It’s more than a hashtag. UW assistant Will Conroy came up with #YOUmeWe in hopes of fostering a family atmosphere that had been prevalent on his UW teams in the early 2000s. No one is suggesting UW’s resurgence is the result of a catchy phrase, but they are off to an 11-4 start.
Last August when the turnstile at the front door of the Washington men’s basketball office stopped spinning, new assistant Will Conroy, the old Husky star, had an idea.
He’d been thinking about a way to unify a disjointed team that endured an offseason unlike any other, which included seven players leaving and eight joining a program in disarray.
Then it came to him.
Washington @ Arizona, 6 p.m., Fox Sports 1
“I ran it by Coach and he said he was down for it,” Conroy said. “I know how Coach is. He’s a team guy and if it’s about team and he feels like it’s something that the team can use to come together, then he’s all for it.
“Then I took it to the guys and it just stuck.”
It’s more than a hashtag in a tweet. Conroy came up with a handshake that players use to greet each other in hopes of fostering a family atmosphere that had been prevalent on his UW teams in the early 2000s.
“When I first heard it I thought, ‘Dang, why didn’t I think of that before?’ ” freshman guard Dejounte Murray said. “It’s so simple, but it’s the truth. #YOUmeWE.
“It just shows there’s no I in team and no individual is bigger than the team.”
No one is suggesting Washington’s resurgence is the result of a catchy phrase.
However, the Huskies needed a fresh start and something to symbolize a break from the selfishness that had infected a team that finished 16-15 last season and missed the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year.
“It was a way to make sure everyone understands that for us to be successful, then it’s going to take YOU in big letters doing your part,” Conroy said. “The me is very small so we’re never focusing on the individual. And WE is big because we’re in this together as a group.”
The Huskies have taken it to heart.
Perhaps more astonishing than their 11-4 record at the midpoint of the season, and a 3-0 Pac-12 start, is how quickly a team comprised of seven freshmen in a touted recruiting class put aside personal agendas for the betterment of the team.
“College basketball is all about sacrifice and sometimes that’s a tough lesson to learn, especially when you’re young,” said Murray, who leads Pac-12 freshmen with a 15.2 scoring average and 4.6 assists. “Everybody here was probably the best player on their high-school team. Then you have to figure out that you have to play a certain role for this team.”
Washington puts its three-game winning streak on the line at 6 p.m. Thursday against No. 18 Arizona (13-3, 1-2) at McKale Center, where the Wildcats have a 47-game winning streak.
Coach Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies are 3-10 at Arizona and he’s taken far more seasoned teams into the intimidating 14,545-seat arena. Still, he’s surprisingly optimistic about UW’s chances to end a four-game losing streak against the Wildcats.
“There’s a certain belief that these guys walked in the door with,” Romar said. “A lot of them have been successful before they got here and understood how to win ballgames. That’s carried over here. There’s a great trust. Our guys get along so well.”
Romar believes close ties off the court translate into a togetherness on the floor.
Six players have led Washington in scoring. The Huskies lead the Pac-12 with a 44.5 rebound average because six players average at least four per game. And UW is tied for the league lead with 127 steals; six players have at least 14.
“Guys pull for one another,” he said. “Guys are excited for others’ success. We share the ball on the basketball court.
“I think the whole #YOUmeWE thing just embodies everything we do on the floor. It describes who we are as a team.”