Romar in the Age of Transfers

SEATTLE - Lorenzo Romar has developed a special sense for distinguishing transferitis - the desire to leave one school for another. In fact, he has honed a nearly tactile response so acutely it acts much like a BS detector; only it works both ways. He can sniff out the cases that can become infectious diseases, as well as those that turn out to be nothing more than homesickness in disguise.

Transferitis has become a common affliction among college basketball players the last decade or so; the need for a better opportunity appears to be the only shared rationale for it - logical or not.

"I was surprised, but not shocked," Romar said Thursday afternoon when asked about the news of sophomore guard Elston Turner transferring from UW. "It didn't blow me away. We had talked before. You look across the Pac-10 and across the country…this is an age where kids transfer. It starts when they are in the sixth grade, AAU teams…if they don't like what they see they go to another team.

"I just know that he wanted to be in a position where he was able to do more things out on the basketball floor. It's a process. Every guard we've had in our program, we encourage them to be complete basketball players, and to go out and do it. I thought at the end of the year Elston was doing some of those things…driving to the basket and making plays. But that was their decision, and I respect what they want to do."

Going all the way back to C.J. Massingale during Romar's first year at Washington, players have thought about pastures seemingly greener than Montlake. In the case of Massingale, he saw the writing on the wall in February of what became his final year at UW. "He knew Tre Simmons was coming in, and saw himself becoming the odd man out," Romar said. "But he had a great attitude about it. He's getting married this summer, and I'll be in his wedding. We stayed in touch over the years…when he comes back, he calls. There were no hard feelings.

"And I don't think there are any hard feelings in Elston's situation. I just think he thought there was somewhere else where he would have a better opportunity."

Transferitis can be highly contagious; Romar said that other than Jon Brockman, he's not sure of another player he's coached at Washington that hasn't thought about it, or had someone in their ear telling them about it.

So who ends up contracting this disease? "Depends on who they are," Romar said, matter-of-factly. And he's absolutely right. Former Huskies Justin Dentmon and Quincy Pondexter were diagnosed with Transferitis early in their UW careers, eventually overcoming their cases through patience and plenty of hard work. "It usually works out for them if they have that talent."

Romar's first UW commit - Bobby Jones - wanted to transfer after his sophomore year. "Bobby didn't want to transfer," Romar said. "Someone had got to him…'you need to have more shots', and all that. And I knew that. 'Bobby, c'mon' … and he never talked about it again."

Romar added that there are others that, once they say the 't' word, they need to go, because in many instances they are giving themselves a license to become a cancer once something goes wrong.

"We've been fortunate enough to get better and recruit a higher level of player, I think that's just something we'll see from time to time," he said, also acknowledging the trend that has filtered through the Pac-10 and the national scene.

"We're fortunate enough to be in a position where we are able to recover," he added, noting how the Huskies could have really used Charles Garcia this past winter, but were still able to come together and make it to the Sweet 16 without him. "There are guys that are in the program that will get more of an opportunity and will do a fine job. If you have one player that's above your program, then I don't know if you have much of a program."
Notes:
More on Aziz: Romar was asked some more about the signing of Aziz Ndiaye, a 7-foot, 255-pound center prospect from the College of Southern Idaho. N'diaye will have three years to play three, starting this coming fall. Romar said that first-year assistant coach Raphael Chillious talked to Romar about N'diaye in the fall. The coaches went out to see him, even though he was out with knee injury, but saw film on him and came away duly impressed.

"He can really run the floor," Romar said of N'diaye. "He's athletic, he's quick…he's not a lumbering, laboring big guy. He's got big hands. He's very competitive and very aggressive. He does not mind mixing it up. He's kind of an enforcer, to tell you the truth."

He added that it is the 'combination of athleticism and intensity' is something Spencer Hawes and Joe Wolfinger - the other 7-footers to have played for Romar at UW - didn't have. "He's a banger." He also noted N'diaye's penchant for Brockman-like dives to the floor without a second of hesitation. "He's fearless."

When asked for a comparison to a current player, Romar mentioned Ben Wallace. "He can catch it, turn on you and knock a shot down," he said of N'diaye. "He's really strong going to the basket. He's still a little raw offensively; he has to continue to work on his touch around the basket."

N'diaye's official visit was during UCLA game that was televised by ESPN. "He wanted to play at the highest level," Romar said. "It was Game Day. We played well. It wasn't a special day for the crowd; that's how the Dawg Pack at our games are at home. He was able to see that. It showed him that this is big-time basketball too.

"If we would not have won like we did, would he be here? No. He wanted to win. He wanted to go somewhere where he felt he would be successful. So if we don't make the Tournament this year, he probably wouldn't have come."

Romar said that N'diaye is at about 85 percent recovery from a knee injury that kept him out all of last year. "He's more rusty than immobile," Romar said. "Running is easy for him and he can move from side to side. He's just rusty right now from not playing."

N'diaye will be out to Seattle in time for summer school, so Romar anticipates he'll be fine.

Desmond Simmons update: Romar was asked about the other signee for the 2010 class - Richmond (Calif.) Salesian forward Desmond Simmons. "He's a great kid with a great work ethic, and another guy that winning is first and foremost in his mind," Romar said. "What can I do to help you win? And that stuff is contagious. It really is. Justin Holiday came in with that mindset, won three state championships in California. When we were making our run to win the Pac-10 title, he came to life. The things he was saying in the huddle, the encouragement he was giving…he might as well have been a coach. You could see he understood what winning was all about. And this year, he put that out there on the floor and carried it out. And Desmond Simmons is a lot like that. He's won a state championship; he knows what winning is all about.

"Those guys really, really help your team, because when things get rough they aren't going to go sideways and go off the path. They stay right with it. In fact, they pull guys together."

Romar on Trent: Romar said he was a little surprised to see forward Clarence Trent last only three practices during spring football. "I thought he had some ability, but again - it wasn't for him," he said of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound freshman. "So he stepped away."

Romar admitted that Trent caught him off-guard when he asked for permission to try out at defensive end.

"It was probably a little overwhelming for him at the time," Romar added. "He hadn't played in a while. At least on the basketball floor, if things aren't going your way, every once in a while you get a steal or a dunk to mentally recover, at least. And on the football field, he hadn't gotten to the point where he experienced any success yet. And the coaches weren't exactly sugar-coating their coaching. So I think it was all a little tough for him all at once. If he would have stayed with it and got over the hump I think he would have been fine."


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