A Conversation With Cohen, Part 4

Now that Jennifer Cohen has been Washington’s Athletic Director for a year, we decided it was a good time to catch up with her on a range of issues to get her thoughts and opinions. Over the course of this week we will get Cohen’s take on everything from the AD budget to taking Kelsey Plum shopping. Today we talk about the men’s and women’s basketball programs, all the changes that have taken place in the past few months and her take on Lorenzo Romar now coaching at Arizona.  

With Mike Neighbors leaving, you've got a million bucks coming...

“We haven’t gotten it yet. We’re supposed to. We’re waiting on that. Jody (Wynn) is doing awesome. It’s funny. She’s got a lot of value alignment. Both Coach Hopkins and Jody Wynn have values and structures around their programs similar to Coach Pete. Jody and Coach Pete and I were down in Portland last week meeting, we had a great turnout with Oregon Huskies. Chris was great. It was awesome, but Jody’s similarities on how to organize her program and discipline in her program and accountability in her program - they are just so aligned, so alike. I think that’s going to take some work for her here because her style and Mike’s style are so very different. But I think she’s a great fit for us and Mike did a great job too. But she’s going to build this thing with a lot of hard work and a lot of detail and a lot of focus, which is exactly what you need. If you’re Huskies, that’s exactly the kind of approach we need to be successful in every single one of our sports.”

How comfortable are you with Coach Hopkins and the Men’s program right now?

“First of all, I wish Lorenzo (Romar) well. You know how challenging that was. Anybody that has put that much time into this place, and we have a lot of beautiful memories…obviously the best memories I have about Husky Basketball included Lorenzo Romar, so that never goes away. But sometimes change is the only thing you can do and I felt so confident in that decision and supported in the decision to make a change.

“Hop literally feels like he’s always been here. He feels like a Northwest guy. I was over in the gym the other day two days ago and the environment just feels so good. It’s very tight-knit, it’s very family-oriented. His kids were in there and every player came over and hugged his wife and hugged all the kids and came over and gave me a hug…I think the guys are feeling a level of somebody investing a level of caring about them - and that’s not taking away anything that was happening before, but just a resurgence of confidence in themselves. 

“Part of that is how hard they are working. I don’t know if you’ve seen Noah (Dickerson), he looks amazing. All of them, their bodies are changing so their strength and conditioning programs have been more rigorous. Coach Hop is in there for all the workouts. You saw his broken nose. His motor is really high, his energy is really high and he believes so deeply in these kids and what they are capable of. I just think it’s giving them an infusion of energy, of believing they can do it. I think the skill development has been really good. And the coaching staff is off the charts. 

“You have Cameron (Dollar), you have Will (Conroy), you have (Dave) Rice. Everybody but Will, I think, has won a national championship as a coach or player on the staff. A lot of coaching experience between Cam and Dave. And Will has so much heart. He’s been so loyal and so passionate with pride and an expectation. Those guys are tough too. Cam and Will are tough. Hop needs that. He needs those type of people around him. He’s a players’ coach as far as being right there with them too, but we need to have a couple bad cops on our staff and we’ve definitely got them now. Which one do you pick from? (laughs) And Dave is really interesting and really smart too. They are all so talented. 

“I love Hop because he has no ego. He knew where his weak spots were and he brought people in to help support that. If you’re in my chair, that’s such a good sign.”

Sounds like Will’s been let off the chain a bit...

“He’s been unleashed, right? He’s been chomping at the bit. He’s a great coach, he’s got a ton of potential. That’s the other thing, we want to develop everybody that’s here. Our whole motto here at Husky Athletics is we want to get better every day. Some schools say we’re just here to win or whatever - you just can’t set yourself up for that kind of failure. Some days you’re going to win and some days you’re going to lose, but you’re just going to have to get better. We want people who want to get better every day. The coaches, assistant coaches they can groom so they can be head coaches someday if that’s what they want. The student-athletes, that’s on us, every staff member. We want our fans and donors and supporters to have that mindset too. How can we get better today?”

Thoughts on Lorenzo Romar to Arizona?

“Lorenzo has been doing this a long time. If that was the next-best step for him, then you have to support that. I can’t really comment on where it would be appropriate to take his next job.”

A Conversation With Cohen, Part 3

A Conversation With Cohen, Part 2

A Conversation With Cohen, Part 1

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