Q & A with Coach Lorenzo Romar
Lorenzo Romar became the 10th coach in history to record 50 wins at Washington with Saturday's 68-55 win at Washington State. He reached that plateau in his 83rd game, the fifth fastest to 50 by any UW coach.
Coach Romar's 14th-ranked Huskies make their final home appearance this week, hosting Arizona State on Thursday and ninth-ranked Arizona on Saturday.
GoHuskies.com: How much of an impact have the sellout crowds had on your team's performance?
LR: 'It's a tremendous boost, a tremendous lift for your team when you have people not only coming out in numbers, but also being loud and supportive. You feel like they've taken ownership of this team. It almost feels like one family together. When you're winning it probably feels more like family because people probably support you even better...It's been really, really good. Guys are feeding off the energy, they talk to other players and recruits about how great it is to play here at home, so that has been a phenomenal boost. I think when you look at teams across the country that have these long winning streaks, I think they have great fan support and that is definitely what we have. What happened in Pullman with them coming out there and getting stuck up at the top was fantastic. At times they drowned out the Washington State crowd. ...I always felt that if you were to win in Seattle, people would support you. When I played we'd get 4,000 a game on average. In 97 or 98 when UW went to the Sweet 16, I saw what type of fan support there was. I didn't know that we could sellout every home game in the Pac-10 and almost sellout every non-conference game, that's phenomenal. I knew that people would support us, but I didn't know it would be to this level.'
GoHuskies.com: Would you comment on this year's senior class who play their final home games this weekend?
LR: 'Seniors go through a lot. Hakeem (Rollins), Tre (Simmons), and Alex Johnson have been here for two years and it's a big game for them because it's their last home game. I was only here two years and I remember that last game. Will Conroy has been here four and he's seen a wide variety of events here at the University of Washington. He's gone through a lot and I know it's pretty special for him.'
GoHuskies.com:How much emphasis do you put on maintaining the homecourt winning streak?
LR: 'We've mentioned building a program and having a program that you can be proud of. Now we've won 20 consecutive games at home and are building on that. That's really special. An undefeated home season, which could possibly happen, is great. It's even greater when it continues to add to a home winning streak. I think that's pretty special for our guys to be a part of something like that.'
GoHuskies.com: Have you been involved with any other teams that had an undefeated season at home?
LR: 'As an assistant at UCLA we lost one home game the whole year and now on the records book that loss doesn't count because it was a forfeit, so we didn't lose any. It was different at UCLA because if you did lose one, they wanted to fire you. That's different from this year where people are fired up about this.'
GoHuskies.com: What legacy will the current group of Huskies leave?
LR: 'It's going to be one of two things. It's going to be one: those were some of the most exciting times, I remember when... or, those guys were the ones who got it started to where the program is now. I think one of the two is going to be their legacy. Hopefully it can be the latter.'
GoHuskies.com: How have you managed to keep up the team's intensity throughout the season?
LR:'It's extremely difficult because we had to give the Alaska Shootout our best shot. When we practiced early in the season, we practiced to be in a position to win that Alaska Shootout. I see now as a result that winning that has helped us tremendously now for postseason, RPI, things of that nature. We put a lot into that and that was early in the year. To continue to try to play at that type of level is something that is very difficult to do, but I think our guys have done a great job in maintaining that balance.'
GoHuskies.com: How have you recoevered from the tough loss at Oregon State?
LR: 'As I said then, I didn't think there was reason to panic. We had lost three other games, but we had played relatively well and had a chance to win all three of them, but that game against Oregon State, and for that matter, that weekend, was not very good. That weekend was a setback and if we had come back against Washington State and been horrible, then you start to look a little closer, but I didn't think that happened. I thought our guys came out and played even better than when we played them at home.'
GoHuskies.com: How much emphasis do you place on winning the Pac-10 regular-season championship?
LR: 'We have talked title for a long time, not just this weekend. We've had our eyes on winning as many games as we could to put ourselves in a position to win the title. Several weeks ago we talked about that.'
GoHuskies.com: You had success against Arizona State's Ike Diogu in the last meeting. What adjustments will ASU make for Thursday's game?
LR: 'I'm sure they'll try to make adjustments for him to have a better game. If he gets 23 points, you feel like you just dodged a grenade. He's such a good offensive player. They've seen every conceivable defense imaginable, so I'm sure they'll work hard to get him the ball. I also think that there are other guys on their team who are capable of going out and scoring. It's not just the Ike Diogu show. They work hard to get him the ball, but I'm sure that they work with those other guys too to get them to knock down shots.'
GoHuskies.com Would you comment on Mike Jensen who had a good game at WSU?
LR: 'I think it's always good for Mike (Jensen) to have positive experiences because it lifts him up so much emotionally when he does that. There's no question that when he has a positive experience, his confidence goes up so high.'
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts on being one of four nominees for the Coach John Wooden 'Keys to Life' award that will be presented on Final Four weekend?
LR: 'I've gone to that banquet every year since they've had it. Marv Harshman received the award one year. I've always enjoyed going to the event and being a participant, now I guess I'm even more of a participant.'
GoHuskies.com: Did Tre Simmons snap out of his slump at WSU?
LR: 'Shooters go through times where they aren't hitting as consistently as they would like. In spite of that I think we've gotten by almost unscathed. He seemed to snap out of it in the second half against Washington State. He's a much bigger piece to our team than people realize...He can get on a roll and change a game in a matter of five minutes. He's a big, big part of what we're doing. People forget that he's our leading scorer, second-leading rebounder, second-leader in steals and has become one of our better defenders.'
GoHuskies.com: Can a Pac-10 team get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament?
LR: 'I think it is, but I don't think there is room for any more slippage. Whoever it would be would have to win-out. Then it would be possible, I'm not saying it'd be a lock.'
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