Wooden win a meaningful one for Romar

Sure there was some trepidation going on the road, but it had to happen sometime. So Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies headed south to Arrowhead Pond to play New Mexico in the John Wooden Classic. How would they respond on the road? How would the freshmen play in their first road test? Here's what they all had to say after the 81-71 win over the Lobos.

"Well that was a great outcome," Romar said after the game. "We were able to come out on top, but prior to that final horn going off, obviously we made a lot of mistakes…We have to give a lot of credit to New Mexico. The way they played. They took a lot of our strengths away today. They did a good job. We tried to force it a bit too much and allowed them to come back into the game.

"But, even though we had a lead at halftime, we probably forced it too much in the first half as well. But the difference was in the second half, they did a better job of converting. We didn't do a good enough job of stopping them in the second half. For us, this is a great game because we played against a team that was a matter of the wills. We like to play to play up tempo, they like to slow it down much more.

"So, it was a good experience for us because half the teams in the Pac-10 like to slow the ball down as well. And I think it will help prepare us for conference, that's why you play non-conference games, to improve upon your weaknesses and identify your weaknesses."

The Huskies went to a zone in their previous game, against Gonzaga. It was something Romar said they needed to do, just because the coaches knew it would come in handy down the road. Talk about being prophets. With the Lobos charging in the second half, the UW 2-3 zone slowed them down and forced New Mexico to win the game from outside. They couldn't.

"The zone really helped us tonight," said Romar. "We went to the zone, one we were in foul trouble, secondly we wanted to try to take them out of some type of offensive rhythm because they were scoring at will. I think they scored 28 points in the first eight minutes. You contrast that by they scored 2 in the first twelve minutes of the first half. For whatever reason, we did not play with the same energy that we've been playing with for the other seven games. The zone allowed the game to somewhat get slowed down even more so. We were able to regain our bearings and get them to miss some shots. And, I think that it may have made the difference in the outcome of the game."

But it doesn't mean Romar is pleased at all about that drop in intensity. "Well let's hope that this is an aberration," he said. "Let's hope this isn't a pattern at all. This was the first game that for probably about thirty-five minutes, we were playing like we were in the mud. And, for about a five minute stretch in the second half we got after it. We got after it defensively in the first half, but offensively we were kind of off. I would like to think and certainly hope this won't be a pattern for us because we usually play with a lot of intensity."

One player that looked like he was stuck in the mud was freshman forward Jon Brockman. Brockman, who was the MVP of the Black Coaches Association tournament in the first three games of his career, looked like he could do no wrong. Well, in his first road trip, he struggled mightily on the offensive end, but was picked up by the play of junior Hans Gasser, whose six quick second-half points gave Washington an eight-point bump that New Mexico would never recover from.

"Well, Jon Brockman has been so good for us this year," said Romar. And you wonder, does a guy like that, as a freshman, go 30 games and always have good games. You know, today, he didn't have his best game, and that's what team is all about. Hans stepped in and did a very nice job for us. He scored six points in the second half, when we really needed them, but also pulled down five rebounds and defensively did a pretty good job for us. So again, that's what team is all about. You take the best players in the world, their not going to come out every night and give you an outstanding performance.

"When they don't, you need the teammates to be able pick up the slack, and that's what Hans was able to do."


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