New Head Coach Lorenzo Romar Speaks in First Press Conference
April 4, 2002
General Remarks: 'I really appreciate this reception and I appreciate you all coming out here today. I have been very fortunate in my athletic career. I was fortunate enough to play basketball here, there were kids all across the country that would've loved to play here. I was fortunate enough to somehow fool enough people to play in the NBA. I was fortunate enough to be a part of a national champion team in 1995 with UCLA and also to run my own program as a head coach these past couple of years. I never knew I would be this fortunate to come back and run the program that I was a player at.
'I followed the Huskies, obviously when I was here and even after I left. I've always kept up with the Huskies, and not just in basketball, all sports. If I am able to come here and do anywhere near the job that Marv Harshman did I will be extremely excited. It is one of those things that is eerie in that when I think of coaching this basketball team, I think of Marv Harshman. To be in a position, the same position he was in just a few years ago, when he used to jog around this track about one mile per hour is just something that if you would have told me 20 years ago this was going to happen I don't think I would have believed you.
'I have several friends who are coaching at their alma mater, and I have talked to them about that and they have shared their experiences with me about coming back to where they played collegiate basketball. I know that I am going to use every muscle and every bone in my body to make this program as successful as it possibly can be.
'Our teams will compete at a high level and play very good defense. It seems as though everyone who gets a new job, wants to play up-tempo basketball, and that is something we want to do. As I look at the last 20 years at programs who have gone to the top, some of these programs now are doing very well that haven't always in the past. There is no reason why Washington can not be at the top of the Pac-10. It is not going to happen in a day or two, there is a lot of sweat to put forth. I want this program to be as successful as it can be and I am very excited to be here.'
On being the first African-American basketball head coach at Washington: 'When you think of things that you want to accomplish in your lifetime, you don't think about being the first in a situation like this so it is pretty overwhelming to me. I want to thank the Lord, Barbara Hedges and Mr. McCormick for believing in me. I just hope that I can represent the African-American community and the university to the best of my ability.'
On the timetable of getting hired: 'For me, I have always followed the Husky program. But I never thought to myself, 'Lorenzo, you are a candidate.' People figured because of the ties that I had that I was an automatic candidate. At Saint Louis I had all my players coming back and I was very excited about the future of the program. I was then contacted and remember feeling relieved and excited. We sat down and talked and I started to become really, really excited. I was torn however, about coming here to Washington to become the head coach. I knew it was something that I was excited to do, but I was torn in leaving my players. It wasn't until the day before yesterday that I knew this was something I needed to do.'
On Washington's team this past year: 'When I was watching tape on the University of Washington this year, I realized how talented they were, their multiple weapons, and how relentless they were on the offensive glass. I'm impressed with the team, they have a great nucleus. I'm getting even more excited as I talk to the players about leadership and expectations both academically and on the court. This team is very good, but does not have great leadership yet. As a coach you need to know quite frankly, that a team who sells out to one another works hard together, has great leadership, and breeds more talented teams. Talent along with leadership is very important.'
On recruiting: 'I think it is very important to be successful in the Northwest. Because the Pac-10 is spread out over a few states, I have found you can go in any of those states and recruit. I think we would be missing the boat if we were not recruiting in California. There is outstanding talent in California. Look at Miles Simon, he is a great player and people wondered why we didn't go after him when I was at UCLA, but we took Toby Bailey instead. There are great players in all the Pac-10 states. Then after that, in terms of national recruiting, if there is one person that is interested in you, maybe has ties to the University it is our job to go after him.'
On Washington being a football school: 'I think it is a great combination that we have both football and basketball. Recruits that can come in to watch a football game can see there is a lot of excitement around the football program. I want them to do as great as they possibly can. Look at Oklahoma where their high level of football speaks for it self, but now their basketball team is very successful too. I want all the sports at Washington to compete at a national level.'
On how he first became interested in Washington: 'Being a southern California kid, in which the Pac-10 was the Pac-8 at the time, I knew every school in the conference. I had been playing in the first of two games in which Marv Harshman had come to see another player in the second game. He saw me play and talked to my coach after the game. Obviously I knew who Marv Harshman was, and they convinced me to come on a visit here at Washington. I did and when I got off the plane in the Los Angeles airport and was walking to baggage claim, I saw an elderly man about forty feet in front of me and I thought, 'I bet that guy could give me some advice on whether or not to go to Washington.' His name was John Wooden and I walked up to him. I said, 'Coach Wooden, you don't know me but my name is Lorenzo Romar and I have a decision to make about going to the University of Washington, what do you think?' He told me, 'If you have a chance to play for Marv Harshman, I wouldn't pass that up.' The case was closed, end of story.'
On the difficulty of returning Washington to basketball dominance: 'This is definitely a compliment, not an insult to be here at Washington. You look at what Ernie Kent and his staff has done at Oregon, and you know that it can be done here. I thought we were a better program than Oregon when I played here and for a long time that was the case at Washington. Stanford was not a great program, in terms of basketball, when I played here, nor did Cal win a lot of games. I don't think there is any question with the commitment and resources we have that we can't be successful here at Washington. I have been told many times, especially in NBA camps, 'You can't do this' so that doesn't really faze me.'
On how much he thought his style would compare to Harshman's: 'At the time I thought zero, until I hecame a coach, and reflected back on the things he would do that I could not understand at the time. Now things make a whole lot of sense. Coach tells the story of when I was with Athletes in Action, and although that was not a Division I program, we played some of the top programs in the nation. The first person I called was Marv Harshman, he helped me understand that it is not just drawing up plays, there are many other things that come into play in order to be an effective coach. The thing that I remember most about Coach Harshman, was that he was a stickler for the fundamentals. His character stuck out to me as a coach, I really felt like I could trust him. Our guys would complain that we were doing the same old drills every day, the first thing we would have to do is the daily dozen. I tell you what, from doing those daily dozens every day, I became very good around the basket as a result of that. The things we would do every day were the fundamentals, but we didn't understand that at the time.'
On academics: 'Our goal is to graduate 100 percent of our players. At Saint Louis we had 11 players that over the three years they were there all graduated, and there are two that are going to finish up this summer and one that may never get his degree, which was a decision he made. We want a 100 percent graduation rate. We will talk about going to class, and ensuring that each year you pass the appropriate number of credits. Academics are a high priority and we make sure that all of our student-athletes are in the position they need to be in to graduate.'