With 13 years of leading the Husky basketball team under his belt, Lorenzo Romar has earned the distinction as the Pac-12 Conference’s longest tenured coach. In his time at Washington, Romar has lifted the Huskies to an elite level and unprecedented success. Romar will continue roaming the Huskies’ sidelines and building on that success for the forseeable future after signing a 10-year contract extension in April of 2010.
The Huskies are enjoying their greatest stretch of success in team history under the direction of Romar. Besides six NCAA tournament appearances, three Sweet 16’s, three Pac-10 tournament championships, two regular season Pac-10/12 titles and two NIT’s that included a semifinal appearance in 2012, the numbers show Romar has entered unchartered territory.
From 2004-2005 -- Romar’s third season at Washington -- to now, the Huskies won 225 games, the most ever in a 10-year span of U-Dub basketball history. He has averaged 20.7 wins per season during his 13-year UW career and has amassed four of the seven largest single-season win totals in UW history. Romar has six 20-win seasons under his tenure -- a mark that only trails Hec Edmundson’s 11 seasons with 20+ wins.
Not only have the wins started piling up for Romar, but the number of players he has sent to the NBA while at Washington has reached unprecedented heights. Romar has seen 10 of his players drafted since 2005, including seven first round picks. The 2012 Draft saw two Huskies selected in the first round -- a first in UW history. Overall, 13 players have been part of NBA rosters during Romar’s tenure, including the most recent Husky in C.J. Wilcox who was the 28th pick of the 2014 draft.
In 2013 the Huskies finished with an 18-15 overall and 9-9 in Pac-12 play. UW earned its sixth-straight postseason appearance, including their second-straight NIT appearance. Romar saw C.J. Wilcox earn second-team All-Pac-12 honors.
In 2012, Romar led UW to its second regular season outright conference crown since 1953. Washington was 24-11 overall and 14-4 in the first year of Pac-12 play. The Huskies were denied a NCAA tournament bid, but Pac-12 Coach of the Year Romar was able to lead his Huskies to the Big Apple and the NIT semifinals during the postseason. Romar saw his star freshman Tony Wroten earn Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Terrence Ross First Team All-Conference honors before both went on to become NBA first round draft picks in June.
Romar led the Huskies to their third-straight NCAA appearance in 2011, won their second-consecutive Pac-10 Tournament Championship and produced two members of the All-Pac-10 team (Isaiah Thomas and Matthew Bryan-Amaning). Thanks to a buzzer-beating shot by Thomas, Washington was able to capture its third conference tournament crown under Romar’s direction. The No. 7 seeded Huskies crowned their 24-11 season with a second round win over Georgia in the NCAA Tournament before falling to North Carolina in the third round.
In 2009-10, Romar led the Huskies to another historic season. Washington won its second Pac-10 Tournament Championship, made its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the third time under Romar. Despite their No. 11 seeding, the Huskies beat No. 5 seed Marquette and No. 4 New Mexico before losing to the No. 2 seed West Virginia.
The Huskies ended 2010 with a 26-10 record putting Romar in elite coaching company. He joined Hec Edmundson as the only UW coach to lead a team to four seasons with 25 or more wins.
The 2008-09 Husky squad won the first outright Pac-10 Championship for the school since 1953. Romar’s Huskies were 26-9 in 2009 and 14-4 in the Pac-10 Conference to finish a game ahead of UCLA. He earned Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. Washington earned its first-ever No. 4 seed for the 2009 NCAA Tournament. They beat No. 12 seed Mississippi State 71-58 in the first round before dropping a close 76-74 decision to No. 5 Purdue.
He coached UW to back-to-back Sweet 16 berths (2005 & 2006) for the first time in school history. UW participated in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, from 2004-06, for just the second time in school history.
Romar ranks second among all-time UW coaches with 254 victories. He posted his 100th UW win on Feb. 12, 2007 against Stanford. Romar was honored at the 2006 Final Four as the winner of the John Wooden “Keys to Life” Award following a season in which he directed the Huskies to a 26-7 record. UW was 13-5 in Pac-10 play, finishing as the conference runner-up for the third straight season. UW won two NCAA tournament games before an overtime setback against top-seed Connecticut.
