Men's Basketball Media Day Report

Nov. 1, 2005

The Washington men's basketball team staged its annual media day on Tuesday, Nov. 1 in the Founder's Club of Bank of America Arena. Following player interviews, fourth-year coach Lorenzo Romar conducted a press conference.

Following is an abbreviated transcript of Coach Romar's comments:

On what he knows now, that he didn't before practices started:
'All summer you think what this team could be like, and you envision maybe certain guys stepping up, and you have some questions as to how soon it will take the freshmen to step up. And I would say all the things I thought about this summer are pretty close to being what we thought.'

On the starting line-up:
'We're still trying to settle on the starting line-up and the rotation. Still, and I don't think this will happen by the first game, when you're trying to blend in six new faces with your team. I don't think it happens overnight that you're clicking on all cylinders. That's going to take us a while, but that's what we're trying to do. '

On the likely starters:
'I named Brandon (Roy) and Bobby (Jones) before, I think we're still with those two.'

On not being ranked very high:
'Well if they rank you high then they know what they're talking about, if they rank you low then they don't know what they're talking about. No, I'm just kidding! Arizona's been to the NCAA tournament I think twenty-two or twenty-three consecutive years so I have no problem with them thinking they're going to be good, I think they're going to be good, I'll join them in that. We have not been a program that has been very, very successful for five, 10 or 15 years running. We've had two years of success so I think we are on people's radar but I don't think people look at us at this point as a perennial national power. And as a result of that the voting is where it is and I have no problem with that at all. You have to go out and prove yourself every year and when I say prove yourself it's not necessarily to the others, but to us. We have to prove to ourselves that we are worthy of getting back to the NCAA Tournament and being successful this year. That's something we have to work out within our own program.'

On the home-heavy non-conference schedule and if it will be beneficial:
'The timing of it is; I think it would have been really rough if we had the same schedule as last year this year. I just don't know if we'd be ready to attack that type of schedule, but going into last year's schedule I didn't know how well we would do but I knew that we'd be very competitive. If we had that schedule at the end of this year I think we'd be prepared to attack, but early on I think it's good that we'll be able to play a lot of home games.'

On the players saying they didn't know they'd be running so much:
'I tease them. I tell them that I want to go to a running program and they think that it means `I get to shoot whenever I want to shoot', not literally run all the time, `I didn't know what it meant coach.' In order to be an up-tempo program you have to be in great condition and I think that's what we try to instill into our guys. Not only be in great condition physically but also mentally. When things don't go right, when it first hits, you have to be able to play through that and that is not easy to do.'

On which graduated player he misses most:
'I think you miss Tre Simmons' ability to just break a game wide open with that great shot he had. I remember Tre scoring twenty-one points in seventeen minutes. He just gets in the zone and scores on plays. You miss the warrior mentality, no-quit attitude that Will Conroy brought. Hakeem Rollins, his ever-present attitude of doing whatever the team wanted him to do. And just Nate (Robinson), the dunks the spectacular plays, those were all fun and a lot of people hadn't seen anyone of that size do that before, including me, but I've seen many spectacular plays in my day. What excited me more was just how he would walk out on that floor and have no idea that he was 5'8', and he believed that he was going to win. He was going to win as an individual and he was going to win as a team, and that can't help but rub off on his team. There's no secret as to why he's been so successful. You miss that.'

On possible deepness of rotation:
'I think we can go 10 deep.'

On Brandon Roy's role this year compared to last:
'The ball will be in his hand quite a bit more. You can't go out and play a game and not have the ball in Nate Robinson's hand. Will Conroy became the best assister in UW history, he had to have the ball in his hands part of the time. Tre Simmons is a pretty good scorer; somehow he has to touch the ball. We had so many guys with the balls in their hands who could make great plays, we don't have that as much now so a lot of that's going to fall on his shoulders, to have the ball in his hands and make those plays. It doesn't mean he's going to score 40 a game. It just means he's going to be even more of a playmaker and he was a playmaker for us in the past in his position. We'd run a lot of offensive sets through him where he wasn't the guy necessarily scoring.'

