BY Todd Dybas 10:44AM 03/24/2011

Expectations are up, results should be for Huskies

Romar’s program on the right path toward NCAA upper tier.

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar is still working toward the biggest breakthrough for the Huskies' basketball program / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

It would be fair for Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar to go into his bad-call tantrum arsenal in response to postseason rumblings.

He could hear, “Why don’t they run more plays?” and respond with hands on his hips, suit coat blasted back, and indignant visage.

He could hear, “When are they going to get past the Sweet 16?” and go to the fist throw, half twirl that usually doesn’t show until a dubious call during Pac-10 play.

He could hear, “When will these guys win something?” and go to the double-foot stomp, the pinnacle of Romar’s demonstrative disagreements with a referee.

Or simply, he could respond by asking the depth of memory belonging to the questioner.

That person must not recall the women’s team giving the men’s a run in attendance numbers not long ago. The lack of recruits. The lack of buzz. The losing.

From 2000-2003, the Huskies were an abomination. Bob Bender’s final three years combined with Romar’s first produced 41 wins. Washington won 48 games total the following two years. Things were fixed, and fixed fast.

To dismiss what Romar has already done by lamenting what he has not is short-sighted and lacks comprehensive thought, though that’s how discussion often operates.

The construction of mystique is an ongoing process that does not come without high-end and prolonged winning. Few, like Kentucky, Indiana, UCLA and last Sunday’s opponent, North Carolina, can claim that prominent position that comes with winning legacy in college basketball.

This is Washington. It has just one Final Four appearance that came almost 60 years ago. Just two retired jerseys. Just now a program developing panache.

The criticism that the program has peaked under this coach, this good recruiter who can’t drag his charges past the mid-level of success, is another indicator of success. The selfish immediacy demanded in sports only escalates when something is actually being done.

“Hopefully, what we’re doing, is building blocks,” Romar said. “Get to the next step. We hadn’t won a Pac-10 championship in 50 years. We just won one a couple years ago. It takes a little time.

“We’re looking to have that breakthrough. That will at that point, put you on another (tier). I do understand this about sports: When we’re on that breakthrough and we’re on that next tier, whatever that is, there will come a point when, ‘Why can’t you get to this next tier? What’s wrong?’ Then if you do that, if you ever get to a point that you’re on that tier with those biggies, we’ll see if you can stay there. It’s all relative; (a) never-ending quest to become the best that you can be.”

He’ll hear your criticism, too, though he won’t listen much to it. Can’t really. If Romar or any other coach spent his time tallying fan grousing or reporter sideswipes then program progress would be hindered.

“I understand the criticism, but what the criticism is basically saying is, ‘It doesn’t matter you won a Pac-10 championship and (three) conference (tournament) championships and been to three Sweet 16s,” Romar said. “That means nothing because we have higher aspirations. Well, we had higher aspirations this year, and everyone in the country has higher aspirations. But I don’t know if it’s fair if what you’re talking about, the criticism, is that we blow our program up because we haven’t done that yet. I think we’ve made a lot of progress here.”

At this point, Washington is just missing the secondary tier. The Michigan State, Georgetown, Syracuse, UConn pack that settles just below the graybeard programs that have been pulling rank since the peach basket. Last year’s recruiting was indicative of that. Enes Kanter, so close. Terrence Jones, so close. Other theoretical can’t-miss kids gave Washington strong consideration this year, then chose otherwise.

This season also exemplified the almost. The 11 losses came by the minuscule total of 55 points. Not once was Washington blown out. A punishing duality that proves the depth and talent of that roster, yet also it’s inability to manage the game during its most crucial moments.

But Romar is a congenial operator. Even when the team is somewhere other than campus, Hawaii or Charlotte, he’s shaking hands and kissing babies. Random people call to him from the stands. He can barely make it back to private areas without numerous sidetracks, and even that trek isn’t solo.

His grit from Compton is buoyed by his gameday tailored threads. It’s a range that helps him recruit funds and fleet feet, plus manage voluminous player egos. That ability is a reason to expect more from Washington basketball in coming years. It’s time for the next step.

“I think, when we first got here, my press conference, the first thing I said was, ‘Don’t tell me we can’t get to the Final Four.’ And I think people viewed those comments as, ‘That sounds good, but come on, man. Washington doesn’t get there,’ ” Romar said. “I would guess from 10 years ago, we probably would’ve exceeded the expectations then for what people would’ve had for us.”

Not anymore.


  • Cruddly

    I don’t know what you guys were expecting this year.  I guess that fluke playoff run last year raised everyone’s expectations — everyone except Carrol and Schneider, they knew better and blew up the roster.  Since then we have seen great improvement in many positions, except the most crucial, quarterback.  And this huge flaw could eventually bring this franchise down if something isn’t done about it. 
    That huge problem aside, I love seeing the Seahawks finally emphasizing  defense and giving  the 12th man something to make some noise about. There is just something cool about having a team known for its defense, even in this age of the elite quarterbacks.
    Nobody likes losing, but to suddenly accuse this franchise of going in the wrong direction is just short sighted.  Everyone agrees that even the much maligned and rookie laden offensive line showed improvement in the losing effort against Dallas by not giving up a sack, and by allowing Lynch to run for over 100 yards.  
    Okay, so they aren’t going to the Super Bowl this year.  Relax, the Mariners are just around the corner.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure why the total number of transactions is such a “go to” line for pundits. Who cares really? Sure, Seattle is one of the worst teams in the league. But Hawk_Eye and Cruddly hit the nail on the head by basically responding with, well, duh! That’s kinda what happens in year 2 of a complete rebuild. The question worth writing about is whether Schneider and Carroll are building the team the right way.

    The vast majority of Schneider’s transactions have been to raise the baseline level of talent–the talent at the bottom of the roster. Our defensive ends used to be Lawrence Jackson and Darryl Tapp, backed up by Jason Babin. Now our ends are Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, backed up by Raheem Brock. In terms of performance relative to price I’d say we made out rather well. LoJack and Tapp have done nothing. Babin has been a revelation now that he’s in a scheme with no run responsibility, but I’d say he’s offset by what we’ve found in Bryant (who is playing at a near Pro-Bowl level).

    As for Jackson/Whitehurst, they couldn’t have made it more obvious that they’re both “Mr. Right Now” unless they hung a sign around them with those words. Right now, I’d rather have TJax doing no worse than Kevin Kolb for what Arizona paid. 

  • zippy

    right on for the offense- bu why does every story ignore significant progress on the defense– half the game, right?
    they find an elite slinger in the draft (seahawks have never had one) and they are right back in the mix. There likley is a franchise QB somewhere in the draft other than Luck- the trick is to figure out who that will be– I’m thinking Foles.

  • thxNJ7Z

    As for the roster rebuilding, I remember Sonic fans crying foul over Sam Presti’s demolition and rebuilding “the’re ruining the team on purpose so they can get out of town!” – No, they had a plan, and now the Thunder are a playoff calliber team. The Seahawks are on the same path, we will just have to wait and see if they get simmilar results. As for the coaching, young teams make mistakes, but the lack of apparent discipline is concerning.

  • Jeff Shope

    Can’t blame this mess on Ruskell anymore

  • Jeff Shope

    The vast majority of Schneider’s transactions have been to raise the baseline level of talent- dcrockett  u mean like at QB?  Trojanman and Bo Duke gave up how much again for clipboard jesus who can’t beat out Tjack who is the worst so called starter in the NFL?