Dollar's Hoops Sense, Part Two

In part one of 'hoops sense', Washington assistant basketball coach Cameron Dollar talked about the history behind Lorenzo Romar's success and what it's going to take to move the basketball program beyond their 2003 accomplishments. When Dollar talks about it, the formula seems simple, but the reality of taking that plan and putting it into place takes patience, time and trust.

The first step - embracing roles - wasn't going to happen until the players trusted the coaches and their vision for prosperity, but it didn't actually take hold until the wins started coming. "I think in some ways you could see it even before then (Oregon State)," Dollar told "I know we did as coaches. But when you're in the midst of losing, they don't see it. They may have seen a little bit of it, but you really don't believe it until you get the 'W'. And as a coach, the bottom line is, you've got to start getting w's, so you can get a little confidence going. I think it really did bring about a transformation. It helped our team grow and allowed them to do what they need to do.

Youth played a part in a slower transformation, but from now on Washington will not be considered a young team. They have withstood a 'trial by fire' and in Dollar's estimation they've come out stronger and more together from the experience. "Without question," he said. "Because at that point all you're doing is shoring up the areas you're weak in. And you've got to harp on them all the time. They need to understand how you're winning, why you're winning and what are you doing to put yourself in situations to be successful. It's still a work in progress, there's no question about it. But this can be a fun time if you stay focused on the goals at hand."

And the goals have certainly shifted. Going into the 2002-2003 season, Romar and Dollar expected the unexpected. They expected surprises on the road, as well as disappointments on the road. Undulations in the win-loss record was to be anticipated with a young, but talented group of players. "But we didn't see ourselves going 0-5 either," Cameron said. "But we did figure that it would be an up-and-down year. And we've had our ups and downs. Numbers-wise, the runoffs - I don't even look at 'em, to be honest with you. There are teams you think you should beat. There are also situations were you know it's going to be a tough one. Starting off the year at Cal and Stanford - Cal was a winnable game because they were just as young as us. That's the one we really look back on and thought we had a chance. At Stanford, they are an older, mature team. And we had just beaten them before, so we knew they weren't going to look at us as patsies. We knew that would be a tough one.

"And then coming home and playing USC and UCLA - you should be able to do something there. Beating USC last year we thought we should be able to get them again, and UCLA was much the same way, we couldn't finish. So some of those games we thought were winable but didn't get it done, but we still liked the progress of what we were doing."

When the hoops dawgs were on their season-ending roll, the coaches were still tinkering with things. Like inventors that haven't quite perfected the formula, coaches aren't satisfied with just a 'good' product. "If you are trying to build a championship machine, your eyes are always on the blueprint," said Dollar. "So in many ways, that's not 'riding the wave'. What that is is continuing to pick at and decipher and find out what are you weakest at, play to your strengths and eliminate your weaknesses. You have to continue to hone things. You got to stay away from that mentality where you have to get this one game. You have to handle stuff where you have that vision, but you don't want to lose that roll. You never want to stomp out that fire, but at the same time you have to keep that vision of where you want to go.

"We're hungry. We're not just hungry to get it turned around to just get a winning record and be exciting. We hungry to win championships. There's a whole other frontier we want to conquer. In our minds, this is a sweet step two, but it's still step two. We don't want to stop here. It gives us even more confidence and desire to take this thing as high as we can take it. We want to win conference championships here and national championships here."

Cameron Dollar Scout Profile

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