A few minutes with Lorenzo Romar

‘Good news' and ‘Montlake' have not been found in the same sentence of late. Huskies fans these days have been looking for anything and everything that will give them encouragement in all that is purple and gold. Look no further than to the building that sits right next to Husky Stadium. Practices for the upcoming college basketball season have begun, and you can count on last year's excitement returning to Bank of America Arena in less than a month.

Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar summed up his expectations for the upcoming season with a perfect analogy:

"If you break into someone's house one time and get away with it, the next time they're going to be waiting with a shotgun. It's not going to be as easy as the last time," Romar told Dawgman.com.

‘Breaking into someone's house' is the perfect metaphor for what the Huskies did to the unsuspecting Pac-10 neighborhood during the 2003-2004 season, going 19-12 and surprising everyone (and maybe themselves) with the amount of success they found later in the season. Washington swept perennial powerhouse Arizona in not two, but three games. They were the only team to beat Stanford in the regular season. All of those accolades, and the fact that they have virtually the same team coming back, has given the Huskies strong pre-season mention in the local, regional and even national press.

"No question we feel good about the way we're headed, but are we at a point where we can rest until we've arrived? We're not ever close," said Romar. "We've got a long way to go to get our program to where we would like it to be and for our guys to rise to their potential as a team.

"We want to be a team where every year, there is a chance we can win the national championship. We may not win it, but we want to be a contender every year and that's not going to happen overnight."

Romar said that he feels the team got hungry over the off-season and spent their time working to get better.

"Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones, Hakeem Rollins have come back bigger and stronger," he said. "Believe it or not, Nate (Robinson) has improved. He's shooting the ball extremely well right now. He's confident, not like he hasn't been confident before, but right now it's just at a higher level. You just look at Brandon Roy right now and he looks different. He looks stronger. He is a stronger basketball player."

But in the bigger picture, Romar senses and sees much more coming from the team, something that cannot be measured by scoreboards or scales.

"What we have seen is that there is a culture here that has been established," said Romar. "Guys know the way we do it here in the Husky program. Guys have bought in to the way of life that is Husky basketball."

A newcomer to the team is somebody who really isn't one. Jamaal Williams, a transfer from New Mexico. Williams is eligible this season after sitting out the previous year red-shirting per NCAA transfer rules. His presence will certainly make up for the departure of Anthony Washington, who announced he will transfer to Portland State after the academic quarter.

"Even though he's 6-5, he's arguably our best low-post scorer right now and he was last year," said Romar of Williams. "He played (the role of) Ike Diogu and Leon Powe on scout team and we had a more difficult time with him than in practice. He brings some experience. He's played two years of college basketball and he plays with a lot of confidence. He's strong, fearless, and he's aggressive."

The excitement and hype that has surrounded Washington basketball has brought expectations that one would not have anticipated just one year ago. As a player, Romar played on a Washington team that found fair success as an NIT selection in 1980, but clearly times have changed and there are different dynamics in place.

"It's a little different as a coach," said Romar. "You just know, having been through this before, things are not going to be easy. We are going to have to bust our tail. We're going to have to stay injury free; the ball is going to have to bounce our way a few times to win close games. It's going to be a tough year for us. Our guys are excited and they can't wait to complete what we started last year, but we're going to have to be prepared or good things won't happen."

Even though the Huskies were able to stay relatively injury-free last year, Romar said that he feels depth will always be a problem with any team. The Huskies lost Washington and Curtis Allen, and gained Williams and true freshman Joel Smith. Matt Fletcher, another player with size, is also eligible this season after walking on last season. Zach Johnson and Ryan Appleby will be red-shirting this season.

"I've been in situations where you have one or two key injuries and all of a sudden, we've lost four or five games that we would have won if we had those players," said Romar, regarding depth. "Look at football right now. We only got 13 guys on scholarship. That can change your season. You have to make sure you avoid injuries to key players."

The Huskies will stage their first exhibition game on Tuesday, November 9th against Westmont College at Bank of America Arena.

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