Washington coach says players must focus on defense and be more selective on three-point shots to bounce back from loss to Washington State.
Maybe Lorenzo Romar has too much of a good thing.
For years he dreamed about coaching the basketball team he now has at Washington.
At the start of this promising season gone awry, he described the Huskies as the deepest, most athletic and best-shooting team he has ever had. With at least three games remaining, they’ve also set a school record for most blocked shots in a single season.
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Still, there’s a disconnect between Romar and this talented group .
On Tuesday, the coach said the Huskies forgot who they are in the second half of their 80-69 defeat to Washington State on Sunday.
Romar said the Huskies played good defense in the first half, but missed eight layups. “And every time we missed those layups, I think we mentally deflated a little bit,” he said.
Everything unraveled in the second half. The Huskies allowed 56 points — the most in one half all season — and sent the Cougars to the free-throw line 29 times.
“In the second half, we lost concentration as to who we were,” Romar said. “If we miss 40 layups in a game, if we would still continue to defend, we would have a chance. Whenever the Huskies are not playing well, it’s because we lose sight of that.
“But sometimes our focus is on that offensive end.”
At his core, Romar is a defensive coach, and yet he has stocked the roster with three-pointer shooters who have the green light to fire at will.
In two losses to Washington State, the Huskies missed 39 of 58 three-pointers.
They attempted 27 threes Sunday, and 11 were contested.
Romar wants Washington to be more patient offensively. He told his players to turn down some open three-pointers early in the shot clock. He wants them to work to get a better shot or create a foul and get to the free-throw line.
“If you eliminate the contested (three-pointers), you don’t shoot as many, but your percentage will go up,” he said. “The old less-is-more theory. … Shooting a three is not an issue for me. The issue is shooting them when they’re contested or when they’re rushed.”
Washington is second in the nation in scoring at 85.4 per game. Romar doesn’t believe the offense needs an overhaul.
“We need to understand a little better what the right shot selection can do for us,” he said.
For the first time this season Romar acknowledged that injuries have robbed Washington of some depth. .
Reserve forward Tyreese Breshers retired unexpectedly at the beginning of the season because of an undisclosed medical condition. Starting sophomore guard Abdul Gaddy suffered a season-ending torn ACL on Jan. 4, and starting junior guard Scott Suggs has missed the past three games because of a strained left MCL.
Suggs was expected to practice Tuesday and is listed as probable for Thursday’s 6 p.m. game against UCLA at Edmundson Pavilion.
“To play the way we play, you need that depth,” Romar said. “And slowly our depth has been affected a little bit. You go from having 10 available to nine available and then, more recently, eight available in terms of scholarship guys.”
Romar also speculated his substitution patterns have hurt the defense.
“I think maybe I’ve played guys too many minutes at times to where physically we’re worn out to play the type of defense that we should,” he said.
There’s no disputing the Huskies (19-9, 10-6 Pac-10) have been wildly inconsistent. They pulled off the difficult sweep in Los Angeles for just the third time in school history, but were swept on the road against the Oregon schools.
They’re 13-1 at home and 6-8 on the road. They have a record six 100-point games and they were held to 17 points in the first half Sunday.
Washington started 4-0 and 7-1 in the Pac-10, but lost three straight and has dropped its last two conference games.
Romar admitted the Huskies haven’t progressed over the course of the season much as he’d hoped.
“I think we are getting better at this point,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve improved like we should have, but I think we’re getting back to where we were before we dropped those three in a row.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org