Dawg Blog - Hoops Media Day

We decided to run a quick blog on UW Men's hoops media day. So here's Lorenzo Romar's notes, as well as notes from the various players in attendence, and notes that we're hearing about as basketball gets going for another season.

Open Gym Notes:

This is coming from Kim - who watched open gym with Jon Martone.

Notes on open gym

Wolfinger looks back. Hitting threes. IT is taking over. Distributing more than shooting. Has an uncanny feel for the game. Don't usually see a freshman take over like that. Justin is playing like a senior guard, very under control. IT was able to find Brockman all the time. Jon is running the floor like a guard, beating his guy down to the spot on a regular basis. MBA is playing like a true power forward. He's very athletic. Venoy looked very good too. For the first time in three years they have three legitimate point guards, all guys that can distribute and can run the offense.

Darnell Gant and Tyreese Breshers haven't been cleared to play. Breshers was doing conditioning on the bike. Artem wasn't there.
Isaiah Thomas Notes

On three-guard lineup - It's going to be amazing. We're trying to get it back to when Nate, B-Roy, Will were here. They had a smaller lineup, but they were feisty. They got after it on offense and defense and that's what made them who they were. We're going to try to get that back.

On playing with those guys over the summer - They taught me all the ins and outs of college basketball. I'm family, so they criticized me a lot but they also helped me. I just take everything I can from them to build on my game. Will was the toughest on me, but they are only doing it to make me the best player I can possibly be. We worked out every day - me, Will Conroy, Jamal Crawford and Brandon Roy. Nate was always back in New York, but when he was here we worked out. They got me ready for the season. The level they are at, you just have to be strong - mentally and physically strong. Everybody has the talent, it's all about the mental game. They keep telling me I go too much to my left, but they haven't stopped me yet.

On talking to them about bringing UW hoops back - B-Roy and Will always talk to me about it. They want me to bring a winner's mentality and lead these guys. Brockman's been the leader the last 3-4 years, and coaches have asked me to be a leader, a vocal leader, someone different that people can lean on.

On holding back - The coaches tell me not to hold back, to play my game and to get as many wins as we can and to get the program back. I'm not going to defer; I'm going to do what's best for the team. Whatever Coach Romar and Coach Dollar and all them ask me to do, that's what I'll do. I'm going to do it and I'm going to get it done.

On the expectations - I like 'em. I'm doing something good to have those expectations. Would rather have that than the other way around.

On how he's different from his Curtis days - I'm more mature - as a person more than basketball. Being alone and being on my own away from home and friends and family, I've grown up so much more.

On Turner and Suggs - Elston can shoot lights out. He's like Appleby. When he's on it's hard to guard him. Suggs like a smooth B-Roy type. He'll come at you.

On people thinking he can't play defense - You'll see this season. See what you say afterward.

On wearing number 2 - MBA has number 11, and he wasn't giving it to me. I was talking to Nate one day and he told me I needed to bring it back. I thought of it as 1+1 = 2, so that was one of my excuses. And then Nate wanted me to wear it, so I thought it would be great to do it.

On getting to the NCAA's - That's all we've been talking about - that and winning Pac-10's. That's what we have to do.
Jon Brockman Notes

On the NCAA's - Missing it the last two years it's hard to watch because you're missing. The entire nation gets into it. It's such an amazing event and you only get four years to do it. My window is almost closed and I have to get back there.

On UW's reputation - People still think of it as a great program that has had it's ups and downs. We're getting it on track and people know that with the players we have, it's going to happen. Even over the last couple of years, we've had big wins and no one wants to come to Bank of America Arena. But we definitely want to get it back to when we had the back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances.

On transforming his body - Did all sorts of crazy workouts - like throwing rocks and logs and stuff - 'Rocky' workouts when he was with Joe Wolfinger in Alaska. Went fishing at a lodge in Ketchikan. Were rolling big steel buoys. Did a lot more jogging. Giving my ankle time to rest after the surgery allowed my body to fully recover. Now I can push through and not stop.

On strength coach Matt Ludwig - A lot more emphasis on team. Does a great job of doing everything as a team. Before you lift when you could, now everyone does it. He's put everyone on the same page and we'd push each other. Played game called the 'Man Maker'. Team competitions, like tug-of-war to help change things up and keep it interesting. It wasn't just the same thing every day.

