Washington Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar was in studio Wednesday morning with Mitch Levy on KJR 950 AM. The two covered a variety of topics, ranging from the NBA’s one-and-done rule, to the NCAA tournament, to whether Washington will resume its series with Gonzaga.
It was a fairly light-hearted segment, with Romar speaking pretty candidly in response to nearly every question he was asked. Perhaps of most interest were his comments toward the end of the show, when Levy brought up the subject of Washington state Senator Michael Baumgartner’s proposed legislation to force the Huskies and Gonzaga to play each other every season.
To that, Romar replied, “We don’t need all that for us to play again. I said we’re going to end up playing again. We don’t need all that. There it is.”
The teams won’t play in 2014-15, Romar said, but he added that “it’s closer than people might think. Won’t be next year. It’s closer than people think.
“There has been communication. Bottom line is, there does not need to be some type of legislation.”
— Romar was asked again about 7-foot center Robert Upshaw, whose status with the team has been the subject of mystery for the past month-plus. And again, Romar didn’t have much to say about it.
“We’re just waiting. He’s in school. We’ll kind of cross that bridge when we get there,” Romar said. “Right now, we’ll just conduct business as usual and then we’ll see.”
— Romar said that in past years, he might not have paid as close attention to the Pac-12 tournament and NCAA tournament after the Huskies lost out. But this season, he forced himself to watch.
After UW was bounced on the first day of the Pac-12 tournament, Romar remained in Las Vegas, and said he watched every second of every game. From his hotel room.
“I didn’t even go to the games,” Romar said. “Just sat in my room and watched every minute of every Pac-12 game. Self-inflicted punishment.”
He said that even though next season is still months away, “already I’m watching those games, looking, evaluating, deciding what we’re going to be doing, what we’re going to do to make things different. That type of thing. Just preliminary thoughts.”
— On the subject of the NBA’s one-and-done rule — a phenomenon he has never been shy about discussing — Romar said he thinks the trend of players leaving early has completely caught up to the college game.
“There’s so much more parity now where it is perceived as an upset because it’s a 2 vs. a 15, but in actuality, it’s not an upset because there has become more of an even playing field,” Romar said, using the NCAA tournament as a reference point.
He said that while he still believes there are “some really good teams” at the college level, college basketball as a whole has become “a little more like what I did not like about pro sports.”
To illustrate this point, Romar used Joe Morgan, the baseball Hall-of-Famer, as an example. He said that in the past, even if you hadn’t followed professional baseball closely for a couple of years, if the Cincinnati Reds came to town, you knew you were going to see Joe Morgan.
“Nowadays,” Romar said, “you don’t know who Joe Morgan’s going to play for.”
He sees that beginning to happen in college basketball, too.
“Spring is a time of free agency now,” Romar said, citing players who choose to leave early for the NBA draft, or transfer to a different school and sit out a year, or transfer to a different school and play right away if they’ve already earned their degree.
That attitude, he said, begins at the AAU and high-school levels, with players frequently switching schools and travel-ball teams in search of more and more playing time.
“You don’t have as many dominant teams anymore because a lot of teams are starting out,” Romar said, referring to college teams that rely heavily upon freshman and other newcomers from year to year due to early departures.
The coach also mentioned an anecdote of visiting a young NBA player who had several suits in his closet, but they were all filthy because he didn’t know to take them to the cleaner’s. More and more, Romar said, college players leave for the NBA and are drafted, but they end up in the NBDL because they simply don’t know how to go about their business as a professional (hence the filthy suit story).
That, he said, results in a “more watered down NBA situation where they’re just not sure how to play, and the game has changed that way and I think it’s changing that way in the college game also.”
He’s not necessarily in favor of players jumping straight to the NBA, either, but said “I think that may be the lesser of two evils.”
— Asked to evaluate next year’s team, Romar said many of the same things he said during his final coach’s show last week, so we won’t rehash all of it here.
— Romar was asked to fill out a bracket for the Sweet Sixteen, and predicted a Final Four of Michigan State, Florida, Louisville and Arizona. He picked Louisville to beat Arizona and Michigan State to beat Florida, then predicted Michigan State would win the national championship.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple