The State of the Huskies

Unlike the President of the United States, college basketball coaches don't have a yearly state of the union address to make. However, we here at Dawgman.com find it helpful to get an update from the head Dawg every now and then and Lorenzo Romar was able to sit down and give us some insight on subjects near and dear to his heart. The first thing he talked about was his promotion as the head coach of the U18 USA Basketball squad.

"It's funny because you just get this phone call," Romar said recalling how he was asked to coach the young USA basketballers. "A committee every year votes on which coaches they think will be the best fit for these teams and they call you and see if you're interested."

Even though he considers it a huge honor to be asked, Romar's heart still remains with the Washington basketball program so his answer wasn't yes right away.

"Well, I had to talk it over with my staff," Romar recalled. "We have camps going on at that time and some other things going on in terms of our program – we don't want to slight our program – so at other times this thing has gone on in the July period, when recruiting is going on so this is a better time to go on it and we just all agreed that this is too good of an opportunity to pass up.

"You are in a position to represent your country, in your country and coach some of the best talent in that age group in the world. You don't get those opportunities every day."

Romar will lead his squad into action June 28th – July 2nd and face off against Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Uruguay in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in San Antonio, Texas.

While there will be a few players on the squad that haven't signed letters of intent with a school, Romar said it could be a mixed blessing as far as recruiting goes.

"People have asked me about that," Romar said regarding his recruitment of players while he's coaching them for the next month. "I've asked (Syracuse head coach) Jim Boeheim, who is the chairperson of the committee (for the US team), and I asked him how it works and he said ‘Look, it can backfire on you too.'

"You're with a guy two weeks and if he doesn't like the way you coach, (Boeheim) said he had an experience where they were in on a guy and they were in on him pretty good and he had a bad experience and he went on somewhere else."

Romar has put the Washington program on the national map the past three years with three NCAA appearances including a number one seed in 2005 and a remarkable run this past March where the team narrowly lost to Connecticut in the round of 16.

One player responsible for that run was then-senior swingman Brandon Roy who has elevated his stock for the upcoming NBA Draft beyond what many thought, possibly even into the top 10 selections.

"To me Brandon, that last couple years of his career were a lot like, sometimes high school kids don't go out in the summer for whatever reason," Romar said. "They have summer school or they have an injury so the coaches don't get to see them and those scouting services don't get to see them and they're not really able to rank them because they haven't seen them in a while. Now they come back and play for their team and they go ‘Whoa where have they been?' and then all of the sudden their recruitment blows through the roof because people haven't seen them.

"Brandon was like that in this regard, because his junior year he was hurt. There were games he didn't play, he would come back and maybe there was a little swelling, and he wanted to be strong for the home stretch so we sat him out and then he came off the bench.

"The only reason he came of the bench was because we talked about that if he wasn't going to be back for sure at 100% that it wouldn't be good, probably, to start him and then not start him and then start him again and then the next game he didn't play so we decided that he would come off the bench and he played the games he could play. So for whatever reason he wasn't looked at as a starter and people said ‘Well how good could he be?'. That was a very inaccurate judgment because we know he's a fine player.

"He didn't go on any of the USA teams and no one really saw him. Then when we start out this past season we were winning games by 20-plus points per game and Brandon was distributing the basketball and he didn't have to take over. When he finally was healthy this year and was taking over then people got to see who Brandon Roy was, so that is how he fell through the cracks in my opinion, in terms of the national stage."

Defensive stalwart Bobby Jones has also had excellent workouts and may have increased his value to teams enough to be considered in the first round of the Draft.

"He was MVP of the NABC All-Star game and he did it in typical Bobby Jones fashion – eight points and nine rebounds – and just came up with every loose ball and made every play down the stretch and that's why they voted him MVP," Romar said.

"I don't think anyone can say what Bobby's status is right now other than that he's impressed people and that people are interested and they're going to bring him in to work him out and he's going to be in Orlando at the pre-draft camp and at this point he can make a big, big statement."

Two other players who will graduate this spring are Mike Jensen and Jamaal Williams and both are considering moves to Europe to continue their playing days.

"I know Mike is trying to get something overseas – there's some interest there – and I know Jamaal is trying to get into an NBA camp and if he can't work that out he's going to try and get overseas as well," Romar said.

With those players having moved on, the Husky program will welcome four new players this year from one of the top rated classes in the country –C Spencer Hawes, F Quincy Pondexter, PG Adrian Oliver and F Phil Nelson – but Romar and his staff are also looking to players currently on the roster for contributions and two of those are G Harvey Perry and C Joe Wolfinger.

"Harvey has been doing everything everyone else is doing," Romar said. "He's been strengthening his back and he's been cleared. He's been doing fine physically.

"Joe got the ‘Industrial award' for the hardest worker on our team as a redshirt, which is very impressive. He doesn't know how to go about his business in any other way than to work very hard and it's paying off for him. He has come a long way from last year to now. He's by far our most improved player."

Finally, no conversation about Husky basketball can end without talking about one of the best players to come out of the program in years – current New York Kicks guard Nate Robinson.

"It's amazing that people never gave Nate a chance to play in the NBA," Romar said with a chuckle. "Now he's in the NBA and they're talking about highs and lows. According to a lot of people he shouldn't have anything but lows, but when you're a rookie you have highs and lows. His highs are pretty good.

"When you score 32 points in an NBA game or you hit a shot at the buzzer to win an NBA game that's pretty good. You're going to have lows, but he had some pretty impressive highs."

** Romar and staff have camp coming up during June and those interested in attending can call (206) 543-8070 and ask for Jamee Ashburn or Lance LaVetter for more information.


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