Here’s a partial transcription of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar’s comments during the team’s media day earlier this afternoon.
We posted a video earlier if you’re interested in seeing/hearing the rest of his press conference. Among the most notable items:
— C.J. Wilcox has been limited in practice thus far as he recovers from offseason foot surgery, but he should be ready to participate fully before too long. There are some lingering health issues that are preventing a few other players from practicing full-go — freshman guard Jahmel Taylor is among them — but Romar didn’t think any of those issues would be serious.
— Romar strongly believes senior forward Perris Blackwell will be one of the team’s most consistent scorers, along with Wilcox.
— Asked to pick a Pac-12 favorite, Romar said he doesn’t think there’s an argument against picking Arizona, because the Wildcats have “about 75 pros” on their roster.
(Opening statement) “Always fun for this time of the year to show up. As usual, going through football, really enjoying this football season so far, also been able to enjoy our group, our guys that are back here and going to be playing for us this season. We just had several practices. I would describe our practices in terms of the new format, where we can go a little earlier, as getting everything fixed up. We’re about to paint. You put the tape on and get everything cleaned up so you can do the job. That’s what these practices have been. A lot of teaching of drills, trying to get organized, teaching guys the system so that when we go, say, Monday, this coming Monday, which is kind of the normal time you start. Usually this Friday would be the normal time you’d start practice. Come Monday is when we’ll really have practices we’d like to have. All of them leading up to now has just been a lot of teaching and getting organized.”
“We want to make sure that we play the way we’re accustomed to playing. That’s an attack type of fashion, and that we’re playing up-tempo basketball. Last year it seemed like the majority of our possessions were in the halfcourt, and a big goal of ours is to make sure that doesn’t happen as much this year. You have to play halfcourt basketball and have to be somewhat effective if you’re going to be successful in your season, but our approach is we like to push the ball in the open floor as much as possible.”
(Biggest key this year?) “Being able to stay healthy. I commented several times in our first eight, nine years that we were very fortunate to have avoided the injury bug. I remember UCLA, going through it seemed like every year someone (was) hurt. I remember Cal-Berkeley one year had Theo Robertson was out, Patrick Christopher was out, Jorge Gutierrez was out, Harper Kamp was out. They weren’t having a very good nonconference and all those guys came back they started to play really well. I remember just thinking, man, knock on wood, we haven’t had those. Well, it’s hit us the last couple years. We had some key injuries that you have to go out and try to do well, it takes a lot away from what you’re trying to accomplish. That might be one of the main things. And along with that, depth. In order to play the way we want to play, you have to have depth.”
(On the size) “You watch our team go out, this is I believe the tallest roster we’ve had since we’ve been here. Jernard Jarreau is 6-foot-10, Robert Upshaw is redshirting, he’s a 7-footer, Gilles Dierickx is close to 7-foot. Shawn Kemp is 6-9. Perris is 6-9. We just haven’t had that since we’ve been here. And they’re all pretty good basketball players. Perris, I know we only have him for a year, I wish we had him for a year and at least one more game. A year and two more games. Whatever we can get out of him more than a year. We’re going to enjoy this year, having him, because he’s experienced, he’s not going to be intimidated and he’s a good basketball player. He gives us an option that we just haven’t had in a few years. That is a guy we can throw the ball to who’s going to do something productive with it.
“Shawn Kemp Jr., Jernard Jarreau, those are guys we are hopeful and expectant to take the next step. Not unlike years past with guys like Quincy Pondexter, Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Dentmon, where they hit a point in their careers when they’re upperclassmen and they really come on. That’s what we’re hoping for in terms of our bigs.”
(Guards adjusting to there being more size?) “The only thing is, we’re going to demand that we throw Perris Blackwell the ball. Him, and then after that Shawn Kemp are probably our two best low-post options. Last year Shawn was hurt for the first several weeks of the season and we just didn’t have much we could do down low. That wasn’t those guys’ strengths. Our bigs this year, we do feel like we have more of the low post game. The guards’ adjustment will be we have to make sure we look to get those guys the ball.”
(Changes to high post offense?) “We’ve made some changes in terms of just being able to get into it quicker, but aside from that we’ll be running the same high-post offense.”
