Despite 8-9 record and 1-4 start in Pac-12, Romar cites history that shows his teams have been in worse spots and still managed to earn an NCAA tournament berth.
With the season slipping into irrelevancy and the Washington men’s basketball team spiraling toward a sixth straight year outside the NCAA tournament, Lorenzo Romar remains confident the Huskies are capable of turning things around.
“We’ve gotten better at self-realization and understanding more as to why we’re not successful,” the UW coach said. “The wins and losses don’t show it, but I think we’re recognizing a little bit more about where we don’t do as well and have a little more feel to prevent it from happening.”
Only 13 games remain in the regular season and the NCAA tournament math is working against Washington, which fell to 8-9 and 1-4 in the Pac-12 after a pair of losses last week in the Bay Area.
Basketball statistician Jeff Pomeroy projects the Huskies will finish 12-18 and 5-13.
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Meanwhile, ESPN’s NCAA tournament bracket guru Joe Lunardi projects UCLA, Oregon, Arizona and USC will represent the Pac-12 in the Big Dance.
And the chorus of Romar skeptics who want a change in leadership grows larger and louder with each setback. The criticism from fans has been a distraction at times for a young team comprised of one senior and 10 underclassmen, Romar said.
“I try to talk to them about worrying about what’s going on within our group, within our family,” he said. “At times an opinion is not in the best interest of the team internally. We got to stick with what we have within our family.
“But … that’s part of sports. You’re going to be criticized.”
Romar admits he’s probably one of the biggest optimists around.
Still, his belief in the Huskies’ ability to salvage the season is rooted in history — albeit what might seem like ancient history to some UW fans.
Starting 1-4 in the Pac-12 is never good — in fact it’s terrible — but Romar has been through worse during his 15 years at UW.
In 2003-04, the Huskies lost at home by 24 to cross-state rival Gonzaga during a three-game losing streak that included nonconference defeats at Wyoming and Houston.
Then the bottom seemingly fell out of the season as UW began conference play with five straight losses and fell to 5-8 overall.
“People said Nate Robinson was too erratic and he was too small,” Romar said. “Brandon Roy, they said, didn’t play hard and he was overrated. There was no one that people thought, well they got these guys so they’re going to turn it around.”
The Huskies did turn it around. They finished the regular season winning 12 of the next 13 games. Washington then picked up a pair of wins in the conference tournament and made its first trip with Romar to the NCAA tournament.
“If it wasn’t for people being tired of hearing about it, I would talk about it all the time,” Romar said. “It’s not just that. … When I was in St. Louis, we (finished) in eighth place and we won four games in four straight days and we beat Cincinnati, which was No. 1 in the country.
“So I’ve been there. I didn’t read a book about it. We’ve lived it. So when I say, there’s still time and we can get this turned around, I really believe it because we’ve done it. It’s not just coach speak”
Of course, he would have preferred if the Huskies hadn’t dug themselves so big of hole, leaving little margin for error.
Washington is 10th in the Pac-12, just one game ahead of Colorado (10-8, 0-5) and Oregon State (4-14, 0-5).
The Huskies demolished the Beavers 87-61 two weeks ago and hope to repeat that rare stellar performance at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Alaska Airlines Arena against the Pac-12’s other winless team.
However, beating the Buffaloes could prove troublesome considering they’re potentially better than their record suggests.
Colorado, which was picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 media poll, started conference action with three road games and played three (No. 3 UCLA, No. 14 Arizona and then-No. 25 USC) of the four Pac-12 teams with the most wins.
“My guess is there’s not a team in the country that’s 0-5 that’s as good as Colorado,” Romar said. “They’ve played some really tough teams.”