On the schedule being not as tough:
'Well, as I was saying earlier I think that this schedule this year, with so many home games, I don't look at it as tough teams or not tough teams. We've won 22 straight consecutive home games here and our crowd has done a fantastic job of inspiring us and supporting us. The fact that we're playing at home, you feel like you have a chance to be competitive with anyone so, we really like that with this young group here. I don't know how that's going to play out when we hit conference and go out on the road with so many young players, but we'll see. Hopefully our schedule this year can be beneficial to us.'

On Mike Jensen's recovery schedule from shoulder surgery:
'It seems like he's doing really well, yes.'

On the 10-man rotation:
'I think the question was how deep a rotation could you have if you chose to do that. I think we could go 10 deep, but that doesn't mean we'll go 10 deep.'

On the hardships with the team being so young:
'When you're young you're thinking more than you're playing sometimes. We watch film every practice and you begin to see exactly what this team does, what it looks like. Then you go back and look at last year's team and there were very few mental mistakes, if any. Guys just knew exactly where to go, they knew where the other person was because it was a veteran club. They didn't have to think, that team just played. This team right now is doing a lot of thinking. So as a result you get miscommunication defensively. You turn the ball over more. You miss scoring opportunities. Players are open but I'm thinking, `Was I supposed to go off this screen? Was I supposed to go to the right or to the left?' And while you're thinking that, this player's wide open waiting on you to pass them the ball. Things like that are some of the growing pains that you go through. Once players adapt and are very comfortable with your system, then they can go play basketball based on their instincts.'

On changes in coaching staff:
'Well I see it a little bit like our team. When you lose the great guards like Nate, Will and Tre, and then this year we think we have good guards as well. We think we probably need to get a little better to be as good as those guys, but in place of those guys our front line is a little better. We have guys that are more physical, guys that are better rebounders, guys who you throw the ball to on the block and they just need the ball, they don't have to have it in the certain position, with the stars aligned, they just need the ball. That is a different dynamic, it doesn't mean it's better or worse, it's just a different dynamic. Ken Bone's experience as a coach and his experience in the Northwest is something like our guards, you just don't replace. Then you get something like Coach (Paul) Fortier who played here, loves this university, and has played the pivot position and works with our bigs; he's been very successful at it. He's learned some things at Cornell; he's learned some things as he's played at other places that he brings to the table. One of the things that is exciting about anytime you have a new assistant is whatever they have learned, they share with your staff and you get better as a result. Three or four guys who've all played for the same coach, all went through the same system, and you never learned another way to do it, I think you can be limited. I think when you have an additional staff member come on just like Coach Bone did, just like Coach Shaw did, Coach Dollar did when he first came on, you always somehow draw from them and get better.'

On red-shirting freshmen:
'We don't go in saying, `you're red-shirting,' We never do that. We wait to see how things go. You get a guy like Mike Jensen, let's just say Mike Jensen was out for the year. If you told someone they're going to red-shirt and then all of a sudden you're going to use them, that changes things. Or, on the flip side, two or three players emerge and they've improved over the summer and you brought a guy in to play, but now he's behind, he would then maybe have to red-shirt. So we just have to wait, we have until our first game before anything like that's going to happen.'

On what might surprise us:
'I don't know if there's anyone you don't know about, but I think you'll see some guys, that are currently guys that you do know about, doing some things that you didn't know they could do. And I'm not just talking about Brandon (Roy) handling the ball.'

On progression of the freshmen:
'This freshmen group is the most cooperative, coachable group that I've ever been around in terms of freshmen coming in. They are really good at trying to catch on. They'll ask questions. Some guys ask questions to try and show you up, or get themselves out of a bind; these guys are asking questions because they want to get better and we love that about them.'

On if it's true that the freshmen just need to get practices in:
'Yes, it is. Any time you're new at anything there's an adjustment period. When I first became an assistant there was an adjustment period, not that I got to be a really good assistant but it was an adjustment of me having an understanding of what I was supposed to be doing. As a head coach there's an adjustment period, just gaining that understanding. I think anytime you're new on a job there's an adjustment period and I think that's the case with the freshmen.'

