Dawgbytes - Lorenzo Romar

It's year three in Lorenzo Romar's tenure as head basketball coach at the University of Washington and the steam engine formerly known as Husky hoops has now turned into a four-liter V6 going full-throttle down the road to that little town called Bracketville. And to top it off he just landed his top recruit for the class of 2004, albeit a bit late.

"We think he might be able to help," Lorenzo told Dawgman.com with a little bit of a smile when asked about Nate Robinson coming back for his junior year at Montlake. The 5-8 guard recently took his name out of the 2004 NBA draft after coming out of the Chicago pre-draft camp as the top guard in attendance.

But it's another recruit - Joel Smith - that Romar wants to unleash on an unsuspecting Pac-10 this winter.

"Joel is a phenomenal athlete, really impressive," Lorenzo said of Joel, a 6-5 swing man who played his senior year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. "He works hard on the floor. He is a team guy who is very charismatic on the floor. You watch him and you can tell he's giving his all, like Bobby (Jones)."

Should Washington fans expect Smith to be the next B.J.? "No, they are different players but he (Joel) will bring a lot of energy. He's clappin' on good plays, he's the first guy to help someone up. He's just like that. He is an excitable player, a slasher. Definitely a slasher."

On top of Smith, both Ryan Appleby and Zach Johnson will redshirt, lending to the idea that Romar and company are starting to 'reload' their talent stockpile, instead of merely rebuilding.

But Lorenzo's top recruit this year just might be the one that never makes a layin, blocks a shot or hits a clutch three. Jim Shaw, former assistant to Romar at Saint Louis, decided to return to his home state after a five-year stint at Oklahoma.

"Jim's a guy that comes and stays at your house for a week, and by the time he leaves he's rearranged your furniture and has shown you a new way to do your checkbook and pay your bills," Romar said of reuniting with Shaw. "When he leaves, it's like, 'Dog gone, I'm not used to having him around, I miss what he was bringing'. He's just very energetic and a consumate worker. He's very creative and knows what he's doing. There's not a lot of trial and error with him because it's been tried and tested. He brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff."

Now that the staff and roster is complete, it's time to get to work. "Most of our guys will be improved," said Romar. "Brandon Roy and Tre Simmons sure look like they have improved already in our spring workouts. Bobby Jones as well. I see improvement in a lot of guys."

One player in dire need of off-season strength and conditioning boost is freshman Hans Gasser, a 6-10 forward from Issaquah. "He's already put on 10 pounds and he's got two more months to go, three months before school starts," Romar said of Hans. "I think he'll put on another 5-10 pounds before school starts. His major weakness is his weakness."

There's nothing weak about the support Lorenzo has seen from Washington basketball fans, and he expects that support to go through the roof. "I thought that when we were 10-17 the year before there was already some excitement at the end of the year," he said. "That was great, considering we hadn't won or made the Pac-10 tournament. But now, with Nate's announcement to come back, I sense a high, high level of excitement around our team."

And in 2004 there are no beginning-of-the-year patsies that might be beneficial in padding Washington's win-loss record. Romar is grooming this team with the Big Dance in mind so the team will hit the ground running in Anchorage, Alaska, site of the Carrs-Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.

Utah, with former Eastern Washington coach (and UW assistant) Ray Giacoletti, will also be at the Shootout, along with Oklahoma, Shaw's old team, and others.

"We used to work together at UCLA with Mark Gottfried at Alabama, so there are a few teams we have ties to," Romar said of the Shootout field.

With school starting in September and the season starting just a month-and-a-half later, Romar knows that he can't take a breath. "We are just going one-hundred miles per hour with this program, so we might get a few days off in August, but that hasn't been the case so far," he said.

Lorenzo Romar Scout Profile

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