FROM TUCSON — Here’s what Washington coach Lorenzo Romar had to say after the Huskies lost, 71-62, to No. 1 Arizona at McKale Center on Saturday afternoon.
(Opening statement) “Well, obviously that’s a very good basketball team. We talked to our team about Arizona was a team that would capitalize on your mistakes, and the second half, they took the lead, they went up two or four, and during that time I felt like we kind of got away from what we were trying to do defensively and offensively. Just offensively thinking maybe that we had to just hit home runs every time we got the basketball right away. That put them kind of in a rhythm and a little more transition. We missed some box outs that were timely and key, and there they went. And they were able to come out with the victory.
“I’m proud of our team. I thought our team played tough. I thought our team scrapped. I thought our team weathered the storm until the end. More than anything, our team has made a lot of progress from a month ago. Just a good ballgame. Hats off to Arizona.”
(How important can this weekend be going forward?) “Well, if we understand that now we’re a better defensive team than we were before and we take that with us and understand if we play the right way, that we have a chance to be competitive with anyone in our league … if we can remember that, and remember why, then we can draw from this weekend and it could help us.”
(How much did foul trouble for Shawn Kemp and Perris Blackwell hurt?) “Probably more for Kemp because Shawn probably had a breakout night, for this year. He was playing really well. He got in that foul trouble and he had to sit down. With their length, we needed all the size we could get. It was tough. Even when he went out, we were still OK, but we just probably got worn down by the end of the game.”
(On Kemp’s final two fouls) “I don’t know. Hostile crowd, you’re playing, everybody’s competing. It is what it is. I’m sure they have some that they thought were questionable. It all evens out sometimes.”
(On dealing with the crowd in the second half) “That’s something I think that we have kind of fell short, even at home sometimes, if things aren’t going right, maybe we try to rush a little too fast. But certainly they have an unbelievable home court advantage. The fans here were loud and aggressive and that certainly fuels Arizona that’s for sure. I thought our guys maintained our composure. Let’s not forget Arizona may be the best defensive team around, anywhere. So that sort of thing can happen when you’re playing against them. I just think we could have done a better job of not allowing them to impose their defensive will on us by being a little more patient.”
(On facing Arizona’s big frontcourt) “With so many big bodies, you’re banging the entire time, and like I said earlier, down the stretch we could have just got worn down a little bit physically. I’ll tell you, our guys gave it everything they had. Our guys battled and were physical. I thought our guys were tough. After so long, maybe down the stretch it just got to us there late.”
(On C.J. Wilcox’s game) “I thought C.J. did a heck of a job. I thought he was aggressive here on the road. I thought he tried to really take his team on his back and try to will his team to win.”
(Is that the best Perris Blackwell can play?) “He played really well here tonight. That’s not his first double double. When we were in New York I think he had a really good game down there too. We know that’s what he’s capable of doing.”
(He’s not intimidated by it) “No, he’s a fifth-year senior. He’s been through a lot. Played a lot of games.”
(Did you see Shawn Kemp’s offensive game coming?) “We were hoping it was coming. He was getting better and better – I shouldn’t say better and better. Stronger and stronger. I think today kind of hit a head where you could see that he’s feeling a whole lot better right now. Last year when he was out several weeks with his knee injuries, it took him a while to get going. Once he got going, he was pretty good.”
(What does Kemp give you?) “A little more physicality, size, another guy to score on the block. Length. He’s played in some games himself now, a little more experienced.”
(On Arizona guard Nick Johnson) “Nick Johnson puts the heat on you the whole game, defensively and offensively. You always have to be aware of where he is. He always seems to make a timely steal, hit a timely bucket. They have a lot of heros on that team, but none bigger than him.”