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2016-17 Basketball Season Ticket Renewal
Lorenzo Romar
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Compton, Calif.
High School: Pius X
Experience: 14 Years

Media Bio

Saw Lorenzo Romar on campus the other day. That's the UW campus, by the way.

Yes, he's still here. It's the same place he played at from 1978-80. It's the same place he's been for the last decade as the creator of Washington's elite basketball program.

And it's the same place I expect him to be for as long as he's coaching.

The Huskies' engaging, hugely popular coach pumped his fist my way as he talked on his phone and stood in the sun front of Connibear Shellhouse. His usual, huge grin portrayed what I've known for years: There's no other place he'd rather be.

Not in his native Southern California. Not in the NBA. And as sure as heck not in Minnesota.

Romar's recent reiteration that Washington is his "dream job" is the third time in the last year I've heard him proclaim that. This latest time came two weeks ago, amid rumors the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves were interested in making him their new coach.

The Timberwolves had indeed called Romar -- earlier this spring, to get his opinion on college players prior to NBA draft. They never offered him their coaching job. He wasn't interested anyway.

Minnesota's query was no different than the many Romar and fellow respected, veteran coaches of big-time programs get from basketball people each offseason in advance of the draft.

Within an hour of the first internet report that the Timberwolves wanted Romar, I received a call from a former writer colleague of mine who works out of Minneapolis. He asked how valid I thought the idea was that Romar would leave UW for the Wolves.

"I don't think he'd even take the Lakers or Heat jobs, if they were offered to him," I told my Minnesota friend.

That's how ingrained Romar is at UW, and how ingrained teaching collegians is in him.

Sure enough, two weeks after the "story" broke that Rambis was out and Romar was on his way in with Minnesota, Rambis is still the Timberwolves' coach.

And Romar is still on Washington's campus, smiling in a purple `W' golf shirt.

Romar has told me and others he wants no other job, that this is home for him and his family. He's told athletic director Scott Woodward he doesn't intend to coach deep into his 60s, and he would love to retire as the Huskies' coach.

Two years into a 10-year contract extension, the 52-year old is on his way to doing just that.

"Lorenzo's not greedy," Woodward told me in March.

The little manufactured mini-drama with the Timberwolves reinforced to me - and should reinforce to you -- that Romar is perhaps the most Husky of all UW coaches.

The campus and the Seattle community have become home for him, his wife Leona and their daughters. Taylor Romar is even a cheerleader for the Huskies.

Her dad is an articulate, witty, down-to-earth, smiling ambassador for all that is Washington. He's become as much a fixture for Huskies basketball - and for Husky athletics -- as the pillars that hold up Alaska Airlines Arena.

Romar was hosting a recruit and his father one Saturday this spring. He could have done anything around town on a warm and glorious April morning. Romar took him and the dad downtown to stand on the sidelines during the Husky football team's scrimmage under the Space Needle.

When coach Steve Sarkisian has a big football recruit in town, he makes sure he has him talk to Romar. Same with UW's other coaches. Romar, Sarkisian, volleyball coach Jim McLaughlin and others also have recruits and their families meet with Woodward while on their visits. Try to find another big-time college campus where coaches are comfortable and wise enough take high school kids to see the AD.

Kevin McGuff was still days from being officially announced as Washington's new women's hoops coach in March when he was telling me on the phone from Ohio that he wanted his program at UW to mimic Romar's. From the way his teams play to the way they are respected to the way he coaches, McGuff wants to emulate Romar.

He's so into "Lo," McGuff leaned on Arizona men's basketball coach Sean Miller, a good friend who used to coach with him at Xavier, for insight on how Miller's conference rival coaches.

"I look at Lorenzo's program, which I have utmost respect for. There is a definite identity to how they play, with such aggressiveness and tenacity," McGuff told me. "That's how I want us to be."

But it's not as if the ultra-competitive Romar is comfortable with coasting on status and accomplishments here. Far from it.

He has led Washington to the last two Pac-10 tournament championships and the first outright conference regular-season title in half a century. His Huskies are now a national name making noise each March in the NCAA tournament, with three Sweet 16 trips in the last six years under Romar. He has admitted last season was the hardest one he's had at UW.

Yet he remains on a purple-and-gold quest.

The loss to North Carolina in the third round of the NCAAs 2½ months ago was as frustrating and regrettable a defeat as Romar has had at Washington. If not for multiple meltdowns that cost the Huskies the lead and the game to the shaky Tar Heels that Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., they would have been favored to advance to the Elite Eight and past a Marquette team UNC blew out days later in the Round of 16.

The loss to Carolina reinforced to Romar that for as much as he's done at Washington, there's plenty more he wants to do here.

"We've been here nine years and we've been able to get to the NCAA tournament six times. It's been good, but we're still working to have a breakthrough," he said. "We have a foundation now, to the point we know we can improve upon that."

Here something to remember the next time a pro or other college team is said to be interested in a Huskies coach: Romar's comfort at UW isn't an accident.

The forward-thinking Woodward has kept Romar content and secure with more than the 10-year contract extension at $1.7 million per season the AD gave the coach after the 2010 season. He has built into Romar's contract, and into those of many Husky coaches, a mutual review every two years.

I found out about it when I asked Woodward on the football team's plane home from a late-season victory how he would keep potential poachers at bay should they call about Sarkisian.

This mutual-review policy fosters mutual respect, as long as the teams keep winning, of course. More tangibly, it keeps coaches' salaries, wants and wish-lists as current and competitive as any in the country.

That, in turn, helps keep Romar happier and more secure at Washington than he ever would be in the NBA.

No wonder his smile is lighting up the UW campus this summer.

And it will for as many years as he wants it to.

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