On the summer of carnage - Broke Scott Suggs' nose, knocked Quincy's teeth back. Got MBA in the mouth. Got Elston too. It happens. Got Spencer (Hawes) a couple of times. Just the way I play. Our guys are good, they don't hold grudges. "It's just Brock. That's the way he plays." Haven't marked Isaiah off his list yet.

On what's different this year - Hard to describe. Lot of energy and excitement about the program and we're feeding off of it. Guys aren't thinking about themselves. What can I do for the team. With that mindset, spirits are in a different place. There's not as much pressure for each person, because they know the team is behind them. Just excited to see this team progress because they have the potential to do great things.

On the Pac-10 - Lot of talent left, but lot of talent decided to stick around. Lot more emphasis on team. Don't have to shut just one guy down.

On swagger - It's something we realize needs to change. You can be nice and play hard and be aggressive. Noses get broken and teeth get knocked out, but that doesn't make you a bad person. Have to come out with the mentality that we're a tougher team and they are going to be in for it all night. MBA, Breshers, Wolfinger, IT - they've all brought it. And it's rubbed off on the rest of the team. We're going to have a different look as the year goes on. Last year, lot of wide eyes. Weren't taking pride and weren't taking it personally out on the court. That's going to change. Guys know now that they are playing for something that's bigger than themselves.

On IT - It's going to open up a lot of things. He's a dangerous weapon, can do anything at any time. I'm just going to give him room and let him do his thing. He'll treat me right. He knows how to get the ball in the post.
Darnell Gant Notes

On season - I'm looking forward to playing this season with his particular team.

On what to expect - Expect me to play hard, to give it my all. That's all I want to do. Whatever it takes to win.

On feeding off the Dawgpack - Seeing how my teammates feed off of them, I know I will do. You have to feed the Dawgpack for you to feed off of them with steals, fast breaks, dunks, etc...

On traveling - Went to LSU, LA and Pullman. Wanted to experience what WSU would be like. I'm sure they hate us the most. I got a good idea of what to expect.

On his strength - My effort. I'm a down-low player. That's where I make my money at. But I'm a 6-8 forward that can shoot. I'm not one of the greatest shooters, but I can shoot it to 18 feet. I'm an emotional player. I feed on what's going on. If they are mad, I'm mad. I want to bring passion and fire to the team.

On games he's looking forward to - All of them.

On sitting out - It was tough. I wanted to help the team win. But in the long run it's going to pay off, and looking at the team now I'm happy with the decision I made. Had choice to get surgery now or later.

On playing this year - Hard to say when he's going to play because of the surgery, but should be ready for the first game. Didn't have to run the mile. Probably could have run it in 5:20

On sports hernia - Couldn't explain it, but sounds like groin/hip, there was no wall by the muscle, so they had to put mesh in there to heal up and make a wall.

On what he can do now - Ride the bike, stairmaster, shoot. Should be cleared Monday. Can gradually do more and more as the days go by.

On chemistry with IT - Definitely there. Isaiah is one of the reasons I came to UW, other than Romar. The way he was talking about the school, it really made me want to come. Kept in touch, and we'd talk about winning. We don't have to make eye contact, we just click. It's like that with a lot of my other teammates too.
Joe Wolfinger Notes

On fishing with Jon in Alaska over the summer - It was out in the ocean, but not too far out. The fishing was really good. Had more fun that I thought I would. He kissed a fish when he caught one.

On finally being healthy - I felt last year I was just getting back, and time was limited. I was overweight. Now I can go whole practices and I feel like I'm in better shape and quicker. I can rebound and play better defense now. 100 percent healthy, but I don't kill myself running. Didn't run the mile. I can go 100 percent in practice and play.

On it being his time - I definitely feel that way. Last year I didn't feel like I was at the top of my game. But now I'm where I was before I got hurt in terms of being in shape and not having my time limited. I'm very excited.
Justin Dentmon Notes

On his final year - It motivates me a lot. My senior year in high school was like that, not getting another chance.

On assessing his career - It's had ups and downs. Hit a wall, slowed down a little bit. All mental.

On physically reaching a balance - I'm in great shape. Fitness trainer has been working with us all individually. I feel lighter, alert and stronger.

On owning open gym and making the transition - It's like muscle memory. People have told me when I'm doing something wrong I should back and look at it when I was doing it right to get the muscle memory to do it right. I've been watching tapes of open gyms during the summer and using that. I'm more dedicated than I was. I have to help lead the team in the right direction.

