Nov. 4, 2003
Men's Basketball Kick-off Press Conference
November 4, 2003
Head Coach Lorenzo Romar General Comments: "Hello to everyone and welcome. We've been anxious to get this thing going in terms of our season. If it were a video game we would have started it in April. As soon as our season ended we would have started over and got after it right away because we couldn't wait to get going. Our guys have been very good in terms of working, being passionate about things we're trying to get accomplished this year. I think this group really demonstrates what 'team' is all about. So far, three weeks into practice, I've never had a team that moves the ball the way that this team moves the ball in practice and has shared the ball. This is something that pleases us coaches. We start Saturday with our exhibition game. At this point we are not sure who will be the starting five. I'm almost positive that whoever starts this game Saturday probably won't be the starting five of our first game. This year could be a year where there are a half dozen or a dozen different starting line-ups throughout the year. We are a team that has a lot of different options. Practices have been competitive at each position, it is very close, which is a good thing."
On Tre Simmons: "Tre has not shot the ball consistently well at this point. Right now, Tre is learning a lot, there's a lot of things being thrown at him. Freshman, Junior College players, Transfers, at this point in the year are doing a lot more thinking than playing on instinct. Tre is just now starting to figure out what we want. There's no doubt that he's a very good basketball player. No doubt that he will help us and have an impact on our season in a powerful way."
On Hakeem Rollins: "Hakeem is trying to figure out exactly what we're doing consistently. As of late, he's started to do more of what we recruited him to do here on the basketball floor. He's been one of our consistent rebounders throughout our early practices. He's demonstrating a little bit more as of late the ability to score the ball."
On different line-up possibilities: "We could go out on the floor with a bigger line-up, I don't mean seven foot line-up, Anthony Washington's about 6'8", Mike Jensen's about 6'8", Zane's in there, Bobby Jones is 6'7", Brandon Roy is 6'6", Tre Simmons is 6'5". You could go with a group that way or you could go with two smaller guards and go with a Simmons at another wing position. You could go with Bobby Jones at one of the big spots. We could go on and on with different combinations and we feel at this point all of them would be reasonably successful. We have to figure out as a staff which would be most successful. We always want to go with the five players that make the best team at all times."
On Nate Robinson: "He's a little more sleekly built, more of a sleek rock. He's put together as we all know. He runs and runs and runs. He's shooting the ball significantly better than last year and that's no surprise because he spent a lot of time shooting the basketball. But he also conceptually understands what we're trying to do as a group which is going to help him even more and help our team."
On Brandon Roy: "The last four games Brandon Roy was averaging right around 14 points a game and close to 6 rebounds a game in the last four games of Pac-10 competition and we don't think he's going to take a step back from there. We think he'll continue to pick up where he left off before he was injured in our last game vs. UCLA. In fact in that game he was having quite a game before he was injured, offensively he was just starting to get going. He will be one of our top scorers if not our top scorers. He's a guy that people who don't know him will be pleasantly surprised at the type of player he is."
On strengths of new players: "A little bit of everything. Tre Simmons brings offensive punch, he brings overall ballhandling skills. He's a skilled basketball player. Hakeem Rollins brings strength to the table. He's maybe the strongest guy on our team. Hans Gasser is another body that has size that can really shoot the ball. Hans is a very smart basketball player. It's interesting you can put him with any other four guys, whether they're quick running guys or slower guys and he adapts and plays with each one of them. He's easy to play with. It doesn't matter what combination of players he plays with, he finds a way not only to be effective himself but also help those other guys."
On Bobby Jones' shooting: "If you come to all our practices and watch him shoot the basketball you'd think he was a really, really good shooter. I don't say that to say he's not a really good shooter but he didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the perimeter last season but he spent a lot of time in the offseason working on his shot and he's been shooting the ball really really well. He gets the ball with his feet square and we think the ball's going in the basket every time."
On who made the biggest change in their game: "I'd say in their game maybe Curtis Allen. We all know how quick and fast he is, we know he can shoot the basketball. But his decision making has been much improved since we started. He has the best turnover-assist ratio of anyone on our team right now. So he's probably made the biggest change in terms of his game. I want to say physique-wise but he was only about 100 pounds before and now he's about 115, but he has gotten a little stronger during the offseason. When you see Mike Jensen right away you'll think 'wow, he spent some time in the weight room as well.' So his body looks better. His name hasn't come up but Mike's playing much stronger, playing with a lot of confidence this year and he's done well in these last three weeks."
On Anthony Washington's condition: "He had surgery in the end of May and had to sit out for quite some time and then began in late July starting to do things out on the floor and being on that foot a little more to where now he's practicing every day. If he goes on consecutive days there are times we have to pull him. But initially when we began practices he couldn't put two or three straight days together because the foot would get sore from the surgery. But he's getting better every day."
On having a full roster from the start of practice: "It's been interesting this year to have 16 guys practicing. We're able to do shooting drills, any drills that we want to do, we're able to go as long as we like because we have a full complement of players this year. We didn't have that this year. That's been very, very helpful for us."