Romar fashioned a spectacular turnaround during his second season when UW posted a 19-12 record in 2004 and participated in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. In 2004, Romar guided the Huskies to their first second-place regular-season finish since 1986 and their first Pac-10 Tournament championship game appearance since 1987. After opening the conference campaign with an 0-5 record, UW reeled off 12 wins in its final 13 Pac-10 outings. Capping the run was a 75-62 triumph over No. 1 and previously undefeated Stanford in the final regular-season game. His Huskies won all three meetings with highly ranked Arizona, sweeping the season series for the first time since 1984. The remarkable 2004 season was ended by a 102-100 loss to UAB in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
His inaugural Washington campaign concluded with a 10-17 record. UW placed ninth in the Pac-10 with a 5-13 mark. The young Husky roster included only one senior and six freshmen. He was named to head up the program at his alma mater on April 3, 2002. A point guard for the Huskies’ 1978-79 and 1979-80 teams, Romar is the 18th head coach in Washington’s 103-year history. He is the first African-American coach to lead the Washington basketball program.
The 2012-13 year was Romar’s 17th year as an NCAA head coach. He has compiled a 363-174 record in that span. He tallied a 42-44 mark in three years at Pepperdine and a 51-44 record in three years at St. Louis before returning to his alma mater. Washington is Romar’s third stint as a head college coach. During three-year tenures at Pepperdine (1997-1999) and Saint Louis (2000-2002), he gained a reputation as a hard-working coach admired for integrity and dedication. At both Pepperdine and Saint Louis, Romar helped to revive programs to a competitive level. He led the Waves to a pair of second-place finishes in the West Coast Conference and an NIT invitation in 1999. During his first season at SLU, the Billikens upset No. 1 Cincinnati in the second round of the Conference USA tournament and went on to win the championship and the league’s automatic berth into the NCAAs. During each of his final two seasons at Saint Louis, his teams defeated Washington. The Billikens beat UW 69-61 on Dec. 5, 2000 in Seattle and 71-70 on Dec. 29, 2001 in St. Louis.
Seattle was the site of one of Romar’s great coaching moments. As an assistant coach, he helped UCLA to an 89-78 triumph over Arkansas in the Kingdome to win the 1995 NCAA Championship. Cameron Dollar, an assistant coach on Romar’s Saint Louis and Washington staffs, was one of the stars for the Bruins during that national title contest. Romar built a reputation at UCLA (1992-96) as one of the nation’s top recruiters and was credited with recruiting much of the talent that formed the core of the Bruins’ title team.
In three years at Saint Louis, Romar compiled a 51-44 (.537) record, including wins over nine different conference champions. His 51 wins rank No. 7 among all-time SLU coaches and is the fourth-best three-year total in the school’s history. Romar was named head basketball coach at Saint Louis on March 26, 1999. In his inaugural season at the school, Romar guided the Billikens to a 19-14 record that marked the third best debut season-record in Saint Louis annals.
His basketball life has been marked by success at every level beginning with his playing career from high school to the NBA through his coaching career. He continued that success with a notable run of firsts in his initial season at Saint Louis. In directing the Billikens to the Conference USA Tournament title and an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament, Romar became the first Saint Louis coach to accomplish either feat in his debut season. The 1999-2000 season marked many other notable firsts as well. Romar became the first coach in history to lead SLU into the NCAA Tournament in his debut season after winning the school’s first conference tournament title. Saint Louis upset a No. 1 team, Cincinnati, for the first time since the 1952. The 2000-01 SLU squad posted a 17-14 record and became the first team in Conference USA history to defeat perennial power Cincinnati in back-to-back games. The Billikens finished with a 15-16 record in 2001-02 against a difficult schedule that included 14 games against teams that qualified for the postseason.
Prior to coaching at Saint Louis, Romar amassed a three-year record of 42-44 (.488) at Pepperdine, including 36 wins in his final two seasons with the Waves. He took control of the Waves’ program in February 1996 and quickly established himself as a top recruiter, bringing in talent that would guide the Waves to a postseason appearance in 1999. In his second year, Romar staged a significant 11-game improvement over the previous season to finish with a 17-10 record and earn a second-place finish in the West Coast Conference, just one game behind champion Gonzaga. Pepperdine was the second-most improved NCAA Division I team in in 1997-98, trailing only Connecticut. In his final season at the school, Romar guided Pepperdine to a 19-13 record and a bid to the NIT, the Waves’ first postseason appearance in five years. The season after his departure, Pepperdine earned an NCAA Tournament berth with the majority of players Romar recruited. One of those players was Brandon Armstrong who was the 23rd selection overall in the 2001 NBA Draft.
