Romar ready to go

It's only October, but it's time to think Husky hoops. Thoughts of big-time games, a ranked team and a rabid fan base? Those are thoughts that typically came to mind when you talk about Washington football, but that has all changed with the recent success of the roundball squad. Head coach Lorenzo Romar sat down with the media this week and gave his thoughts on the upcoming season, some of his new players and the state of the Washington basketball program.

"We are very excited to get started," said Romar. "We're very excited because we get to be together again. We've got some new faces that are going to be out on the floor this year. We're looking forward to getting those guys acclimated and having an opportunity to be out on the floor with them."

Romar, his staff and the players are heading down to Olympia to work out of Evergreen State College for the third straight season and Romar said it's a chance for the team to get away from everything and concentrate on their jobs.

"It started out the first time we had done that before the first year here," Romar said. "We just felt like there were so many things we had to go over so many adjustments that we felt we did not want any distractions all and that's why we got away.

"Since that time, we've found that it's been pretty good and good team building created a good bonding effect. We're able to be with just us, with this family and we're able to concentrate."

Following the best season in UW history, one that saw the Huskies win the Pac-10 tournament, wrap up their first ever number-one seed in the tournament and a sweet sixteen bid, the Husky basketball team will look demonstrably different from the squad that took the floor last year.

"It's a brand new year," said Romar, responding to questions on how last season will effect how this team deals with success. "I don't think we look to top last year. I think we go out and do our best to be the best this team can be. Whatever that is…we're not sure yet. I don't think we're going to try and compare this team to what we did last year."

Losing team leaders like Nate Robinson, Will Conroy and Tre Simmons will be tough for the Dawgs, but Romar said he's confident the remaining players will step into those leadership roles.

"We're going to depend a lot on our seniors," Romar said. "The guys that have been here need to help our young people to get acclimated to our system and our concepts. We're going to depend, as coaches, on the leadership to help those young guys."

Two players that will be in leadership roles will be returning seniors Brandon Roy and Bobby Jones.

"Those guys have proven themselves over a three-year period," Romar said in regards to who the possible starters will be. "They've helped win a lot of ballgames for us. They've made major contributions to our success and I would say, going in, those guys are front-runners to be starters.

"The day that Brandon Roy walked onto this campus as a freshman in January, everyone on that team respected him from day one as a talent. I think now guys are starting to respect him more as a worker and a leader and he and Bobby Jones are our co-captains this year.

"Bobby is one who, when he was a freshman, I thought, ‘One day he's going to be our captain,' and sure enough he is."

One way to gauge the success of a program is how they are able to recruit, and more precisely, who those players turned down to commit to Washington. Recently, Romar and has staff pulled in's 16th rated class in the entire country, including two top 100 players (Martell Webster and Jon Brockman).

Romar was quick to give credit to former Huskies coach Bob Bender for recruiting the foundation.

"When coach Bender was here that was the beginning of it," Romar said of the surge in recruiting talent. "When Brandon Roy, Erroll Knight, Mike Jensen… when Doug Wrenn came back from UConn and decided to be here, I don't think any of those guys were McDonald's All-Americans, but they were or could have been as talented as some of them and played the same type of game. That started to get people's attention I think.

"What didn't happen with it were the wins. I think if those teams had won we would have seen this happen earlier. I think coach Bender and his staff were able to get this going a little bit and we were able to come in and able to capitalize on what was already here and add a little bit to it.

"The team grew together and we began to win and I think that's when we were able to draw guys like Jon Brockman or Martell Webster. If we had not won I know for a fact we would not have gotten a commitment from Martell Webster. We may have still gotten a commitment from Jon, but it would have been a coin-flip.

"Success has not only allowed us to be a player in these kinds of situations, but in some cases get those guys to come here."

Brockman, forward Artem Wallace and center Joe Wolfinger add a dimension to the Husky lineup that hasn't been around since Todd McCollough and Patrick Femerling were roaming the floor for the Huskies in the late 90's.

"When I was an assistant at UCLA we tried every year to get a Jon Brockman and we were never able to do that," Romar said of the 6-foot-8, 250-pounder from Snohomish. "What I mean by that is a guy who number one is very gifted as a basketball player. He's very strong, he has a nose for the ball and he's one of the best rebounders around. It wouldn't surprise us if he led our team in rebounding as a freshman.

"He's just got a knack for making big plays, but he approaches the game as if he doesn't have a scholarship. He's old school. He's not as we call it, ‘pimped out'. He's not expecting anything. He's going out to earn anything he gets out on the floor.

"Jon Brockman is talented as a basketball player, but he approaches every drill as if it's his last, and to add to that he's an unbelievable teammate. I don't think you'll find one guy on our team that, as long as Jon Brockman's here, will ever be upset with him except the guy who's trying to box him out in practice."

Wallace is another player that Romar is intrigued by and he says he's ready to see what the big-man from Toledo, Washington can do.

"Artem Wallace is, surprisingly, one of the best athletes on our team," Romar noted. "He has really soft hands around the basket and he can score with his right or left hand. He's another physical banger who does not mind mixing it up. We've got more physical guys on the inside than we've had since we've been here.

"Artem also won our mile. He ran a 5:07 mile and at 6-8, 240 pounds that's really moving."

And with that, Romar said, "Take it easy", to those in attendance, knowing full well that he and his team will be doing the exact opposite for the better part of the next six months.

The Huskies begin practicing this Friday and the team will take the floor for the first time Sunday, November 16th when they play host to Morgan State. Top Stories