BY Art Thiel 11:15PM 12/07/2016

Zags-Huskies series renews: Nothing changes

The game was over in five minutes after the Bulldogs took a 21-4 lead, but the back-of-the-hand moment in the renewal of the Gonzaga-Washington men’s basketball series Wednesday night came later in the first half. After a made Huskies basket, 300-pound Polish center Przemek Karnowski beat the entire UW team down the floor for a dunk, a foul and a free throw.

Of such miserable efforts are 98-71 (box) defeats made.

In front of the usual sellout at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, the eighth-ranked Zags won for the 10th time in the past 11 meetings with the Huskies, calling into question why many hoops fans in the state insisted on the series’ renewal.

But coach Lorenzo Romar, despite the wire-to-wire humiliation, tried to find some optimism.

“I really feel our team,  in spite of tonight, has made some improvements,” he said, “that will be seen over the over our seven-game homestand coming up.”

None of that was visible Wednesday. Completely overmatched, the Huskies (4-4)  at halftime were down 47-22, having had no assists and no three-pointers. They shot 20 percent from the field, and their defense was worse.

The Huskies actually had a 54-42 rebounding edge, but that was because they had so many misses of the own errant shots; they won the offensive glass 29-11. That didn’t stop them from falling behind by as many as 34 before Zags coach Mark Few began resting starters.

“You can’t make a mistake against them; they’re a well-oiled machine,” Romar said.  “They’re experienced and play well so well together. A really, really good team.”

Twisting the rivalry knife, Nigel Williams-Goss, who played his first two seasons at Washington before transferring, led the Zags (9-0) with a season-high 23 points, five rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes. A prized Romar recruit, Williams-Goss left out of frustration with the UW’s mediocre play and preparation. Little has changed in his absence.

“He’s a good basketball player and makes a difference for their team,” Romar said. “He runs their team better than anyone.”

Highly regarded freshman Markelle Fultz led Washington with 25 points, but many came late. He was 10-for-26 from the floor and had 10 rebounds but, tellingly, he had one assist. The Huskies had only seven assists for their 24 field goals. Teammate Noah Dickerson had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The Huskies and Zags ended a nine-year snit — Few and Romar don’t much care for one another — last year when the teams met in a tournament in the Bahamas, the Zags prevailing 80-64. The Huskies’ last win in the series, which is contracted to run for three more seasons, came at home in 2005 — they haven’t won in Spokane since 1944 — and the Huskies called off the series in 2006.

Gonzaga has reached the NCAA tournament every year since 1999, and the Huskies have whiffed five years in a row. Little evidence was presented last night to suggest change was imminent.


Washington hosts Nevada at 5 p.m. Sunday (Pac-12 Networks).



  • 1coolguy

    Hey JENN – You watching this crap??? Romar begs out of playing Gonzago for 10 years because he was tired of getting whupped each game, then mans up and reschedules them and it’s more of the same. Hey Romar – it isn’t about recruiting a bunch of 5 star one-and-doners and it hasn’t been for 15 years – wake up man! Gonzaga is the template, not that failed, miserable “plan” you have put on the floor. Yes, to use the overused term, this really is insanity, as try as he might, nothing changes.
    Another season I won’t be buying any game tickets. Oh well, Romar was the only coaching staff mistake of Woodward’s tenure – he should have replaced him BEFORE leaving so as to not dump him on Jenn’s desk. The many MILLIONS of dollars the UW has lost while Romar has been coach is incalculable – lost ticket sales are huge, therefore lost ticket price increases, lesser media revenue, less tournament revenue, etc, etc. When Woodward was here, I just figured Romar must have the film negatives as leverage – surely he has none on Jenn.
    In closing – Romar, PLEASE introduce your team to DEFENSE – it really is what wins championships, or haven’t you gotten to that chapter?

    • Daniel Luechtefeld

      Have you forgotten that Romar was the man who made Husky hoops relevant? Gave us its greatest run in Husky history? And that he did it with defense, and fast-break points off forced turnovers? Robinson, Roy, Brockman, Thomas. The game may have passed him by somehow, but if we must show him the door he deserves to leave with some gratitude.