(Who’s best catching the ball in the high post?) “Jernard Jarreau is probably the best. Again, when we’re talking about high-post offense, we start our offense out with a one-guard front. What that means is it’s pretty much a 1-4 alignment. In a two-guard front you have two guards up front and three across the foul line. The one in the middle is the guy that’s always the high post. He becomes like a setter in volleyball he’s always there. That’s his job. With a one-guard front, either post, based on what side you throw the ball to, they become the high post. So if we get the ball to Jernard, he probably is the most versatile. He can knock a shot down, put the ball on the floor and drive it by you. He can also make a pretty good pass. But the rest of our guys are functional. There’s not anyone that is bad at it. So the rest of the guys are functional, and getting better.”
(On coaching turnover on the staff) “When you start talking ‘it was needed,’ that implies it was something we had to go do. Some things that started to work itself out last year … one of our coaches was sick, we had to take on somebody else. That kind of began to evolve that way. … It wasn’t something that we set out and just said OK, we’re going to have to make these wholesale changes. It just kind of worked its way out.”
(On the freshmen) “The three freshmen would be Nigel Williams-Goss, Jahmel Taylor and Darin Johnson. Jahmel Taylor is one of the guys that’s had the nagging injuries where he hasn’t really been able to practice yet. He’ll be able to do 5-on-0, 2-on-0 stuff this week and start to progress more. Jahmel is about 5-11, he’s quick, he can push the ball with really good quickness, but he also can guard the ball. The way we want to defend, he really fits in well because he can pressure the basketball. He can break the defense down. He’s a really good shooter.”
“Darin Johnson, we’ve been very pleased with Darin Johnson. He’s strong, he’s athletic, he’s aggressive. We would imagine that when he figures everything out and what we’re trying to do, he’ll get to the foul line quite a bit, and he complements that aggressive mentality with a nice jump shot.
“Nigel Williams-Goss is a floor general that understands who he is as a basketball player, and our guys like playing with him. He gets guys the basketball. In his own right, it’s not 5 on 4. Sometimes you have guards that are out there that can facilitate and get you in the offense but you don’t have to guard them. I don’t like for our system to have those type of players. You have to guard (Williams-Goss) as well.
“Mike Anderson is a junior-college transfer that is a versatile guard that can play all three positions out there on the floor, defend all three positions, kind of like a utility guy that can do a little bit of everything pretty well.
(Vocal leaders?) “We have Andrew (Andrews who) leads, Nigel as a freshman is one of the more vocal guys on our team. Perris Blackwell is vocal. We have several guys that are vocal on our roster.”
(Battle for playing time?) “We always say coaches don’t really decide who plays. The players do. You act upon what the players give you out there. I’ve also said that the worst thing to me is to have five guys competing for two spots and they’re not consistent. It’s very frustrating for coaches and them because one day they’re good and the next two days they’re not good, and the replacement replaces them the day they’re not good and he’s good one day, then they’re even again and no one steps up. That is the worst. I think it’ll be different this year. I think it’ll be more like what you’re talking about where guys are more consistent and making plays every day. At that point, I don’t care how many of them there are, you find a way to play them. It’s that simple, contrary to what some might believe. Defense, obviously is going to be something that can set you apart. It helps if we can make a basket. That always helps in our game. So what five players make the best team? The five best players don’t always make the best team. That’s kind of how we pick our starting lineup. Guys that defend, work their tail off, pick up what we’re doing, they usually get ahead of everyone.”
(On defensive pressure) “That’s always been interesting to me. People say, ‘guys, why aren’t you pressing anymore?’ We’ve never pressed, ever, since we’ve been here. After free throws we would press at times and we would pick up early and we will go more picking up early. But we’ve never gone out and pressed for an entire year. Situationally, we would. But we will pick up early and try to establish our pressure earlier than we have in a while.”
(Number of guys in the rotation?) “No number. It’ll be more than seven.”
(Who looks like they had a good offseason?) “Jernard Jarreau looks like he has stepped it up. He’s playing stronger. Playing with more confidence. He would be one that in terms of our returners has caught our eye.”