On team depth: "There's no way that someone can average 35 minutes a game for us this year. It's just going to be too difficult because the way we want to play is going to be so demanding on our guys. If one guy slips up and he's not running the floor or he's not picking up early in the press or defending the way we want him to defend we're going to have to give him a rest and give someone who's fresh an opportunity to go in there and do it. We feel at this point that we have the depth and the personnel to play up-tempo basketball and we feel that we don't drop off very much, if at all, when we go to the bench. You can be in a situation sometimes where you have a lot of depth but you have four, five guys that aren't really productive and none of them really stands out when they get their opportunity. In practice one day one guy's good, another day another guy's good. No one really grabs ahold of that position. It appears that you have depth but you really don't. You drop off and you have five guys who aren't doing anything. This year, so far, that has not been the case. There have been a lot of guys that have been productive."
On Will Conroy: "You can never count Will Conroy out for taking his game anywhere. Because he loves the game so much, he has such a passion for the game. He's always working to improve his game and you've got to take your hat off to a guy like that. Will he improve as much as last year? Who knows. He certainly is a guy that has a lot of heart. We went through some games last year where there were times he almost single-handedly kept us in games and brought us back in different situations. That was his sophomore year and now he's more experienced. He played a lot of minutes last year so there's no telling what Will's capable of doing. We feel our guards are as strong as anywhere in the conference."
On Washington's size: "I don't think our staff feels like we have a height deficiency. We feel that our big players are quick and agile and mobile and are strong. We feel our guys are strong enough to defend or neutralize another strong center from another team but yet we feel we have the quickness and mobility to defend that position. The Pac-10 is interesting. There's not a whole lot of big time 7-footers in this league. The best big guy last year was Ike Diogu from Arizona State who's 6'7". Channing Frye from Arizona will be really good, he's close to 7 feet. But we don't feel we have a height deficiency that will not allow us to play at a high level."
On potential to be competitive: "I see us as a team that literally can compete with any team in the conference. Whether that translates into a top 5 team, top 3 or top 7, I don't know. And I don't mean on any given night to say that if everything is clicking we can beat or be competitive with teams. I mean that if we go out and play the way we're capable of playing for the most part, I don't see any team that we can't be competitive with."
On Washington being overlooked: "Hopefully people that support our program and the fans and students don't overlook us and they're excited to come out. But the magazines and those types, I hope they overlook us. Keep it, as the kids say, on the 'down low'. Let them think we're not very good. We'll see what happens."
On Washington's tempo of play: "We're going to approach this where rarely are we going to sit back and allow the other team to dictate the tempo. We want to force the tempo offensively and defensively, we will press, we will push the basketball. We want to play at a quick pace but at the same time making sure we have pretty good shot selection and we're taking care of the basketball."
On knowing expectations this year: "We have a lot of new guys but it seems like the guys that are returning have already told the new guys what to expect. Our old guys definitely know what to expect more from us. Just our style and what we expect from them and that's very important. Again, we're much more familiar with our personnel this year than we were last year. I think that makes a big difference. I don't want to have my violin on our shoulder but again to recap some of the things that happened to us last year: Nate (Robinson) and Brandon (Roy) join us late. When they do join us they're not sure exactly what we're doing offensively and defensively and neither one are in basketball condition. Anthony Washington and Mike Jensen didn't even play basketball the year before, let alone college basketball. Those ended up being four of our starters that we were counting on to play. We had some difficulties where players weren't with us and they were in and out during the year due to injuries or academics. This year so far we've got everyone here. Everyone's been to every practice. Everyone's been able to compete in just about every practice. So this year because of those things we're a little further along than we were last year."
On Jamaal Williams: "Jamal is about a 6'5" 230 pound forward who can really score the ball. Obviously he has to sit out this year due to the transfer rule, he has to redshirt. But already in practice he has demonstrated ability to put the ball in the basket. Just Saturday we had an intersquad scrimmage and he scored 24 points. And he didn't do it on 24 shots. He was pretty efficient with the basketball in his hands. He's also a very good rebounder."
On where the team is at: "We're not where we need to be on the defense, or the offense either. But it's only the third week. We've got time. Like we told our team, are we ready to go out and win the Pac-10 today? No, we've got some work to do but for where we are right now we're pleased with how our guys have responded to what we've told them to do. I just think we've got a team of guys who are committed to buying into the team concept. I think we've got some guys who tasted just a little bit of success at times last year and they want to know what that's like for an entire year. I think we've got some guys that are hungry to win, they're willing to put personal stardom aside for the sake of the team which is one of the hardest things to do in the game of basketball."
On expecting to win: "When we played Arizona here last year and lost in overtime, there wasn't a look in the locker room like 'we almost beat the number 2 team in the country, can you believe that?' That wasn't the look. Guys were ticked. The look was 'tonight we were better than them. We should have won that game.' And that's kind of the attitude our team is going into the year with."
On Pac-10 outlook: "It would not surprise me at all if Stanford won the league this year. But Arizona would probably be my pick. But Stanford's going to be very good. There's a lot of teams that you just can't count out. People think Arizona State will be down this year because they lost five seniors, they're going to be a good ball club. It is going to be a competitive conference this year, it will be very unpredictable."