On how the frosh are motivating him - They are motivating me to speak more and to also lead by example. Actions speak louder than words.

On sensing the excitement - Yeah, we're a lot closer, especially the older guys, off the court, and that should spill over onto the court. It's going to be a long journey. Just want to take every game one-by-one.

On NCAA's - That's the number-one goal. Got to get 20 wins. But that's our number-one goal. That's ours. We want to prove that we can get there.

On games he's looking forward to - Oklahoma State. That's the most I've ever lost by. We have to get that back.

On chemistry - Have it with Venoy Overton. We know where each other is going to be. They've been trying to give us the name 'Three Amigos', but I think it's been more of me and Venoy and Isaiah is slowly working in there. He's getting into the flow of it.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning Notes

On transitioning into his second year - I need to play with 100 percent energy all the time. My effectiveness is when I go 100 percent all the time instead of taking plays off and looking mediocre. Hopefully that will increase my productivity.

On working with Brockman - Just having a big man like that in the post will open things up. There's a lot of little things we do, like setting screens. Can also get offensive rebounds too. So many people are going to be focusing on him, that just opens it up for me and our other bigs to get things done.

On playing in Europe over the summer - Everyone tells me it's been a confidence booster and I've changed my game, but for myself when I've gone home I've always been one of the main guys on my team so it's nothing I wasn't already used to. It was like playing back in high school. But coming back here, you have to play to that ability all the time. It was about mid-major talent, like WCC. Not quite Pac-10 talent.

On playing with Isaiah Thomas - It was fun playing with him my senior year in high school (South Kent). Everybody knows what he can do as a scorer, but he's pretty unbelievable as a passer. The first time I played with him, he finished with around 9 assists a game. It shows he can pass the ball when he's got guys around him that can finish.

On their frontcourt - I haven't looked at each team, but the way we've worked together it's been great. Everyone knows what Jon can do, and all we're doing it trying to get to his level.
Quincy Pondexter Notes

On coming into this season and his potential - Worked really hard this summer, more than ever and he's looking forward to this season and winning. Shot a lot of jump shots and worked on his game with one of UW's managers this summer, and also worked with Coach Romar. Aren't there yet, but getting there.

On chemistry - We're really friendly, not quarrels, have a common goal in winning and we're looking forward to it.

On his role - We'll see when the season starts. Coach and I have it under top secret right now. You guys will see on November 6th (against Western Washington)

On improvement - I took time to develop my body so I'm more of a man. I've put on a solid 10 pounds and I'm looking forward to unleashing it.

On guys stepping up - I think all the team worked hard. You're going to see a lot of exciting basketball this year.

On prognostication - I think we still have some of the best players in the country in this conference. Harden, Budinger, the UCLA guys. I think it's underrated conference coming into this year. There's going to be a lot of exciting basketball. For our team, I envision a lot of good wins. There's opportunities for a lot of great wins this year. I hope it's going to be a great year.
Artem Wallace Notes

On getting back - It was my hope to get back by the time things started up, but you never know how a knee is going to behave. Glad things have worked out.

On his role - same as it's been. Play defense, get rebounds, help the team win.

On this team being the breakthrough team - There's a lot of good chemistry and we have a lot of young talented guys. Jon and Quincy are back and everyone worked hard in the off-season. We can be a successful team if we come together.

On still staying fit despite knee problems - couldn't run, so get on the bike for an hour, hour and a half a day to compensate. Try to keep weight down below a certain mark, so it was a conscious effort. Staying in shape and rehab was his focus this summer. Weight is 254. At start of the season was at 265. With knee, have to pay attention to what I eat, can't go to Jack in the Box every day. Will start to practice this weekend, 2-2, 3-3 drills. Trainer will be there to let him know what he can and can't do and go from there.
Justin Holiday Notes

On expectations - More of what you saw last year. You'll see a faster team, a lot of long arms and some highlights. Scott Suggs is a long player. We can block shots but we can dunk it too.

On going home to improve - Worked out alone and also with Darnell Gant and some people he knows. Jrue wasn't playing because of injury.

On brother Jrue Holiday - I know him better than anyone else. Never finished one-on-one games because we'd get into fights.

On hype of other players - I just come to play. Don't worry about the rest of it.
Tyreese Breshers Notes

On what to expect - Lot of rebounds, lot of blocked shots. I can score, but I love to block shots. I just love the feeling of taking a shot away from somebody.

