BY Art Thiel 03:44PM 06/29/2012

Thiel: Wroten’s play won’t be missed much

His no-look passes were really look-at-me passes, part of why the Huskies privately are OK with Tony Wroten moving on to the NBA after one season.

Tony Wroten was mostly a guy on his own for his single season at Washington. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

As much satisfaction as Huskies fans had in seeing Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten have the dream of their lives by being draft into the NBA Thursday, was I the only one wondering whether it was some sort of a record to have two first-rounders from a team that didn’t make the NCAA tourney?

Unsurprisingly, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar was a little touchy on the matter.

“I think we should have made it,” he said on a conference call from New York, where he attended the draft. “The (tourney selection committee) criteria said we didn’t have the numbers, but I think we were better than a lot of the teams in the tourney.

“We were a young team that started slowly and won 24 games, finished the conference 14-4. We were young and inconsistent. Other young, inconsistent teams have been able to slip into the tourney.”

That’s probably true, but the counter-argument is that most every team in the era of one-and-done is young and inconsistent. Program churn is a fact of life in big-time college ball.

It’s also true Washington’s tourney chances were hurt by being part of the Pac-12,  the worst conference since the North Korea Rocket-Science Society. Romar would never acknowledge that publicly, either.

Those two factors helped combine for the biggest demerit on the Washington tourney resume: Lack of a signature win.

The Huskies did, however, have several signature losses, including their last two: the first-round loss in the Pac-12 postseason tourney to Oregon State, and the season closer, a 68-67 overtime loss to Minnesota in the semifinals of the NIT.

In both games, Wroten was not much help. In fact, for the start of the second half in New York, in which the Huskies trailed 38-26, Romar benched the Pac-12 freshman of the year, who finished with nine points, missing 12 of 16 shots and absent a single assist.

Washington nearly pulled off an improbable comeback. Romar made a telling point afterward.

“In the second half,” he said, “I thought we were a team.”

So 35 games after they began, the Huskies finally were a team. As much as anything, that disjointed development was why they weren’t tourney-worthy. While it’s unfair to lay blame on a single player for UW’s inability to coalesce, it is reasonable to say that the more Wroten came to dominate a game, the less effective Washington was as a team.

Which is why, privately, Romar is glad to see Wroten move on. Not because he’s a bad guy or won’t be a solid pro. But because for Romar’s purposes at Washington, less of Wroten will be more.

Of course, Romar will never say anything like that publicly. But a lot of others around the program would speak to the point for him. Including me. In watching the TV highlights that followed Wroten’s selection by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 25th pick, I was reminded again of my game-action tell-tale for the me-first ballplayer: The artificial no-look pass.

Hate it. The ballhandler comes down on a fast break, passes to a teammate and an instant later snaps his head away to feign the no-look. Fans think it’s cool, but it’s all for show.

That kind of no-look pass is really a look-at-me pass. It has been a Wroten trademark. The pro game may well beat it out of him, along with other aspects of his immaturity. If that happens, look out. Wroten could become the best 25th pick in NBA history.

Isn’t showboating really a small thing? Sure. But the Huskies wouldn’t have needed more than a couple of small things to go their way to get into the NCAA field. Like maybe a couple of more free throws from a 58 percenter, or one more threes from a guy who made 9 of 56 for the season.  Or a completed pass to a teammate instead of a mustard-covered turnover. Small things.

When asked about Wroten’s selection, Romar said, “Tony took a lot of criticism this year, and he was a first-round raft pick. It was a difficult decision (to turn pro) and I’m really happy for him.”

Far as I know, those four statements are true, true, true and true. But the truth is, Wroten made a good decision for himself, his college coach and teammates in ways that won’t be spoken.


YourThoughts

  • Tim

    Yep, right on!  This would have been a much better (and more active) place to hone those skills. 

  • Tim

    Yep, right on!  This would have been a much better (and more active) place to hone those skills. 

  • jafabian

    I agree that the Huskies should have made the NCAA tourney, but the fact that they didn’t lies with the team and not the NCAA.  In fact, IMO they should have won the NIT.  I wonder if what Calipari accomplished this season with such a young roster puts more pressure on other coaches in Division I?  Especially when you have success in recruiting quality players like what Romar usually has?

    • Artthiel

      Calipari’s factory is unsurpassed, and I don’t think Romar or most  Washington fans would care to emulate. The pressure on D-1 coaches goes up a little bit every year, as the money grows. I’d rather be a spokesman for the tobacco for tots campaign than a D-1 hoops or fb coach.

  • jafabian

    I agree that the Huskies should have made the NCAA tourney, but the fact that they didn’t lies with the team and not the NCAA.  In fact, IMO they should have won the NIT.  I wonder if what Calipari accomplished this season with such a young roster puts more pressure on other coaches in Division I?  Especially when you have success in recruiting quality players like what Romar usually has?

    • Artthiel

      Calipari’s factory is unsurpassed, and I don’t think Romar or most  Washington fans would care to emulate. The pressure on D-1 coaches goes up a little bit every year, as the money grows. I’d rather be a spokesman for the tobacco for tots campaign than a D-1 hoops or fb coach.

