Huskies Lorenzo Romar, Jon Brockman, Justin Dentmon, Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton honored by Pac-10.
One of Lorenzo Romar’s favorite sayings to his team is, “It’s amazing what can get accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
As Romar says he has learned, eventually, “those that should be honored will be honored.”
So it was for a Washington Huskies men’s basketball team that was relatively devoid of major honors before and during the season, but reaped a barrelful Monday when the Pac-10 Conference announced its end-of-season awards.
The Huskies, who had just one player-of-the-week winner all season, had twice as many players named to the all-conference team — senior forward Jon Brockman and senior guard Justin Dentmon.
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Guard Isaiah Thomas was named freshman of the year and was named to the all-conference second team. Dentmon was given the newly instituted award of most improved player.
Then there was Romar, who was named coach of the year for the second time, the first coming in 2005.
Washington State guard Taylor Rochestie was a first-team all-conference selection, and Cougars DeAngelo Casto and Klay Thompson were named to the all-freshman team.
All of the awards are voted on by Pac-10 coaches, who can’t vote for themselves or their players.
“It works itself out when you are a true team,” Romar said of winning honors. “It always happens that way.”
Romar was rewarded for leading UW to a 24-7 regular-season record, 14-4 in Pac-10 play, capturing the school’s first outright conference title since 1953. The Huskies, ranked No. 13 nationally this week, had been picked to finish fifth in the Pac-10 preseason media poll.
There had been much discussion during the season that Oregon State’s Craig Robinson might be the coaching favorite, but Washington’s late run to the title likely secured the honor for Romar.
“I didn’t know,” Romar said. “I really didn’t know.”
He joins a group of coaches to win the award multiple times, including Lute Olson (7), Mike Montgomery (4), George Raveling (3), Marv Harshman (2) and Ralph Miller (2). The award was first given in 1976, the year after John Wooden retired.
Romar said he had held out some hope that Brockman would be named player of the year. But that instead went to Arizona State’s James Harden, as most expected. Harden leads the Pac-10 in scoring at 20.5 points per game, and even Brockman said, “He’s definitely the best player in the league. I didn’t think I was going to get it.”
Brockman was named to the first team for the second time, having last year been named to the second team when there were three five-man teams instead of one 10-man first team (as was the case in 2007), or one 10-man first team and a five-man second team (the format this year).
He was expected in the preseason to earn such an honor. Dentmon was not after having been benched for most of his junior season, leaving his role in doubt. Some even wondered if he would transfer, though Dentmon says he never considered it. Instead, he dedicated himself to becoming a better player, particularly honing his shooting in anticipation of moving to shooting guard to make way for Thomas. It worked out, as Dentmon, who averaged 9.8 points last season, averaged 17.5 in conference play.
Romar said of all the awards, he was most gratified by Dentmon’s individual honor for the player’s perseverance.
“It felt good,” Dentmon said. “A blessing.”
The electrifying Thomas, who teamed with Dentmon to give UW the highest-scoring backcourt in the Pac-10, was honored as freshman of the year ahead of more-heralded classmates such as UCLA’s Jrue Holiday and USC’s DeMar DeRozan. Romar said he considered Thomas’ honor “a slam dunk.”
Said Thomas: “All along I was thinking it was going to be me, and that’s not to sound cocky or what not, just that the hard work I put in, it’s paid off.”
Romar’s only small complaint was that there was no room on the all-defensive team for guard Venoy Overton, who was an honorable mention defensive-team pick. Overton said he wasn’t offended but would keep it in mind.
“It’s just a reminder that I have to step it up a little more in the tournament,” he said.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com