Romar admits team can't play 'Husky Defense'

On Wednesday, Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar admitted that his current team cannot play the up-tempo, full-court, attacking style of man-to-man defense that became what he liked to call 'Husky Defense'. They tried to do it earlier in the year, but many factors, chiefly experience, led Romar to move away from 'Husky Defense'.

How’s the team doing? - “Coming along. We practiced and just sticking with it.”

How did they respond in practice? - “I thought we did fine. Guys put forth effort. Yeah.”

Better sense of what happened in the UCLA game after watching the tape? - “What happened, yes. Why it happened, I don’t know. UCLA, when they get it going it’s hard to stop them offensively, but that just wasn’t our team that night.”

In terms of defense, did it look like any other game this year? - “It was weird because it wasn’t just pure defense. We turned the ball over 20 times. Just across the board that just wasn’t our team. You can’t point at any one thing. Our turnovers led to easy baskets for them. I know in the first half it was 27-17. Matisse had a reverse layup. I think at one point it was 41-29 and after that it just didn’t work.”

Officially up against the wall and have to do anything you can to stop the rot? - “We come out, we practice, we’ve made all sorts of adjustments this year in how we’ve tried to play defensively, offensively. We’re just still waiting to that point to where we just play the right way consistently. I did think we were making progress up until the UCLA game. So we have to get back to where we were before the UCLA game. We can’t take that UCLA game and have that define everything that we’re doing. Like that’s the team we are, because that wasn’t the team we are.”

Matisse as a great stealer - “Some of it is innate. He used to gamble a lot and get out of position trying to get steals. He doesn’t do that as much anymore. He’s older, he’s more mature, he knows how to pick his spots. He does have have unusually long length, close to a 7-foot wingspan. He anticipates well. He’s extremely quick. Extremely gifted that way. He’s been stealing balls for a long time on that basketball floor, so he has a pretty good idea of when he can get to one. He’s really good as just laying back in the woods as if he’s not there but he can get there.”

Getting teams the second go-around now and your approach - “I don’t know about surprises as much as you show your team both - where we were hurt and where we were successful. As a coaching staff you try and determine the ways you were successful, how they may counter and force you to not be as successful. And on the flip side, the areas where you were deficient you try and adjust so you can be on the positive this go-around.”

Anything you can take from the OT win versus Colorado, then, that will help you on Thursday? - “Yeah, but not necessarily in terms of just strategically. They were up 17 in the second half. How did that happen? Our team needs to understand that. Our team also needs to understand that when we finally caught them and were up four, we had a number of breakdowns defensively where we could not put them away. It’s important for our team to understand those things.”

On altitude. Is it psychological more than physical? - “Is there a level of physicality to it? Yes. No question. You go to the altitude and you walk up stairs and you realize you get winded a little quicker. However, psychologically is it a bigger deal? There’s no question in my mind. As I say every year, that is for me personally - many, many times playing at that altitude - it’s very psychological. But there is something to it. You’ve got to fight through it.”

How do you deal with it? Watch guys’ minutes? Their look? - “Yeah. You kind of look. There’s some it doesn’t faze them at all. You try and point it out. Sometimes you can do more harm than good because you can make such a big deal of it, then they make a big deal of it. 

“I always use the example of going up to Laramie, Wyoming about 13 years ago and our guys walking up the ramp. They get up there and the sign says ‘Welcome to Laramie, altitude either 7 or 9,000 feet. How’s your oxygen?’ And right away one of our players said I feel a little dizzy immediately after he read the sign. It’s crazy how that works. So you try and talk about it and not letting that be a distraction.”

Can you win a game at this point without Fultz having a big game? - “No. If Markelle’s the only one scoring, yeah. But if we come together and we have a number of contributions, that doesn’t mean everybody has to score. It just means we’re playing good basketball as a team. He does not have to be Superman. But we all have to be on the same page on the same night.”

On the strength of the Metro League - “I don’t know how much I can comment on it. I know I can’t comment on individuals, but high, high level. It’s been shown there’s a couple teams that can compete with anyone in the country in that league. Year-in and year-out we always have a few teams that can represent Seattle and the state of Washington on a national basis.”

How strange has it been to see your defense the way it’s been this year considering your best teams all played great defense? - “It’s difficult everything you do is predicated on your defense providing something for you, providing a service for you, so to speak. If that isn’t happening, it puts a lot of pressure in every other area for you to be almost perfect. When we’re playing defense the way we’re supposed to be playing defense, you can have some margin for error in some other areas because the defense can cover for it. But if we’re not playing that then it puts a strain on every other area. It makes it tough.”

So going back to your trademark man-to-man, full court pressure Husky Defense - does this team just not fit that mold? - “We thought it did early on but I don’t think it does. This same team a little bit later with some more experience would be closer to being able to do that. But at this stage with this team how we are, it’s just harder for this group to do it.”

So it just boils down to experience? - “I would say half of it would be experience. A couple other would be some other factors.”

Is this the trip you get Malik back? - “I don’t think Malik will play on this trip. I don’t think so. But he’s getting closer.”

On Carlos Johnson and did you see the response you needed to see from him? - “It’s been addressed. You go through a season there’s so many things that come up within a season. It’s no different than your household, the things that come up. If it was a reality show and we hung out at any one of your houses and things come up and you deal with them.”

So he’s available Thursday? - “Oh yeah.”

What was your impression of (Bitumba) Baruti the last game? - “I thought he did a fine job. I think that was his first opportunity for meaningful minutes and I don’t think he hurt himself.” Top Stories