Feb. 21, 2011
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - When Lorenzo Romar was coaching Pepperdine in the late 1990s, the CBS television affiliate in Los Angeles brought him into the studio to analyze that spring's NCAA tournament with a point guard from UCLA named Cameron Dollar.
"Cameron was 21 years old at the time. And I was a close to 40-year-old coach," Romar said Monday of his former Huskies assistant. "We were sitting there together in the studio breaking down the NCAA tournament, and I'm looking at Cameron (thinking), `He's doing a better job than I am! Listen to this guy!'
"He's always been wise beyond his age. When he was 18, as freshman, he was the only one who could yell at Ed O'Bannon," said Romar, a Bruins assistant through the '96 season. "No one would dare do that. Ed O'Bannon? He was the national player of the year. ... He wanted to sit in on coaches' meetings when he was in college.
"He's been wanting to do this since he was 4 years old, literally."
"This" is running his own college program. The 35-year-old Dollar is in his second season doing that at Seattle University. He says Romar's program at Washington is the model for what he wants Seattle's to become.
Protégé and mentor meet again Tuesday night. The Huskies (18-8) go across town to KeyArena to play at Seattle U. (10-16), which is in its second season of its transition to Division I. It's the first time UW is playing at Seattle U. since 1979, and it's the second game in the renewal of the city rivalry that had been dormant for 29 years.
Fox Sports Northwest will televise the 7:00 p.m. game. The Washington IMG College radio network will broadcast it. And we will again have a live game chat, statistics and streaming audio here on GoHuskies.com.
The Huskies expect more aggressiveness and, um, creativity from their former assistant coach in this second game of a five-game series between neighbors.
Last season, Dollar instructed his Redhawks to foul to slow Washington's offense by fouling. And fouling. And fouling again.
Officials called 78 personal fouls, 45 of them on Seattle, and the Huskies rolled anyway, 123-76 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Dollar tried to slow the rout by having his Redhawks hack away in the second half, and six of them fouled out. UW made 46-of-61 free throws, both school records.
"I can't even say it was slowed down," Huskies senior Justin Holiday said. "It was stopped."
Dollar chose to play the final 1:27 with four players instead of burning the redshirt of a freshman. Romar said that night he'd never been in a game when a team finished with just four players. Dollar hadn't either.
"No, but I'm different," Dollar said then. "I don't care how it looks at the end."
Holiday had Dollar as a coach during his first two seasons as a Husky. He called that night the "most awkward" game he's ever played.
"It was weird, but at the same time that's Coach Dollar," Holiday said before Monday's practice, UW's only one between Saturday's heartbreaking loss at Pac-10-leading Arizona and Tuesday's "road" game.
"We knew he was going to pull out something," said Holiday, who like many Huskies have never been inside KeyArena - even though its Seattle Center location is about 10 minutes from the UW campus.
"We'll see what he does this time."
Washington knows what it will be doing: Trying to improve its man-to-man defense and rotations on the backside, which in turn would help in its rebounding. Romar saw Arizona's 40-25 rebounding edge Saturday in Tucson as a product of players not rotating to the right places when the ball was on a side of the court. That stuff matters plenty when you lose 87-86 in the final seconds.
Romar also wants his Huskies to be sharper offensively. Though it rallied from 12 points down early in the second half at Arizona to take a short-lived, four-point lead, Washington missed on many fast-break scoring chances that also could have helped win that game.
The Huskies enter this non-conference game, then Sunday's home game against Washington State and Pac-10 finales versus UCLA and USC the following week trying to take second-place from the Bruins in the conference. That, in turn, would seemingly be enough for a return to the NCAA tournament.
ESPN's national audience Saturday night - which undoubtedly included some members of the NCAA tournament's selection committee -- got to see the most compelling and exciting game in the Pac-10 this season. The network continuously highlighted the thrilling finish into Sunday.
So even though they lost at Arizona, the Huskies may have gained a foot hold on an at-large berth into the NCAAs should they fail to win the automatic entry that comes with winning the Pac-10 tournament which begins March 9 in Los Angeles.
"That was a great college basketball game. I think when you watch those two teams playing out there, it has to cross your mind they are going to be very competitive in postseason play," Romar said of Saturday's Huskies-Wildcats classic.
"It's one thing to read about it. But to see it, I think that would impress people more."