With the Washington Huskies departing Tuesday morning for Las Vegas, coach Lorenzo Romar and a couple players met with media on Monday afternoon to discuss the upcoming Pac-12 tournament.
Romar also discussed the Pac-12’s end-of-season awards, which were announced Monday and included C.J. Wilcox on the All-Pac-12 second team, and Nigel Williams-Goss on the all-freshmen team.
Romar thought Wilcox deserved first-team recognition.
“Congratulations to C.J. This is the second time he’s been able to get it, back to back. But very mind-boggling how he couldn’t be on the first team,” Romar said. “I don’t understand that one. That’s not the first time I haven’t understood the end-of-the-season award sometimes. That’s no slight on those who were on the first team. I just think that’s a no-brainer that C.J. Wilcox should be on the first team.”
Asked if perhaps UW’s record (17-14, 9-9 in Pac-12) had something to do with Wilcox’s snub, Romar replied: “You could say that, but … he deserves to be on the first team. That simple.”
Wilcox said the second-team selection wasn’t what he was expecting, but also said it didn’t come as that much of a surprise.
“I’m not losing sleep over it,” Wilcox said. “Like I said, it’s out of my control and I’m going to keep doing what I do best and we’re going to try to do some damage in Vegas. That’s where my head’s at right now.”
Here are some additional quotes from Romar:
(On playing the tournament in Las Vegas vs. Los Angeles) “I enjoy it more in Vegas, to tell you the truth. I think there’s more atmosphere, more tournament-like atmosphere, around the tournament in Vegas.”
(Harder to keep track of players in Vegas?) “It could be. But LA wasn’t like that was in the middle of the desert itself, where that was isolated. There was a lot going on there as well. That hasn’t been an issue for us, put it that way.”
(What’s better about it?) “The atmosphere, the fan support. Just seems to be more interest centered around the tournament in Las Vegas.”
(Have you heard that from UW fans?) “I haven’t really heard, but you look at the turnout in Los Angeles vs. last year in Las Vegas and there was a considerable number of fans that were added for this tournament.”
(Was there apprehension last year with the change?) “There was change, so you weren’t sure what to expect. But I was pleasantly pleased with how it turned out.”
(Is Las Vegas a good compromise, location-wise?) “It could be. I don’t know if anyone … Arizona and Utah are the closest. They have the easiest drive or flight, whatever way you want to put it. I don’t have a problem with it being there. After one year. We’ll see how it goes.”
(Any ways it can be improved?) “In terms of the people coming to the games and the marketing of it, I think that’s been fine. There’s some areas we talk about in our own conference meetings about what can be improve internally and we’ll see if those have been addressed when we get there.”
(Thoughts on playing at noon?) “Probably the ideal time might be the 6 o’clock time but noon is fine. Sometimes you sit around all day and you’re anxious, you’re ready to get going. But we’ll get right up and get right after it.”
(What did you learn from games against Utah?) “I would have to say for both games is that Utah is a very difficult team for us to play against and they always have been since they’ve entered the Pac-12. Coach (Larry) Krystkowiak and his staff do a tremendous job. Those guys are in just about every game. You go down to Stanford on senior night and lose that game by one point and have the ball with a chance to win the game. I said that says a lot about that team. Stanford had a lot riding on that game and Utah went in there and made it close. So they are not an easy team to play against. It confirmed it the first time we played them and it confirmed it the second time.”
(What hurt you in loss to Utah?) “Turnovers, poor shot selection. I would say those are the main two things.”
(Do you think this is a wide-open tournament field?) “Oh yeah. Really do. Every game is going to be very unpredictable.”
(On some teams not having as much to play for and not being as focused) “I don’t think so. I think there’s always something you’re playing for. So take a UCLA. They’re going to be in the NCAA tournament, but they’re still fighting for a seed. They want to see how high they can get seeded. So there’s something in it for everyone. There’s not one team in this tournament that’s going to say hey, this is not a big deal, we already have as high of a seed as we would like and we’re fine. I don’t think anyone is approaching it that way.”
(On Nigel Williams-Goss being named to all-freshmen team) “Great. Nigel, as far as I’m concerned, he was right there for Freshman of the Year. He didn’t get it, but he had to be right there, because he’s had a really good season.”
(Is this what you expected from him?) “Yes. We knew he’d come in and be a leader and not be intimidated and he would do a whole lot of things to help us be a better basketball team. He’s done a nice job.”
(Any surprises with his game?) “No. that’s why we recruited him, to do what he did this year – what he’s doing.”
(What’s it going to take to win four games in four days?) “Very little margin for error. We have to come out, starting Wednesday, with just a great focus. A great focus and a great togetherness. If we can do those things, I think other things will take care of themselves. But we can’t talk about how many points we have to score, we have to outrebound this team – we have to play with focus and a together attitude, and we’ll be OK.”
(On Perris Blackwell coming off the bench) “So far I think it’s been fine. I think he’s played well. I think we lost to UCLA but I think we’ve played well as a result.”
(On conference tournament memories) “Salim Stoudamire going crazy in the Pac-12 tournament, 37 points or whatever it was. Playing against WashingtonState, Klay Thompson scoring 43. Both games we were able to win, but also us winning it for the first time, 2005, Nate Robinson hitting some big shots down the stretch. I remember how we felt that time. The year Isaiah (Thomas) hit the shot, that was great, but then the year before when we won it, I think we had beaten Cal … that was a lot of fun, also.”
(On Utah) “They really guard you. And we talk about our shot selection, they seem to do a pretty good job of taking care of the basketball and getting a good shot at the basket. That’s why they shoot such a high percentage from the field.”
(On Utah guard Delon Wright) “You’re never safe with the basketball with him around. He has such quick hands, good length, such anticipation. He just gets his hand on a lot of balls. And then offensively, he doesn’t shoot a lot outside but yet he shoots a high field-goal percentage. He’s constantly putting the pressure on you. He’s as valuable to his team, as valuable as anybody in the league, to me. He kind of does it all.”
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple