But when asked what he was most concerned about coming out of the 84-54 drubbing at the hands of the ‘Cats, Romar was quick to respond. "Our inability to compete at our highest level. I thought we would compete much harder."
One team was riding high on a three-game win streak; the other was just two games removed from their head coach's worst home loss during his tenure. The stage was set, but nothing could have foretold the butt-kicking that ensued.
The numbers are gruesome; worst margin of loss in over four years, out-rebounded by 17 for a team that usually out-rebounds opponents by nearly 10 a game; nearly 20 percentage points difference in shooting percentage … I could go on.
The Huskies biggest offensive run of the night? Six points – all by sophomore center Artem Wallace – when the ‘Cats were already up 28 points. Their next best run? Five – the first five points UW scored, to be exact.
"It's hard to get any runs going when you aren't getting stops," UW forward Jon Brockman said. "The best we did was trading baskets. That's the moral of the story."
Romar was quick to praise Wallace, who led the Huskies in scoring, as well as the No. 1 intangible in college basketball – hustle. "He was not mistake-free, but he worked his tail off," Romar said of Wallace. "That's all you can ever ask. If you work hard and compete and shoot 3-20, OK. But it starts with competing. And I was very proud of Artem today."
"Effort is something that we control every game," Wallace added. "Sometimes we don't have it as a team. If we play hard we will be successful."
For the other nine Washington players that did play, it looks like some soul-searching is in order. "Based on what we did at shootaround, at practice yesterday, what we put on the board, what we talked about last night – to carry it out … it just didn't happen," Romar said. "And when it started to get away, you could see it coming a little bit because we just didn't concentrate."
Ask Justin Dentmon, and he felt like Washington didn't follow up on any of the key aspects of shutting down an Arizona team that's capable of putting up triple digits. "Getting back on defense, stopping their transition offense, box out and locate the shooters," he said, listing them off like he was at the grocery store.
"We didn't do that."
"We knew they were capable of shooting, so the trick was to make sure they didn't get open looks early to gain confidence," Romar added. "That was the plan, but that was not executed. They did get open looks.
And converslely? "We settled for the three too often," he continued. "We were in too much of a hurry. They packed it in on us and we fell for the bait. We didn't get them in foul trouble at all."
Now the biggest question remains – just what is this team going to do from here on out? With games against five ranked opponents still left on the docket, Romar knows it's back to the drawing board. "No doubt," he said with emphasis. "This is a step back.
"We took a huge step back," Brockman added. "There was no effort. And all the things we talked about doing, we didn't do any of it. And if you don't follow your game plan, things probably aren't going to go very well for you."
With their backs up against the wall, the Huskies (14-8, 4-7) will have to come up with some more magic like they did after getting blown out by Washington State. After that game, they won three straight. And with the next three games all at home, this stretch is now incredibly crucial to any NCAA hopes Washington might still have.
"We don't have to win every game to achieve our goal," Romar reiterated on Saturday. But time is running out.
"We can only go up," added Brockman. "And we've said that a bunch. It's not like we are going to quit, though. We'll keep playing and try to get better each day. We're a very capable team, and that's what makes it so frustrating. Shoulda, woulda, could'ves.
"It's tough to deal with."
Huskies agree to non-compete?
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