Pac-12 Burning Questions: What About Lorenzo Romar’s Hot Seat?

Posted by Adam Butler on November 8th, 2016

It was surprising to learn that The Ringer’s first-ever college basketball piece (or at least Mark Titus’ first college hoops piece) was about Lorenzo Romar and the Washington basketball program. It’s of course not totally strange to have Washington hoops in national news during off-cycle reporting (see: The Sixth Man), but when you consider Washington hasn’t made an NCAA Tournament since 2012, it’s a little different that a brand new media outlet would introduce itself by questioning the employment of a Pacific Northwestern basketball coach. And while I know that we’re Pac-12 homers, this one felt a little strange yet enjoyable. Alas, this isn’t a media critique column — it’s an exploration of the Huskies, a team that it says here is not playing for its coach’s job. No, the Huskies are instead playing for their first NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. With a fresh injection of energy and life into the Seattle-based program, fans joined the Dawg Pound as Washington exhibited a bump in attendance for the first time in three years. And while the numbers (attendance) are still rather paltry (an average jump of about 400 bodies), it trended up. We like upward trends and particularly ones that can be righted after 14 seasons.

Washington's Foul Trouble Is Not Fun For Lorenzo Romar. (The Seattle Times)

Once again, this might be the make-or-break year for Lorenzo Romar. Or is it? (The Seattle Times)

So if Washington isn’t playing explicitly for its coach’s job and we’re not asking the question if they are, what questions can we ask? Well…

  • Is freshman Markelle Fultz the best player in the Pac-12? Some have predicted he will be the Pac-12 Player of the Year, and still others have noted him as the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. CBSSports.com, for what it’s worth, says he’s the second best college basketball player out there.
  • Will the Huskies average less time per possession this year? Last year Washington logged an outrageously swift possession time of 13.6 seconds, second in the nation, and the third quickest offensive possession length since KenPom began tracking the number in 2010.

  • Can Malik Dime, Noah Dickerson, and (or) any other player on the floor grab a defensive board? Last season the Dawgs ranked 338th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, which has been proven to allow opponents to get easy buckets.
  • How does a team learn to foul less? Is Washington the Barry Bonds of disqualifications?

And let’s loop back around to that first question. The Huskies have touted a great number of NBA Draft picks in their time. They have in fact boasted the third-most in the Pac-12 over the last 10 years and the 10th-most in the nation. That’s something to hang a program’s hat on, but it also begs the question: What does Romar have to show for it besides some cutesy bar trivia? Which then begs the follow-up question: what makes a player like Fultz any different? I suppose I’ll leave that to the scouts who feel he’s the best one-and-done prospect Washington has ever seen. I think Romar does, too. But Tony Wroten couldn’t make the NCAA Tournament. Neither could Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray.

The hype, however, feels different this time around. The projections are greater and expectations haven’t changed. It’s a pretty interesting position that leads our eyes to the rest of the roster — a group with mostly just one season of experience, lending itself, rightfully so, to modest expectations. The Huskies were carried to a modest season last year by a fantastic scoring guard (Andrew Andrews). Not much else has changed but the conference is not better. The Huskies this season feel like a group that might have maintained enough continuity to be on the better end of the improvement spectrum and play their way, with Fultz leading the charge, to a more competitive season.

Adam Butler (23 Posts)


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