Romar Returns

With the Husky marching band playing "Bow Down To Washington" and forming a tunnel, new Husky Basketball Head Coach Lorenzo Romar walked through them and up to a podium to address the Seattle media for the first time. He was all smiles and once the band stopped playing, all he could do was shake his head and take a big sigh. He was home.

Barbara Hedges called Romar's homecoming "an exciting day for Husky athletics. When I was looking for the qualities in a head coach, I wanted a good coach, a good recruiter, a good person, someone who would stay here a long time, and someone that would have his finger on everything going on in the program. He had to have a strong academic commitment, someone who believes in the potential of the program, and someone that wanted to be here. Lorenzo Romar has all of those qualities."

Romar began by telling how fortunate he was to have played at the University of Washington. "A lot of kids would've loved to have had that opportunity. I was blessed. I never knew that I would ever be this fortunate," he said of getting the coaching position 21 years after he graduated from Washington.

"When I think of Husky basketball, I first think of Marv Harshman," said Romar of his former coach who was present at the press conference. "I remember him running those laps around the track going one mile per hour. I never dreamed that some day I'd be in this position that he held."

Romar, the 18th head basketball coach at Washington, has kept up with Husky basketball ever since he graduated in 1980. "I have a lot invested in this program. A lot of years. It won't happen in a day or two, but I believe we can win here."

When asked if there was any particular things that stood out in his decision to take the job, Romar answered, "It's my alma mater. You don't have to go any further than that. I'm a little overwhelmed by all of this, it's very exciting. I'm trying to remain calm," he said with a grin.

Romar addressed his team just before the press conference in the locker room and spoke to them about what he felt was important to his program: leadership and academics. Romar's first meeting tomorrow will be with the academic advisory council.

"One ingredient that all great teams have is leadership. Not teams that occasionally win upset games, but those teams that win on a consistent basis. Those teams all require leadership and for them to buy into the team concept. That is what I'm going to bring to my team," said Romar.

Lorenzo brings a great recruiting reputation with him to Washington, having been Jim Harrick's top recruiter on his UCLA staff as well as doing some great talent building on his Saint Louis squad. "Recruiting is our life blood. We'll recruit heavy in the northwest, but we'll also hit California hard. We should be able to capitalize on the talent down there," said Romar of his recruiting strategy.

He'll have many more inroads to California prep talent since he prepped in Compton and earned his AA at Cerritos CC. He also coached at UCLA and Pepperdine, so most of the California prep circles are all aware of the popular new Husky coach.

Romar will attempt to bring all three of his staff from Saint Louis with him to Washington, but his top assistant, Brad Soderberg, stayed behind in Saint Louis to interview for the head coaching vacancy. If he doesn't get the job, he'll join Romar in Seattle. Also coming with Romar will be Cameron Dollar, a player he recruited to UCLA while he was an assistant there, and Lance LaVetter.

Thus ends a two-week coaching search that included five candidates. Romar has yet to sign his contract, as it is still being finalized, but it will be $700,000 base with $100,000 in incentives and the duration will be six years. In the end, former Coach Marv Harshman said the right guy was hired. Harshman came up to the podium and presented Romar with a t-shirt that read, "HUSKIES, and that's my final answer."

"When Lorenzo got into coaching, he told me that the job that he would like to finish with would be here at Washington. This is the best fit that I've seen at any school in a long time. If it's not, then you can all blame me," said Harshman.

Romar asked, "Even me, coach?"

Harshman's recruitment of Romar is a funny story. Washington was in California to scout who they felt was the top point guard at that time, Dean Jones. His game began at 9:00 so the Husky coaches arrived in time to see the 7:00 game as well. Harshman heard the starting lineups announced and loved what he heard. "The guy eloquently said, ‘Loorrrrrenzo Rooomarrrr," and I said, ‘I've got to recruit that guy. We don't have anyone with a name like that.'"

Now the Huskies have him back and they hope for good.
Husky player reactions to Romar, whom some of them met for the first time today.

F Jeff Day: It was the first time I've had the chance to meet him. I don't really have any first impressions yet, I just want to get to know him. We're going into this with an open mind, but we're all very positive about it.

C Marlon Shelton: I have not met with him personally yet, but we met him as a team today. He seems great, very personal. He seems like he wants to get to know us before we get down to hoops. He stressed team unity, things like that. That is what he wants to concentrate on first. As a whole we haven't had a chance to talk about this as a team, things happened so fast. Once we do, we'll all realize that it's a positive. The vibe in the locker room is both nervous and excitement at the same time. This is my final season so I'm very excited. I have no time to set small goals for myself. I want to get to the final four and if Romar is the guy, then by all means I'll be there. It's a great thing for the African American community and I think he'll take full advantage of it."

G Curtis Allen: I'm really excited. It's a good fit for us. I think he'll give us the discipline we need because we have so much talent, we just have to put it together. I think he'll do that. In the one conversation we've had with him, you can tell that he's very committed to us and to get this started. I'm definitely excited, to have someone as pumped up as he is about it.

F Mike Jensen: I think he's cool. I was recruited by Saint Louis. In the locker room it sounds like he's got everything all laid out. I'm excited to see what he's got in store for us. I just started hitting the weights hard a couple of weeks ago so I won't get injured again. I want to help this team. I'm just excited and I'm ready to go RIGHT NOW. Hopefully I'll play the four (power forward) but with a new staff, anything is possible. I just want to play and help this team.

F Doug Wrenn: I owe a lot to Barbara Hedges and the University of Washington. My heart is here at the UW. Ms. Hedges gave me a chance when everyone was saying and writing bad things about me. Bob Bender also gave me that chance. I'll talk with Bob and I know he'll give me good advice. I also want to sit down with Lorenzo Romar and talk about this.

Wrenn said that he knows that the NBA is a possibility and he is feeling some family pressure to enter the draft to help out financially, but he also knows that he could improve his stock greatly by staying at least another year. He says that he has not retained an agent and won't likely hire one so he can keep his options open. Top Stories