Its on to the next for Washington.
The NCAA Tournament is still going on, but Washington is back home on spring break. Head coach Lorenzo Romar spent an hour with the media and covered everything from program building to next years freshmen.
It was expansive, so well divide it into a few parts. Heres part I:
No surprise, the loss still stings. You have to move on. The sun came up the next day. Im already looking, you know, toward next year but the NCAA tournament is still going on and with that brings a constant reminder of how close we came to moving on to the next round. So, itll get smaller and smaller, the sting, as you call it, but therell be like a little pilot light thatll just still be there.
What does losing 11 games by just a total of 55 points tell you? We werent good enough to get it done, number one. Number two, this team was very unique in that the team that we were thinking of putting out on the floor preseason wasnt the team that was on the floor this year.
So it was unique in that whatever team weve had in the past, there were those games that we came out and just didnt play well, we got beat by 17, maybe 20-25. That never happened this year. Even the games we didnt play well, I cant think of a game this year we didnt have a chance to win. And I think that says something for our team this year.
I think when Abdul (Gaddy) went down, we slightly, slightly adjusted how we played offensively in that Isaiah (Thomas) probably dominated the ball more than any guard weve ever had here. When Nate Robinson and Will Conroy were the starting guards, the ball was in Brandon Roys hands a lot, it was in Nates hands a lot, it was in Wills hands a lot. This year, we played just a little different in that there was close to being one primary ball-handler in there quite a bit. And thats a little different than how we played, and Isaiah did such a good job with it, he ended up leading the Pac-10 in assists, and single-handedly won games for us at times.
I think in other years past (when) we were successful, we were injury free for most of the year. And that wasnt the case this year. So in spite of all that, we had a chance to win every game. I thought by the end of the year, we were playing our best basketball. I thought by the end of the year we literally had a chance to beat any team in the country.
So, yeah, we could focus on the 11 losses, we could focus on we didnt get it done, which is all true. We had that tough stretch where we lose the three consecutive road games. What we felt we could count on was home wins, we lost two out of the last three. Those situations obviously affected us, and prevented us from having a stellar season, I think. But they happen. But through the midst of it all, I thought our guys really came together at the end.
What will Isaiah Thomas role be next year? He probably wont be handling it (the ball) as much as he did this year. Again, Venoy (Overton) and him were in there together this year at times but Isaiah played more minutes this year, and down the stretch, he played a lot of minutes and when he was in the game, the ball was in his hands. Like I said, weve never done that before. Weve been successful the other way, when others handle the ball, too. I think it just shows Isaiahs versatility this year. It was great our team was able to adapt to that type of situation, also.
Do you agree or disagree that playing Isaiah Thomas as the shooting guard again next year hurts his draft stock? Totally disagree. Heres why. Isaiah was able to play on the biggest stage this year. Everyone in the country got a chance to watch Isaiah play point guard, and as I mentioned earlier, not only play point guard, the ball was in his hand most of the time. He made most of the decisions, he did a lot, and there were a lot of NBA people at our games. They got to watch him, live and up close, run a team. So its not like they wont have any past data to draw from.
How do you replace the post scoring of Matthew Bryan-Amaning? Youve heard me say before, when Jon Brockman, it was mainly Jon Brockman when he left, how are you going to replace him? When Quincy (Pondexter) left, how are you going to replace him? So Matthew, how are you going to replace him? Every year it seems like theres something that seems like its going to be difficult to replace, and trust me, it was difficult to replace what Jon Brockman brought. We still havent replaced it. Its difficult to replace what Quincy brought, we havent replaced that. But weve done it in a different way. We do things in a different way. So Im sure next year, were still looking to go out and sign someone else, but in this program I think players have stepped up. Theyve done a good job of stepping up in someone elses absence.
Next year, well have bigger wings, bigger guards. Abduls back, hes 6-3, Tony Wroten, hes 6-4, 6-5. Those are bigger guards. You already have (Scott) Suggs, (C.J.) Wilcox and (Terrence) Ross. Those are bigger wings. And you still have a 7-footer. (Incoming freshman) Jernard Jerreau, although hes thin, he is a long 6-10. He looks more like a John Henson from Carolina. So I dont think we take a backseat to size necessarily. In some ways we get a little bigger out on the perimeter.
Can you be effective scoring inside without Bryan-Amaning? I think we can be an effective team. Now, when you look at the stat sheet after every game, it says points in the paint. It doesnt say by your bigs. It just says points in the paint, and you win if you score points in the paint. Dribble penetration, post up your bigger wings, offensive rebounding, all those are points in the paint and the objective is to try to do that. Again there are some guys that could emerge and be functional down there on the block. They havent necessarily shown it yet.