Video/Notes - Lorenzo Romar

SEATTLE - With the Washington men's basketball team leaving for Europe and Senegal on Saturday, head coach Lorenzo Romar talked about the trip, new assistant Brad Jackson, and the passing of George Hickman - the Tuskegee Airman that was a fixture at UW Football and Hoops games for well over two decades. He also spoke about a switch in his offensive philosophy fans will see this fall.

Here's what Romar had to say about the passing of Hickman, a man who always was around with a smile on his face. To read more about Hickman, his life and his impact as a person - click here

I found that out early this morning. I know George earlier had some health issues and if you talked to him you would never know it. The way he came around after he was away for a while you got a sense that he wasn't totally right, but he still had a smile on his face and an encouraging word for you. He's definitely one of those guys you wish you could have seen him one more time before he left us. Talk about a guy who leaves everyone he comes in contact with feeling a little bit better that was George Hickman.

He's been here every home game I can remember he's been here to shake your hand and to encourage you and there were games and times we weren't doing very well, the team wasn't doing very well and 'hang in there' _ he always had an encouraging word. George Hickman donated money to our basketball program. He was always looking to help someone. Whenever I came in contact with him it was all about the other person. It was never about George and that is very, very rare.

It took me the longest before I realized his history with the Tuskegee Airmen. It took me the longest to know that was the case. He would never talk about that. He was just a special, special person. He is a guy that if everyone came forward and said how he touched their lives we would probably fill up that arena (pointing out to the basketball arena) at least.

Share his story with players?:
Yeah, I think when the whole Red Tails movie came out we talked about it then and couldn't wait to talk to George about it. I still don't know if they totally understood what he did and what he was involved with.

He helped make history. He helped put African-Americans on the map in the military. He was a part of that. How many people can say that and he did it with great humility. The one side many didn't get to see and maybe by being a coach you just see this a little bit, George had some fire in him. He was a very nice guy but there was a little toughness in there. You could see how he was successful doing what he was doing.

Why was he in the tunnel where the players come out:
I don't know, but when he was having health issues, 'where's George? Where is he?" I don't know how he got there, but didn't George raise the flag the 12th man, who got him to do that. How did he get to that. He just touches so many people. The bible talks about don't show up at the banquet and sit in the front without being invited. The king may see you and make you sit in the back. Sit in the back and have the King invite you to sit in the front. It is much better that way. George is really like that. I think everyone wanted George to come sit in the front.
When asked about Brad Jackson, UW's new assistant coach to replace the departing Raphael Chillious - who has gone to Villanova - Romar said Jackson - who spent the last 27 years as Western Washington's head coach, guiding them to a Division-II National Championship last year - would focus on scouting, recruiting and program development. Jackson will also focus his time working with the guards, while Paul Fortier will work with the big men.

Romar said that he's tried to hire Jackson before, but timing just wasn't right. He said Jackson has a great demeanor, but there's also a definite fiery/competitive side to him.

Romar also announced that with the addition of Jackson will come a shift in how they approach the game offensively. Instead of the Lute Olson-based motion offense he's used primarily during his time at Washington, Romar will instead start implementing a high-post look with a one-guard front instead of the more traditional two-guard front. The high post offense is an offensive staple made famous by John Wooden at UCLA and also used by such legendary coaches as Dean Smith at North Carolina and Denny Crum at Louisville. Jim Harrick also utilized it when Romar was an assistant at UCLA.

To learn more about the basics of the high-post attack, click on the link below.

UCLA's High Post Offense

Romar said that the team has had five practices right now and have grasped the fundamentals of the switch well. He added that with the Europe trip happening, as well as the Jackson hire - the timing of a permanent move to the high-post offense just made sense. By the time they get back from Europe they'll have it fully installed and by the time October comes around they will be just working out the kinks instead of initiating the installation process.

He also said that under no circumstances does this high-post move mean the team is slowing down their offensive system. They will still run as hard as ever, but the move (Romar believes) will give them a better chance to win tight games at the end. He also feels that it fits their personnel better - a high-post offense really involves the point guard, works best with bigger guards and it also works to the advantage of having long, athletic big men with solid skill sets.

When asked about the defense, he said that fundamentally they won't change - they'll just be better and more effective at what they were trying to do.

In terms of their Europe and Senegal trip, the team leaves 8/25 for Barcelona. They will spend the next five days in Barcelona, playing games on the 27th (Barcelona) and the 29th (Zaragoza). They will travel on 8/30 to Nice in France, where they will play a game versus Antibes the following day and against Monaco the day after that.

On September 2nd, the team will travel from Nice to Paris, where the team will play on the 3rd versus Paris-Levallois and on the 4th versus Rueil.

Then it's off to Dakar, Senegal - home to current Husky senior center Aziz N'diaye. They will play one game in Sengal on the 7th and then it's back to Paris on the 8th before returning to Seattle.

Along the way they'll be going to such famous venues as the Gothic Quarter, the Olympic Stadium, the Picasso Museum and Las Ramblas in Barcelona, as well as the Prince of Monaco's palace, Monte Carlo - and the Eiffel Tower, Musee d'Orsay, Louvre and the Palace of Versailles in Paris.

When asked about the Dakar part of the trip, Romar mentioned the movie Elevate, a film documenting Senegalese basketball players and their journey to America to play. Included in the documentary was N'Diaye. To find out more about the movie, click here

Romar said when he heard about the movie he thought adding a few days in Senegal would not only allow Aziz's family to see what their son had been doing with his time in the states and who he he's been playing with and going to school, but it would also allow his teammates to get a taste of where Aziz came from and what his background is all about. Romar added that the cultural factor is critical to all this, as they'll be taking part in a safari and a trip to Goree Island, a 15th century slave-trade island.
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