"At St. Louis, I had no windows," said Romar, who left that program to become the new Head Coach at Washington. Before that stint he also spent three years in Malibu coaching the Pepperdine Waves.
"The view at Pepperdine, well, you can't beat it. It was the ocean. But the thing I like best about the view from my new office is that it is of the University of Washington. Just seeing the UW campus and that I'm working here, that is a better view than the ocean."
After graduating 20 years ago, he now returns to his Alma Mater after a rather interesting coaching search by Husky Athletic Director Barbara Hedges.
"When I first met with Barbara, it was both of us just sort of feeling each other out," recalls Romar. "I was just trying to figure out how much interest there was, and I think she was just trying to do the same thing."
Romar mostly listened to Hedges during that first interview, where he was not offered the job. Much publicized interviews with Gonzaga's Mark Few, Minnesota's Dan Monson, and Missouri's Quin Snyder took place. All the while Romar kept a fairly low profile.
"When Washington made contact, I wasn't offered the job so there still wasn't any reason to bring it up. Then when I realized that there was interest, I really started thinking about what might happen," said Romar.
"I didn't know if she'd offer me the job or not at first. When she did offer, I thought, ‘Wow. What do I do now?' I had a lot to think about. I was very loyal to Saint Louis and I was torn because deep down I knew I needed to come to Washington."
In the end, Romar made the decision he felt was best for his future. He called a press conference at the University of Saint Louis so he could explain his actions personally.
"I held a press conference at Saint Louis because our players had gotten wind of it. When the offer came and I took it, I wanted to make sure that our people in Saint Louis heard about it from me first and not from someone else," said Romar.
"It was emotional and hard for me to keep the tears back when I met with our players to tell them that I was leaving. It felt hypocritical on my part because for some of those players, we weren't going to be there for their senior years. I felt in one way that I was turning my back on them, but in another, I knew that this next decision was going to have a big impact on my life."
So the man that had earned the Huskies Most Inspirational Player award for 1981 under legendary Husky Coach Marv Harshman was returning to Seattle to fill his mentor's old job.
"It didn't hit home until the press conference in Seattle. I knew it was the right thing to do, to accept the job, but I didn't know if I could do it or not. I wasn't sure I could leave," said Romar. "It didn't sink in until I got here until I was waiting in the corridor in Hec-Ed and Barbara asked, ‘Are you ready?'"
"We walked in and I just expected a podium on the floor, but then the band was there, the cheer leaders were there, there were t-shirts and the scoreboard said ‘Romar returns', and it became overwhelming. Then it sank in that this is special."
Lorenzo has built a coaching staff that he is very pleased with. He has hired former Seattle Pacific Head Coach Ken Bone to be his Associate Head Coach while Cameron Dollar and Russ Shoene will be the other assistant coaches.
"Cameron Dollar will work with our defense. He did a remarkable job at Saint Louis with the defense and the guards. He is obviously a great recruiter as well. He'll be a great head coach one day, he's only 26 years old but you'd never know it by the way he conducts himself on the practice floor," said Romar.
"Ken Bone is a special hire because he is so connected here in the northwest. Trust is very important in our business and there aren't many people around this area that don't trust Ken Bone. He'll be able to help us very quickly. He has head coaching experience and he knows how to run a program. He'll be invaluable to our program."
The hiring of a former Seattle Supersonic to fill the final spot was a bit of a surprise but Romar believes that Washington's big men will benefit enormously. "Russ Shoene has played at the highest level of competition, and did it at the post position. He will be unique in that he can look another big man in the eye and tell them, ‘This is what worked for me and this is what I've learned.'"
Romar also welcomes Lance LaVetter as his Director of Basketball Operations, the person that does just about anything the coach requires to keep the program functioning as he wants it.
"Lance LaVetter came to us from Saint Louis and he understands me and how our program will work. He'll be the glue," said Romar.
End of part I.
Link to part II of this article
Lorenzo Romar Part I
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