Prior to his stint at Pepperdine, Romar was the top assistant under Jim Harrick at UCLA from 1992-1996. He recruited such talent as Toby Bailey, Cameron Dollar, J.R. Henderson, Kris Johnson, Jelani McCoy and Charles O’Bannon. That recruiting bonanza helped lead the Bruins to back-to-back Pac-10 championships in 1995 and 1996. UCLA registered a 31-2 record in 1995 and won the NCAA crown. UCLA’s record during Romar’s four-year assistant coaching tenure was a stunning 97-28 (.776).
Romar is well respected among his peers as his selection as the head coach for the U.S. under-18 national team can attest. He led the U.S. juniors, including Husky Spencer Hawes, to a gold medal at the 2006 FIBA Americas championship. He served as an assistant to head coach Tom Izzo on the 2003 USA Basketball Pan American Games staff.
He was named to the USA Basketball’s competition committees in February, 2013 for the 2013-16 quadrennium after serving in the same role from 2009-12.
A native of Compton, Calif., Romar graduated from Pius X High School. He earned his associate degree from Cerritos (Calif.) Community College in 1978 before studying at UW from 1978-80. He completed his coursework at Cincinnati, receiving his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1992. During his sophomore year at Cerritos, Romar led the Falcons to a 23-8 record, averaged 14.1 points per game, set the school record for single-season assists and earned first-team all-league honors.
He transferred to Washington in 1978 and played two seasons for legendary Husky head coach Marv Harshman. Romar was a two-year starter for the Huskies on the 1978-79 and 1979-80 teams. Romar played all 27 games, starting seven times for the 1978-79 UW squad that finished with an 11-16 record and a 6-12 mark in Pac-10 play. He averaged 6.0 points and 1.4 rebounds during his junior season while posting team-leading totals of 80 assists and 35 steals. He shot 51 percent from the field and 72 percent from the free throw line. As a senior in 1979-80, Romar played all 28 games for the Huskies who posted an 18-10 record, including a 9-9 conference mark. Washington participated in the National Invitation Tournament. He led all UW playmakers with 99 assists while averaging 9.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
Romar served as team captain his senior year. He was the recipient of the Most Inspirational Award both years, an honor voted on by his teammates. The Golden State Warriors selected Romar in the seventh round of the 1980 NBA Draft with the 141st pick overall. He totaled 1,731 points (5.9 average) and distributed 1,022 assists (3.5 average) during 291 career regular-season NBA games. His five-year NBA career included stints with Golden State (1981-84), Milwaukee (1984) and Detroit (1984-85).
After the 1984-85 season, Romar joined Athletes in Action (AIA), the athletic division of Campus Crusade for Christ, a non-denominational ministry that began in 1951 at UCLA. Romar started 224 of 233 games during his seven years as a player for AIA. In 1991-92, he averaged 24.4 points, 5.9 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 54.5 percent from the field, including 49.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 83.7 percent from the free throw line. Romar set single-game records while an AIA player for most points (54) and assists (21). He remains the team’s all-time assists leader (1,689) and ranks No. 2 in all-time scoring (4,244).
In 1992, the then 34-year-old Romar scored 45 points against Michigan’s “Fab Five” freshmen, who went on to reach the NCAA championship game. In 1989, Romar took on co-head coaching duties for AIA, in addition to his continued responsibilities as a player. The year prior to Romar’s assuming the coaching position, AIA went 12-25, the worst record in franchise history. Just three years later, Romar directed the 1991-92 AIA team to 21 wins, including a victory over NCAA Final Four participant Florida.
Romar served during the summer of 1997 as an assistant under Rick Majerus for the United States’ 22 & Under Team that competed at the World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. At Washington, he replaced Bob Bender who resigned on Mar. 13, 2002. Romar is the second former Husky player to return as the head coach. He joins Lynn Nance, who played at UW from 1964-65 and was the Huskies’ head coach for four seasons from 1989-93.
Romar and his wife, Leona, have three daughters -- Terra, Tavia and Taylor. Taylor, a 2012 graduate of Washington, was a cheerleader. He also became a grandfather for the first time when Tavia gave birth in 2012 to grand daughter, Eden.