  • MyUghMy

    UW basketball is just a sad extension of the NBA. No team, no fundamentals no real fan outcry for more than we have been given. Just look at Wroten and how he used the UW to catapul himself to a high paying job. My main case in point is that mind bending over the head no look baseline shot(?) that screamed “look at me and draft me”. UW basketball is hard to watch and the fans lapping up mediocrity at best play is a huge part of the problem. Of course I lay all the blame on Romar but in Seattle just uttering this may get me purple hazed.

    • Artthiel

       I have no problem with players using college ball to further themselves, because college ball typically will use them and not care about consequences.

       Romar isn’t a perfect coach, but neither is Roy Williams. Romar has had as much sustained success as anyone in UW history as well as among his Pac-12 contemporaries. Something tells me that if Scott Suggs had been healthy, the year would have worked out much better, because he would have been a better contributor than Wroten — not a better player, a better contributor.

    • GS

      You’re being very unfair to Romar. Throughout his tenure at UW he’s managed to get some great players to buy into his system and his philosophy, and play team ball. I’ve been watching the Huskies for a long time now, and most years they play unselfishly and together, without necessarily sacrificing individual players’ talent. This is especially apparent on defense, which in Romar’s system is entirely dependent on team play: his aggressive front-and-help approach requires all players to be aware of their teammates and opponents, help quickly, and trust their teammates to do the same.

      Admittedly, last season was an aberration, mostly because there were so many new players. Wroten did nothing to help, too: he’s a pretty selfish player on both sides of the ball, regardless of his flashy passes and steals. However, don’t let that make you forget his past achievements.

  • MyUghMy

    UW basketball is just a sad extension of the NBA. No team, no fundamentals no real fan outcry for more than we have been given. Just look at Wroten and how he used the UW to catapul himself to a high paying job. My main case in point is that mind bending over the head no look baseline shot(?) that screamed “look at me and draft me”. UW basketball is hard to watch and the fans lapping up mediocrity at best play is a huge part of the problem. Of course I lay all the blame on Romar but in Seattle just uttering this may get me purple hazed.

    • Artthiel

       I have no problem with players using college ball to further themselves, because college ball typically will use them and not care about consequences.

       Romar isn’t a perfect coach, but neither is Roy Williams. Romar has had as much sustained success as anyone in UW history as well as among his Pac-12 contemporaries. Something tells me that if Scott Suggs had been healthy, the year would have worked out much better, because he would have been a better contributor than Wroten — not a better player, a better contributor.

    • GS

      You’re being very unfair to Romar. Throughout his tenure at UW he’s managed to get some great players to buy into his system and his philosophy, and play team ball. I’ve been watching the Huskies for a long time now, and most years they play unselfishly and together, without necessarily sacrificing individual players’ talent. This is especially apparent on defense, which in Romar’s system is entirely dependent on team play: his aggressive front-and-help approach requires all players to be aware of their teammates and opponents, help quickly, and trust their teammates to do the same.

      Admittedly, last season was an aberration, mostly because there were so many new players. Wroten did nothing to help, too: he’s a pretty selfish player on both sides of the ball, regardless of his flashy passes and steals. However, don’t let that make you forget his past achievements.

  • RadioGuy

    You pretty much nailed it, Art.  Wroten is a genuine talent but he’s ALWAYS been about himself…from transferring to Garfield from Renton (guess those “friendships” he had with classmates in Renton weren’t worth much) to bogus Spanish classes to his one-and-done year at the UW that was basically a 3-4 month showcase for the NBA.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Lionel Hollins is as much of a marshmallow as Lorenzo Romar because I don’t think Tony’s ever had a coach that didn’t kiss his coattails or expected him to play for his team instead of playing for a future paycheck.  Darnell Gant will be missed a LOT more than Tony because Darnell was about the team.

    • Artthiel

      I don’t think Romar was a marshmallow. It’s a fine line drawing out an immature but immensely talented kid. The Huskies desperately needed his playmaking because aside from Ross, they were ordinary even in a sub-ordinary Pac-12. If Romar were really soft, he would have started him with the season opener, and wouldn’t have benched him to start the second half in NY in the NIT semis.

  • RadioGuy

    You pretty much nailed it, Art.  Wroten is a genuine talent but he’s ALWAYS been about himself…from transferring to Garfield from Renton (guess those “friendships” he had with classmates in Renton weren’t worth much) to bogus Spanish classes to his one-and-done year at the UW that was basically a 3-4 month showcase for the NBA.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Lionel Hollins is as much of a marshmallow as Lorenzo Romar because I don’t think Tony’s ever had a coach that didn’t kiss his coattails or expected him to play for his team instead of playing for a future paycheck.  Darnell Gant will be missed a LOT more than Tony because Darnell was about the team.

    • Artthiel

      I don’t think Romar was a marshmallow. It’s a fine line drawing out an immature but immensely talented kid. The Huskies desperately needed his playmaking because aside from Ross, they were ordinary even in a sub-ordinary Pac-12. If Romar were really soft, he would have started him with the season opener, and wouldn’t have benched him to start the second half in NY in the NIT semis.