louis and Nevada, and they will also head back east to take part in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tournament in mid-November, one that includes Ohio State, Seton Hall and Rhode Island. Top Stories