Lorenzo Romar held his final weekly radio show of the season on Monday, appearing on Sports Radio KJR (950 AM) for an hour to talk about the end of the 2013-14 season.
We’ll pass along the more interesting stuff first …
— There have been questions about Robert Upshaw, who redshirted the 2013-14 season but was not seen on the bench during games in the second half of the season. Romar had been pretty vague when discussing Upshaw’s situation throughout the season, and there has been speculation about where he stands, exactly. Percy Allen wrote about the subject earlier Monday. It was thought that Upshaw was working through some sort of personal issue.
Asked about it on Monday, Romar said: “He’s still working through all that. He’s still in school and as I’ve been saying for the longest, as he’s working through all that we just take it one day at a time and we’ll go from there.”
Upshaw, a 7-foot center, transferred to UW from Fresno State, where he played one season before being dismissed for repeated rules violations.
— In case you were still curious why the Huskies aren’t playing in the College Basketball Invitational, it’s not because the CBI didn’t want UW. Romar said there were “several calls” from the CBI, but that “we just kind of felt our guys were dead set on playing in the NCAA tournament. That didn’t work out. The NIT… I don’t know that our guys were prepared to do something other than those tournaments. It was an invitation we didn’t accept.”
— Asked what the Huskies’ biggest statistical weakness was this season, Romar quickly answered that it was UW’s defensive field-goal percentage (47.5).
“That was definitely a problem for us in the non-conference, and then we were inconsistent … when conference came around,” he said.
Romar added that he thinks if the Huskies hadn’t had to change their defensive philosophy in the middle of the season, they could have been more consistent from the start.
— It’s been three seasons now since the Huskies have made the NCAA tournament, and after they were passed over by even the NIT this year, there has been increased grousing from fans about the direction the program is headed.
Romar was asked about fans who view this season as a failure.
“I think if Kentucky does not go to a Final Four, their fans would consider it a failure, especially because they were No. 1 in the country early on in the year,” Romar said. “Well, us knowing basketball the way it is, how hard it is to get the Final Four, especially with a lot of freshmen, and I know Kentucky’s done it in the past – that’s hard to do. You don’t just show up and get to the final four. So we understand that The reason I bring that up – we are not Kentucky – but people close to our program have come to expect us to go to the NCAA tournament.”
When UW play-by-play man Bob Rondeau, who co-hosts the show with Elise Woodward, joked by asking Romar “and whose fault is that?”, Romar replied: “That’s kind of what people expect. So there were years before when we first got here, I remember we had won three games and it was like we had won the league. But there’s a different standard now. There’s a different bar. And I totally understand that, and for people to say, ‘you’re 17-15, you didn’t get to the tournament, it was a failure.’ Well, there were a lot of people that said it was a failure when we won the league three years ago and didn’t get to the tournament, because of that standard. I totally understand that. Trust me, it wasn’t our choice not to go to the tournament this year, and we’re going to work our tails off so that we can get back there.”
— To that end, Romar spoke a bit about a few players who will return next season, and said he hopes the Huskies will be more dynamic defensively.
“I think we have some players on our team that can take a big jump from this year to last year – the jump that we felt Jernard Jarreau was taking this year, from last year to this year, before he got hurt,” Romar said. “I think there are some candidates that are capable of doing that. So that’s going to be real important. And then next year I think with our personnel, the ability defensively to give you different looks at times. Traps out of different places, coming out of different situations. I think that’ll help us defensively, again, because we’re going to have a lot of versatile players defensively next year.”
— Romar said Jarreau is able to jog on a treadmill, and that his rehabilitation from an ACL tear is “coming along well.”
Jarreau also benefited in a way by being able to watch from the bench in the middle of his career.
“He was able to sit back and watch almost from a coach’s perspective, and my goodness was he enlightened,” Romar said. “He would say things on the bench and in meetings where you do a double-take and you say ‘is that Jernard? Wow!’ … I think he has gained a different perspective about what it takes to win on that basketball floor and be your best just by watching.”
— Romar said he expects to see a different Mike Anderson next season, because Anderson made the “sacrifice” of playing out of position for much of the season. With UW thin in the frontcourt, Anderson, a 6-foot-4 guard, often defended players four-to-six inches taller than him.
“Mike Anderson is a better player than he showed this year,” Romar said.
— Romar said he thinks freshman guard Darin Johnson has a chance to be a double-digit scorer next season, because of his ability to initiate contact and get to the free-throw line.
— On Shawn Kemp Jr., Romar said: “I think (he) is going to dedicate himself this spring and this summer like he’s never dedicated himself before.”
— Romar also addressed two incoming freshmen — and a junior-college transfer — who will join the Huskies next season.
On Donaven Dorsey, the 6-foot-6 guard from Timberline High School, Romar said: “If he comes in and works his tail off he definitely has a chance to help us this year.” Romar said that with freshmen, it’s hard to know exactly when they’ll be ready to make an impact, but that he thinks Dorsey will be a “special basketball player.” He weighs around 195 to 200 pounds, Romar said.
On Tristan Etienne, the 6-foot-10 forward from Abbotsford, B.C., Romar said: “Really skilled for his size. Has a nice 16, 17-footer, can really pass the ball in the high post, knows how to read defenses, very smart player, good shot blocker.”
And on Quevyn Winters, a 6-foot-4 guard who played one year at Duquesne before transferring to Indian Hills-Ottumwa Junior College: “He’s not averaging 20 a game, but if he were playing on a team where he was featured more, he would have the ability to do that,” Romar said, noting that Winters’ junior-college team averages more than 90 points per game and features other Division-1 talent. “He will come in and be able to knock that 3-ball down.”
— And on UW’s announced trip to China for a regular-season game against Texas in November 2015, Romar said: “What makes it unique, it is groundbreaking, it’s never been done before so we’re making history. Usually you go over there, you take your time, you go and see the sights — this is a real game. This is going to count toward your RPI. It’s going to be a unique experience that no one else has been able to take part in.”