Lorenzo Romar appears each week on the Pac-12 coaches’ teleconference. Here’s a summary of what he said today …
— Romar was asked about California’s apparent improvement this season. He said he thinks it’s been triggered by the progression of players like Justin Cobbs, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, and Richard Solomon, who leads the conference in rebounding.
Romar said Cobbs is “playing with a lot of confidence,” and that Solomon has become “one of their go-to guys. The toughness he’s playing with right now has been really good.”
— Was he surprised California swept Oregon and Oregon State on the road last week?
“I wouldn’t say I was surprised, but I don’t know if I necessarily would have predicted it,” Romar said. “That was two really good wins for them. The fact that they started out with three wins on the road I think is pretty impressive.”
— As you might imagine, most of the questions about UW’s 3-1 start to Pac-12 play are geared toward the Huskies’ defensive improvement, a topic Romar has addressed at some length over the past couple weeks.
Romar said again, among other things, that UW “kind of had to reinvent ourselves on the defensive end and dial it back. … That in turn has allowed us to provide more help on (dribble) penetration.”
Regaining the services of Desmond Simmons helped, Romar said, and as Shawn Kemp Jr. regains his strength after being diagnosed with Graves disease, that should help, too.
— Asked about C.J. Wilcox, Romar said that like Cal’s Cobbs, he’s a fifth-year senior who is playing like it. Being able to practice every day has helped, too. A foot injury limited Wilcox from practicing much a year ago.
— How close was UW to landing Cal freshman Jabari Bird during the recruiting process?
“I thought we were close,” Romar said. “I thought there were times when it was really close to maybe we were right there with them. Jabari’s a great kid from a great family. His dad went to Cal, they did a great job of recruiting him and he trusted those guys and in the end he decided to stay home.”
Cal coach Mike Montgomery said Bird, who averages 11.3 points per game, will likely return to action tomorrow after missing Cal’s last four games with a sprained ankle.
“He is extremely talented,” Romar said, lauding Bird’s athleticism and defensive abilities, calling him a “really versatile, outstanding talent.”