Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar addressed the media Tuesday to discuss the Huskies' first weekend of practice.
Romar opened up by discussing the first weekend of Husky practices.
"First weekend went well - no injuries. That's one of the few times that we've gone through that opening weekend without anyone getting hurt. Those that were already out due to surgery, made progress. Darnell Gant is making progress. There's a good chance that next week he can start practicing, and there's a good chance that Artem Wallace, by the end of this week, could be practicing full time. Tyreese Breshers is still a little bit behind. Our guys competed, our guys worked hard, and I thought it was a successful weekend."
Is it nice to have a focal point on the team, a player like Jon Brockman, who you know you can go to in times of need?
"I think really good teams have someone like that or several like that. It may not be just one guy that's the focal point. There's multiple guys that are who you look to to make the big plays. Obviously Jon is that guy for us. I think it's a no brainer that there's a good chance that Jon will have the basketball a lot of times."
Romar further discussed players having defined roles on the team.
"Whether everyone believes it or not, I don't know, but it helps when people understand who does what. I don't think it's limited to a guy that takes certain shots at certain times. To know we can look to player A when times get tough and a guy is scoring on us, to go in there and shut him down. Everyone has a role on the team, and as we continue practicing, those roles will become defined. Right now, they're not totally defined."
Romar discussed sophomore Justin Holiday's defensive play.
"Justin Holiday did a nice job this weekend. You can see he's improved. When you mention defense, Justin stands out. He's someone who's everywhere with his long arms. He knows how to play the game."
How did the players hold up as far as their conditioning?
"By Sunday you could see their tanks were getting a little low, but they did a pretty good job getting through the practices. We have ten healthy bodies to practice, so when you go two and a half hours, you can get worn down, but our guys survived it."
Romar discussed how the trip this past weekend was more than just vacation and practice sessions.
"It serves more purposes than just going out and getting away practicing. We talk about how we conduct ourselves on the road, how we handle ourselves. There's a number of different lessons we can draw from."
Sometimes it can be hard for the players to get back into the groove of things. Is it hard for the coaching staff to do the same?
"I think our staff has been waiting to get back into the swing of things since the summer. I don't think it was something we had to warm up to. We've been waiting for this day."
It's no secret how awful the Huskies' free throw shooting was last season. How did that aspect of their game look this past weekend?
"I guess it won't matter until we play the games, because when we shot free throws in practice, we always made them last year. We'll wait till the games start. When I know, you'll know."
With a perceived lack of solid three-point shooting this season, does Romar expect teams to play zone defense more often than not?
I don't know. It's happened a couple of times going into the season, people thought that our shooting would be down, but we didn't see more zone than we saw other years, so I couldn't answer that."
Have the players started where they left off at the end of last season?
"You can see that the seniors really understand what's going on. It's interesting, you watch the freshman now and you remember how our sophomores looked last year. They've made strides, understanding conceptually what we're doing in there. They're in the right spot far more often than they were last year. Now the freshman have to learn. But overall, you can see the difference."
Has Romar noticed the upperclassmen having an impact on the freshman?
"You can see that. Certain drills - normally you explain them in detail and the execution of it takes a while. But the execution in some of the things we do was there from day one. Our upperclassmen have done a really good job of working with the younger players, directing them. I feel like they probably get them before practice and say whatever you do, don't do this - when we do this drill, this is what they're going to emphasize. They seem to police each other. There's certain things you think you're going to have to talk about at length, but sometimes we don't. It's partially the experience - been there, done that, but our freshman are pretty smart basketball players, so I'd think they would naturally pick things up pretty easily."
Romar compared right now to this point last year.
"I could say we are further along this year than last year. I keep bringing up the word playmaker. When you have more playmakers, everything seems to flow a little better. When you have more playmakers, you don't have to be as creative as a coaching staff. You put guys in places to perform and let them perform."
Romar discussed freshman Scott Suggs and his need to get stronger.
"Scott definitely needs to get stronger. I don't know how much bigger he needs to be. I've seen players over the years that weren't studly looking, but they were strong - they had wiry strength, which was good enough. I think he's the type of player that definitely needs to get stronger, and that will happen as his body matures. But at 6-foot-6, he's a skilled guard."
Are you starting to see a certain combination of players in the back court that seem to play better together than other combinations?
"No. All of those guys in the back court can play. We can go into a number of different combinations and do just fine, because they can all handle the basketball. When you've got guys that are limited, maybe they can't handle the basketball or maybe they can't create, now makes it a little tough. You've got to watch who you put with who. But when they can all handle it, pass and they're comfortable playing perimeter positions, they're all interchangeable then."
Romar explained how he will determine a guard combination?
"We change the team just about every practice in the early goings, and just let different combinations work itself out. Then you begin repeating some of those combinations. After awhile, there's a pattern that develops. You notice when these two guys are playing together, they seem to always come out on top. When these three are playing together, they just always beat the other team. Those combinations begin to show a pattern, and eventually that's how you end up picking your group."
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