On surgery - I'm ahead of schedule, so it's going pretty good right now. Right now jogging, short sprinting. In three weeks should be cleared to play. Just shooting jump shots right now. It sucks not being able to play. I hate sitting and watching, it's depressing to think about, but I don't want to hurt it and rush back in.

On redshirting - I'm working hard to play, it hasn't crossed my mind yet. But if it gets to a point where I'm not ready, I'll redshirt. But I plan on playing. Taking it one day at a time, not talking about it and don't want to talk about it.

On playing with Brockman - In high school didn't have a guy like him in our league, a guy that would try to muscle you and get you out of the post. It's a great experience because I have to get used to it. That's what's going to happen in this league and I like it.

On what he's most excited for - Winning. Winning in front of a packed house. Watching everyone watch us. But if I can give 100 percent, doesn't matter who is watching or who is there.

On fitting in - I think I fit in pretty good. They play the way I like to play. I think I can get in and contribute. We're like brothers. Jon is like an older brother to me.

On weight - He's at 257, in high school he was 265. He feels he plays better at this weight.

On playing with broken shin - It was painful, but I didn't want to sit out my senior year. I had worked hard to be the captain of my team, and now that I had the chance to lead I wasn't going to sit out.

On meeting some of the older Dawgs, like Brandon Roy - Will (Conroy) gave me advice because he had the same surgery I had. He told me to just get through it. And Darnell, he gave me a lot of good advice.

Self-scouting report - Lot of rebounding, lot of blocked shots. Just working hard.
Scott Suggs Notes:

On Isaiah Thomas - He's goofy, but that's most of our team too. I think that's why we get along.

On coming to Washington - Had a relationship with Romar. Got introduced through a family friend when he was 10 and they played 1-1. "The only thing I remember is that I got beat by some old guy." (laughs) Talked about distance and how that was a factor, but because of his travel experience at the AAU level, it's worked. "I haven't gotten homesick."

On leaning on the experienced players - "It's nice because they can show us the ropes, but at the same time I want to play. I want to get in there and contribute."

On his skills - "I can guard, I can handle the ball and I can shoot." Added that because of Romar's system, it allows a certain amount of freedom to just go out and play within the structure.

On adjusting to playing defense - His AAU coach was a defensive-minded coach, so they used their defense to accelerate their offensive transition game. Said that playing up-tempo is what he likes to do.
Nothing official yet, but we're hearing that Kevin Calabro might be doing the play-by-play for TV this year, replacing Brian Davis.
Lorenzo Romar Notes:

Opening statement - Taking far too long to get here. First got here up for the challenge, same for the second year. This year the anticipation is as exciting as since he's been here. This team has a lot more answers going into the year than the last three years. Three years ago we knew what we had going in. This year we know what we have. We have some pieces in place. Will they come together? Don't know, but definitely have less questions to answer.

On young guys - Have playmakers, not just scorers. More guys that can make plays, get deflections, can create and set others up, can break down defenses.

On difference from last year - experience and guard play

On the Pac-10 being down - No way. May not be as strong from top to bottom, but not down - no way.

On Isaiah Thomas - Can shoot it, pass it, handle it. Haven't had a lot of those the last couple of years. They could do a couple of those things, but to have someone that has multiple skills - he can do it. And he may not be the only one that can do it.

On areas of emphasis - Jury is still out on how good a shooting team they can be. Want to have more of a defensive mentality, get down and stop someone. Don't want to come across as we're going to win it all. Just feel better about this team because there are less questions that have to be answered.

On starters outside of Jon Brockman - Quincy has worked on his game and it would be hard to see him on the bench.

On free throw shooting - Feel dumb saying this, but I think it's going to be OK. Said it 30 times last year, but I think we have more players on this team that can make foul shots. Those that didn't have great years last year will be improved. Guys are more aware of it. Been here six years, last year was the only year it's been a problem. Hopefully it's an aberration.

On Quincy - Last seven games in Pac-10, 13.5/7 per game. That's improvement. On top of that, he's in great condition. He's stronger. Given him additional confidence.

On smaller guards - In college, don't see as much posting of guards. When you do that you change their whole offense. When you have smaller, quicker guys up against bigger guards, it's hard to guard them. So I don't see it as a disadvantage.

On style of play - Can't be an up-tempo team if you aren't forcing bad shots and turnovers. If you don't have the offensive players to push and finish. We've been deficient in that area. Last year weren't great defensively. Three years ago, we pressured teams and got out and ran. Haven't had as much of that the last two years. We're moving more toward where we were three years ago.

On Brockman - When you look at him, he's transformed his body. He's 250 pounds and looks like he's 230. Has a doberman, sleek-like look. He's highly, highly motivated.

On using frosh - Never have asked a guy to redshirt since we've been here. Turner and Suggs can shoot it and handle it. Either one could play point in a pinch. They are not limited wings. They are playmakers from the guard position. Breshers, when he last ran consistently was in March. Played with a broken shin the whole season. Hopefully can play 5-5 next week. If he can get in condition, he might surprise some people with his potential impact. Extremely strong and knows how to move his body around. During workouts last week, Brockman went to box him out and he was too quick, went around him. Very good shot-blocker. If he can get into condition, he will help tremendously.

On roles changing - Great thing about Justin Holiday - like Bobby Jones - is his versatility. Gets his hands on balls, always around the ball, gets in the action. Wolfinger may be our best shooter. Missing the boat trying to play him as a power center. Went back last year and saw how many good games he had despite not being able to play a full practice at the beginning of the year. Gant had surgery four weeks ago for hernia, and it will take time for him to get back. But he can run, get back to play defense and has a great touch from outside.

On expectations for this year - Expect this team to do really well. Not sure what that means now. Got a group as close as any group we've had the last few years. They have more versatility than any the last few years.

On using personnel in the front court - Closest thing to center we have is Artem Wallace. Wolfinger could be a center, but plays more on the perimeter. MBA is more a forward. Breshers isn't a perimeter guy, but more power forward than center. We've never been pigeon-holed into using a set style. The best five that can defend and make plays will play. Height won't matter. But if they have a guy that only plays that position that can make plays inside, they would play.

On inside ability - On paper I think we're pretty good. We'll see how that translates. Brockman is proven. The rest need to prove themselves.

On getting started quickly - Four new freshman and one redshirt frosh. We had young players during Jones' and Roy's senior years. Have seniors and juniors now with experience. Brockman, Pondexter and Dentmon all third year starting. So the new guys don't have to carry the team. In the past we've had to worry about that. The older players will be there from Day One that knows what it takes.

On guard play - Dentmon has had his ups and downs. He's capable of doing things. If Appleby was still here, the team would be fantastic because he'd be able to get the ball.

On MBA - Experience this summer helped him a lot. He came back from Europe a confident player. On paper he's considered a 'monster'. If he rises up to the expectations we have for him, he's going to help us a lot.

On playmakers - Justin Dentmon, Isaiah Thomas, Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter, Venoy Overton and Justin Holiday.

On former players helping - Helps when they come back and talk about having success here. That's when you sit back and smile. The old guys teach the new wave of guys. Brandon, Will and Bobby coming back is great. Give credit to the younger guys for listening to the older guys and paying attention to what they did.

On confidence - Guys like Will had false confidence, wanted to rule the world, just didn't know how to. But give them credit; they figured out what it was going to take and put in the work to figure out how to do it. This team - there's not a lot of 'i' guys on the team, and the veterans are leading by example and showing the rest how things are done. The older guys policing the younger guys, and that's what you want in your program.

On having more of a civic responsibility - Yeah, but not sure how much of that is because of the Sonics not being around.

On Artem - He's doing well. Will participate in drills. By end of next week he'll be right in there.

On IT and how he's different now - Better student and much more mature person. Always was a very good basketball player. 90 percent of people that see him play talk about how they didn't know he could pass. In HS, teams asked him to score - but he's always been a good passer, it just hasn't been his role. I just want him to be a basketball player, go play to the best of his ability and do whatever he needs to do to get a win.

On Defense and improvement - Little longer, little quicker, little more athletic, and that should help us being a little better on defense. Won't be baseline to baseline pressure.

On Brockman and the hurt he inflicts - That's just who he is. You never tell a guy like him to slow down or watch what he's doing. That's his calling card. MBA was asking that he put a 'reverse horn' on him to get some advance warning. You have to survive when you're on the inside with him.

On being able to pick defense up quickly as a freshman - Lot depends on the player, and their intelligence level, as well as what they've experienced in high school.

On Portland - First time open on the road since we've been here. Only up three with three minutes left at home last year. They have all their players back. It's a dangerous game. Right off the bat we've got our work cut out for us.

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