      • 1coolguy

        Frankly, my memory is only so good and those years are so long ago it’s WAY past time to live off those years. Let’s put this in better perspective: The NCAA tournament has 68 teams, so by definition the next best team is SIXTY-NINTH (69)! The Dawgs have not made the tourney since 2011, so we have been, at BEST, the countries’ 69th ranked team in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and probably 2016.
        Romar is a very good guy, that has been well documented, so perhaps he should be an assistant coach somewhere. I’m sure with his recruiting prowess, he would be picked up immediately as a head asst coach. But just like with Lambright, a SUPERIOR DC, some people are simply not cut out to be the head coach. There are no, zip, zero indicators this season will be any different from the past four – if you are good with a POSSIBLE NIT invitation as the measure of success, then so be it. I prefer to be where MOST of the other Husky programs are, in the top 25 on a consistent basis. Mens and women’s golf, volleyball, mens and womens crew, softball, baseball and now football. Basketball should be judged alike and the expectations should be at the same, high level also.

        • art thiel

          Romar benefited from lots of senior leadership before the 2006 rules change that allowed one-and-dones. But he can’t go backward. Seniors are rare species, and if they remain, they aren’t that good (Andrew Andrews).

          • wabubba67

            Actually, I would take 4-7 more players just like Andrews. He was solid and smart (if not spectacular) as an upperclassman…just needed much more help. It’s very disconcerting that the UW would lose a player like Williams-Goss due to the program’s preparation (a.k.a. coaching).

        • art thiel

          Sorry to hear about your memory. Romar had the team in the tourney six times in eight years through 2011, and in 2012 the Huskies were regular season champions.

          • WestCoastBias79

            They were regular season champions of a just atrocious Pac 12, and couldn’t even beat a terrible Oregon State (9 seed) team in Pac 12 tourney. They win that game, they’re in. It was a classic Romar. At the time I recall being enraged that Southern Alaska was once again slighted, but with time tempering emotion, a team unable to beat the 9th place team in the Pac 12 tournament when it’s known it was a must win, is not a team deserving a bid. Although one of those Romar Sweet 16 runs would have been fun.

      • art thiel

        Sound it happen, gratitude will abound. But five years without a tourney berth stretches patience to the limits.

        • 1coolguy

          Actually the limits have not been shattered, they’ve been nuked.
          With Gonzaga having figured out the system since the 2006 rule change, wouldn’t you think through pure osmosis that system would sink into Romar’s brain, or do the Cascades block sound thought?

          • WestCoastBias79

            In fairness, Gonzaga plays in the WCC, they pretty much default into the tourney if they just remain mediocre. A few of their teams that washed out in the round of 64 or 32 wouldn’t have made it if they played in a power 5 conference.

            Also, I think Romar does get it, he usually has some quality guys sticking around for four years (Andrew Andrews, CJ Wilcox), and augments that core with one/two and dones (Wroten, Chriss etc.). Gonzaga does the same thing (Sabonis). The problems is the dude can’t coach. The easiest thing and most elementary thing a coach can do is diagram an inbounds play. Watch UW inbound the ball. That’s all you need to know.

    • art thiel

      The rev losses from men’s hoops are small enough to not be a serious factor. TV revs are the driver, and are unaffected by losses. Paying him not to coach is a much bigger deal.

      Nobody knows the value of defense more than Romar. It’s a matter of convincing kids to sacrifice for it.

      • 1coolguy

        Well, after 15 years of not coaching D into the program, therefore there has been no change here, how much more rope do you give the guy? I say he’s asst coach material and the Dawgs need to quit being the 69th+ best NCAA BB team. What say you?

  • rosetta_stoned

    Congratulations for those who stuck around to watch the second half. I certainly didn’t.

    • art thiel

      They closed to 22, so you missed that.

  • WestCoastBias79

    I know this is unprecedented in college ball, but can they keep Romar on as a kind of GM, the guy in charge of getting the talent, and actually hire a guy who can coach? He can recruit, but watching Romar coached teams is painful. I have a soft spot for Romar because historically, he’s had the most success since Harshman, but western Washington has become too much of a high school hoops hotbed to not expect UW to be a perennial tourney player. He is what he is, they need to move on (or make him GM). The amount of talent to roll through the UW hoops program without success is astounding. Last season was the SECOND time UW had TWO first round picks and failed to make the tourney in five years. This year, they have the best point guard in the country. It’s baffling.

    • art thiel

      Nice try on the suggestion, but men’s basketball is overstaffed already. And I understand your reluctance to throw away a good man. But a game like that makes his defenders nearly weapons-less.

      He said we’ll see improvements in the homestand. Have to see him through to the end of the season.

      • 1coolguy

        What’s his buyout? As I recall Woodward gave him a lengthy extension (2020?), but possibly the buyout is reasonable.
        As to your post, it’s not baffling: The guy is a great recruiter, lousy coach. Simple.

        • art thiel

          I believe it’s $3.2 million for this season.

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  • Husky73

    When (not if) Romar is gently sent to pasture (sadly), all roads will lead to Mark Few.