Romar still trying to find winning formula

Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar met with the press Friday, still believing his Huskies can put it all together as they face the most important game of the season so far, a Saturday home date versus Oregon State. Time is running out on the Huskies, who have lost their first two league games.

Are you in must win mode right now? “We have to come out and play for sure. We can’t look beyond this. This is a huge game. The next one always is, but this is an even bigger one because we’ve squandered away two opportunities at home to start off on the right foot. This is a very important game.”

Do you plan to change your scheme? “What we’re doing is not the issue. It’s we’re not doing it consistent enough. Should we go back and change the first half against Oregon? I think the last part of the first half it ended up 42-33. Right before that, we were up 24-21 at one point. Whatever we did at that point, do we change that? Do we change how we played against Washington State when we were up 13? If we’re doing something totally wrong the entire time you get up, you don’t play; you’re just down the entire time every game. We’ve got to be more consistent with what we do. That’s the bottom line. We’re just not consistent enough in whatever we’re doing.”

How can you practice to succeed during adversity? “We have to continue, and I say this all the time, we have to continue to watch film. We have to continue to address it. We have to continue to hold each other accountable. We have to be in adverse situations in practice like we try to do already. We have to continue to do it. It’s hard. I wish had 20 more games to play so we could be even more experienced, but you don’t do that. We can’t do it. We’re in the conference. We’ve played two games of conference. We have 16 games of conference play left. You can’t prepare anymore. We do need to have a sense of urgency of every play is so important right now. It’s just so important. Every possession, every pass is so important. That’s not to create a measure of tension or anxiety. It’s just real. It’s reality that we have to understand it. I believe it was about a four to five minute stretch in the Oregon game that got us down 20. It was about two minutes in the first half. It was 42-39 with 18 minutes to go, a little over 18 minutes with 42-39. And we had the momentum. We were getting stops. And you look up, there it is again. Then it was we’re down 10. We’re at the free throw line and we make two free throws, now it’s eight. There it went. Bad shot here, turnover there, lost coverage, there it goes. Just like that. We haven’t understood yet. We haven’t been able to grasp yet how important those situations are. We were up 22-5 against TCU on the road. A bad shot, three turnovers. There it is. Just like that. The team is back. They didn’t catch up at the time. They didn’t even the score, but that gets it going. We haven’t grasped that yet. So we can change. We can adjust. We can do all this. When it comes to that point where now we have to make sure we get a stop, take care of the ball, we can’t have a breakdown. It’s going to come to that point regardless of what defense we’re in, offense we’re in. That’s where we’re at.”

Are you still optimistic about how this team can end up? “If we can figure it out fast. The luxury I have more than the average fan is to have coaching and been around a number of different teams and have seen the times when they hit or that we hit and you realize ‘oh uh, we’re in big trouble.’ And then to also see, just think like ‘we’re not getting, we’re not getting it, and then all of a sudden it clicks.’ I’ve seen them both. Because I’ve been in those situations that’s why I can feel optimistic that it can still click. After two conference games ‘yeah, but they were at home’ and ‘you’re 7-7.’ It’s alright. We can figure it out quickly enough. And it has to happen fast obviously. I’m still very optimistic about this team.”

Can grit be taught? “It can be taught, but it’s just like shooting in some ways. Shooting is not taught in a week. If you have the potential to be a good shooter, you have to have the potential. If you just can’t shoot, that wasn’t one of the things you were blessed with then that’s a different deal. But if you have the potential and you just haven’t shot it well, like an Andrew Andrews who was a 30% foul shooter or Isaiah Thomas who didn’t shoot the ball well but kept working over a period of time he got it where he became a really good shooter. Andrew Andrews became a really good shooter over a period of time, but it doesn’t happen overnight. That toughness part of it, a lot of it has to be in you. But some of it can be acquired over a period of time. He would smile if he was right here sitting next to me, but Quincy Pondexter when he left here, I saw him strike fear into opponents. I saw him physically abuse opponents. I saw it. I saw him intimidate people when he was here his last year his last year. That wasn’t the case when he first got here. Over a period of time it happened. I’ve seen it happen with Matthew Bryan-Amanning. I’ve seen it with a number of guys over a period of time, but it didn’t happen when they were really young. It didn’t happen. We’re hopeful that this curve can quicken so to speak. We just have to - we don’t have another year. We have a game tomorrow. We play Oregon State tomorrow. We can’t wait. It has to happen. We’re working toward it. The sooner the better.”

On Oregon State “They are a team that is improving every week to me. They didn’t win the two games against USC and UCLA, but I thought they played Ucla pretty tough. They kept that game close and we know UCLA is a really, really good team. Their last game against Washington State they lost, but they had every chance to win that game also. They’re a team that is really improving. They’re going to get coach’s son (Tres Tinkle) back and they’re going to get even better whenever he gets back. (Drew) Eubanks is becoming one of the top post players in our league. He’s a load to deal with.”

On guys like JaQuori McLaughlin and Malachi Flynn wanting to play better when they play close to home at UW “Wanting to play better, there’s no question when you come home. I remember over the years Marcus Williams, who played here, played at Arizona, came back and had a great game against us. I remember as a player myself going back to Los Angeles playing against UCLA, USC. I remember UCLA, it was the year they went to the Final Four, 1980, and we beat them there and I played pretty good. I just remember just going home you circle that game from day one, when I get to go home. Guys always get pretty excited about doing it.”

On what he’s seen from JaQuori McLaughlin “What we thought. He was not a starter at first, but now he plays as many minutes as anyone on that team. He’s a good basketball player, no doubt about it.”

Have you gone back and watched the loss at Oregon State last year? “At the beginning of the year - I haven’t looked at the game as much as the last five minutes of the game. I don’t reply it every night, but I have gone back to it and watched it several times.”

Is the sting of that loss still there? “Yeah. It’s still there. There was a lot of meaning. There was a lot of meaning to that game. There are probably four games since we’ve been here in 15 years that carried a lot of weight, carried a lot of significance on our season, the future, all that. And that would be one of them.”

Would you change anything from that game if you could? “As far as the basketball game was concerned, hindsight is 20/20 obviously. I would have hoped we could - we could have slowed the ball down that last shot. It wasn’t just that last shot. Again, I think it was a minute and a half, something like that, and we were up seven. (Tres) Tinkle hit a shot fake three pointer with our guy all over him. That was a big a shot almost as the three that Steven Thompson. That is the one that got them in the ball park. If he doesn’t hit that shot, game over. We missed free throws. We couldn’t come up with two rebounds down the stretch. We got them to miss and we couldn’t come up with a couple of rebounds. Just everything that could have went bad went bad in a minute in a half. There’s a lot you wish could change. I would say that if we played that game 10 times the same circumstances we probably get it done. Game with NCAA ramifications and all kinds of things at stake we didn’t pull it out.”


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