On the sense of urgency for freshmen to improve:
'Well there are some that are talented enough that while they're adjusting they're still out-playing some other people, yet they're still adjusting. Now, to the outside they're going to say, `Wow, he's doing good,' but you haven't seen what he's going to end up doing when he makes his adjustment. They're just talented enough to make mistakes and not know. I think the extreme example was Nate Robinson, In his first game that he played more than five minutes in on the road, he kept getting in everybody's way because he didn't know any of the plays and he was just running around like crazy. He ended up with 19 points and got a standing ovation at the end of the game. He had no clue what he was doing as far as what we wanted him to do, but he knew how to play basketball, and that's what got him by until he caught on to what we were trying to get him to do.'

On any surprises he has seen about the freshmen:
'We knew that Artem Wallace was athletic, but we didn't know how athletic he was. He can run, he can jump and he can move his feet. We really thought it was going to be really difficult for him on the defensive end for his first year; that's what we thought. He is not a lockdown guy right now, but he is further along defensively than we thought he would be.'

On Joe Wolfinger:
'His lack of strength, and this is a good thing, I think that's his only issue right now. His lack of strength and with the drills that we do, because we do run and because we do ask our players to be all over the floor, it's already forced him to become more agile and I think he will continue to gain more agility. I think those are the only two things right now that are holding him back from being a very good basketball player. I would say he's probably our hardest worker right now. When the whistle blows and we practice, we have a lot of hard workers. Joe not only is one of those hard workers when the whistle blows, but then when the whistle blows again at the end of the day to say practice is over, he picks up a ball and goes back out there and works on stuff himself.'

On a reasonable expectation for the team:
'I don't know where we would place in the conference. I would like to see us get to postseason.'

On injuries:
'One of the things you're very concerned about every year, at least I am, is it seems so many injuries occur in those first two or three weeks of practice. Something's always wrong. It's been going pretty well for us and I don't think it's alarming at all when someone misses a practice the first two or three weeks due to some kind of injury. You're all of a sudden being pushed in ways you haven't been pushed all summer, and all spring. That happens from time to time but I don't think we're really concerned about that.'

On freshmen talking about learning from watching Bobby Jones:
'Well he's perpetual motion and he's just relentless. He's constantly, constantly trying to gain an edge, which is intentionally in his work ethic. He's not really distracted out there, you can just see that he's playing with a purpose the entire time that he's playing. What those freshmen don't see is that Bobby was a freshman at one time too and there were things that he didn't know and there were mistakes he made at the time, but one of the mistakes he never made was a lack of hard work. I think if anything, they can learn that from him.'

On Bobby Jones winning a gold medal with the U.S. team at the World University Games:
'Well I know that it was great winning and he enjoyed winning that gold medal and to be with some other guys, some other players from different programs that he hadn't met. He indicated that that was fun. I think he would have liked to had played more and been more of a contributor. Sometimes again, that's a wake up call to just show that you have to be able to bring it, there are other coaches out there that think differently, and there are other players out there. You have to always be working.'

On the reputation of the program:
'I would say people know where the University of Washington is and if we were to be successful this year people wouldn't be surprised. I think people respect our program. I don't think people view us as a perennial national power. They probably view us as a team that was cute to watch, they exceeded everyone's expectations, no one gave them a chance and they continued to do well, they were fun to watch, and let's see if they come back again.'

On Sunday's exhibition opponent Simon Fraser University:
'I don't know a whole lot about them at this point. We'll know a lot about them by the time we play them. Coach (Jim) Shaw, who's responsible for that scout, I'm sure knows more about them than I do at this point. We'll meet and we'll have a thorough knowledge about what they're all about by the time we play them.'

On the point guard position:
'This is getting like the quarterback situation in the preseason of football. Forgive me, but I have to give you the same answer. Who was our point guard from last year? Whatever one you say I'm going to say, `Are you sure?' I don't know if we have a point guard. We have guards that get a lot of play. Will Conroy had the ball in his hand quite a bit, but there's certain times in the game Nate (Robinson) had his ball on the hand quite a bit and there's certain times in the game Brandon (Roy) had his hand on the ball quite a bit. You'll probably see more of the same this year. I don't mind the question at all I just feel bad I have to keep giving the same answer. You think I'm just turning you off, I'm not, that's just the answer. I'm not going to make something up, it's just that's the answer.'

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