Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

Excuses...Excuses...Despite the Excuses, This Failed Season is Romar's Fault.

Too many freshmen, Scott Suggs redshirting, CJ Wilcox’s injury, there are lots of reasons to explain the struggles of the Washington Huskies this season. But, whatever the issues are, the team has been in disarray, underperformed, lacks cohesion and chemistry, and is on the cusp of missing out on the NCAA tournament, and maybe even any form of post-season play. While it’s easy to look at the situation and just say it’s one of those down years, the fact is, with better planning this all could have been avoided. Ultimately, the responsibility lies at the feet of Lorenzo Romar for not having better planning or recruiting strategies in the last couple of years. It isn’t as thoughRomar inhereted a difficult situation here. He built this team and created the environment for the stuggles that the team has endured.

Unfortunately, as you look ahead to next year, there is not a great deal to be optimistic about if certain things fall the wrong way. The two best players on the team, Tony Wroten and Terrance Ross are both predicted to be near lottery picks if they enter the NBA draft. You can argue all you want about whether either of them is “ready” for the NBA yet. But, the fact is, the NBA drafts on potential and both of them have it. If millions of dollars are staring you in the face, it is awfully difficult to turn that down, regardless of whatever perceived weakenesses you may have. Just ask Spencer Hawes…

So, imagine what this team would look like next year without Wroten or Ross? Maybe they would be decent with a senior class of Gaddy, Suggs, and Aziz. Maybe CJ Wilcox would blossom into an unstoppable force. Desmond Simmons looks like a terrific talent who is getter better almost every game. On the other hand, we have not seen much evidence that our other big men are ready to take up the slack. Are you confident that Martin Bruenig and Shawn Kemp Jr. are ready to make the leap into actual contributors to this team? If Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, a football player not recruited to play basketball, can walk-on halfway through the season and in his first game contribute far more than either of the scholarship forwards have, it has to make you wonder.

Are you confident that Jernard Jarreau would come in strong enough and ready to make an immediate impact? Is Andrew Andrews the next Tony Wroten? And of course, unless Anthony Bennett shocks the world and chooses to come to a rebuilding club way up in Seattle, the redshirting players this year are essentially Romar’s  recruiting class for next year since he has no commits or even any known leans for the upcoming year. But, there will definitely be a scholarship to give with Gant graduating, so the question is whether Romar will fill it or keep it open for the pipedream that is the 2013 recruiting class.

But, let’s focus now on where this team stands right now. Most people defending the situation the Huskies find themselves in right now focus on the fact that the Huskies are “young”. They have 8 freshmen they say (although it’s worth noting two of them are redshirting and two are walk-ons). But, while it is true that having so many freshmen may hinder Romar’s ability to properly teach and intergrate his defense and may also result in issues of team chemistry and offensive efficiency, the bigger question you have to ask is…WHY does he have so many freshmen?

This whole dilemma actually began three years ago following the 2009 season. Jon Brockman, Justin Dentmon, Artem Wallace, and Joe Wolfinger moved on. The future looked bright with Brockman’s heir apparent in Tyreese Breshers coming in, Elston Turner coming on strong, as well as, a strong group of upper-classmen. But, despite bringing in the #2 point guard in the country AbdulGaddy, Clarence Trent, and CJ Wilcox, the Huskies were left with an open scholarship when Charles Garcia did not make it past the admissions office.

Obviously, many were very upset about this at the time. But, in the end the admissions office at UW was vindicated in their decision when Charles Garcia went over to Seattle U, played great for half a season, started getting benched due to attitude and performance issues, stopped going to classes, rumors being his grades were terrible anyways, and decided to enter the NBA draft, with a subtle little nudge from Cameron Dollar and the SU administration. But, after not get drafted, he now toils in the D-league.

While Romar reported cried when he told Garcia he didn’t get into UW, this is one you have to question Romar’s judgement on. Wasn’t there another talent he could have lured to UW? Couldn’t he have found a big man who would now be a junior or senior this year and thus provide more of a contribution and upper-class leadership?

Nonetheless, Romar decided to leave that scholarship slot open and use it to enhance his next recruiting class. Except for the problem that that didn’t work out so well either. Breshers retired, leaving a void that’s been hard to fill. Sure, the Huskies brought in Terrance Ross, Aziz, and Desmond Simmons, but because Clarence Trent and Elston Turner decided to transfer, the Huskies were again left with another opening. Why did Trent and Turner transfer anyways? The perception was that minutes were limited and they would not get the chance to be the central focus of the offense. Ironically, the exact opposite has now happened and now Elston Turner is averaging 31 minutes per game at Texas A&M instead of being the senior captain of a depleted Huskies squad.

And while Clarence Trent is not exactly lighting up the scoreboard, he did sit out last year. What kind of player would he be as junior this year with that extra year of experience? But, one also has to wonder what if Romar had used that scholarship slot that was open for two straight years on a big man, even if a marginal Pac-12 talent. Where could this team be with that player being a sophomore or junior this year instead of a bunch of inexperienced freshmen?

What if Romar had gone more strongly for John Gage from Vashon Island or any number of players from California doing well like a Jamaal Franklin down at San Diego State or Joe Eberhard at Sacramento State? I am not saying these players would be the difference makers for the Huskies this year. But, they might have given the team a bit more stability up front, more experience, more of a presence down low, and critical depth to give Aziz a breather.

Now, in Romar’s defense, he probably would have expected Darnell Gant to have developed some semblance of an inside game by his 5th year in college. Here is a player starting games as a redshirt freshman, yet he has never developed since then, never really gotten better. Sure, his 3-point shot improved, but that is not what the Huskies have needed from him for the last three years. The Huskies have needed him to develop an inside presence, a post move, a rebounding prowess. Gant never did that. Instead, he has chosen to drift out beyond the arc. He contributes, but is not a the leader this team has desperately needed.

When people wonder if Romar will ever be able to convince a big-time big man to come to Washington, all they need to do is look at what happened with Darnell Gant. He never got better inside when the team needed him to the most.

So, here we stand. With Justin Holiday and MBA graduating and I.T. going to the draft, suddenly the Huskies found themselves with a plethora of scholarship slots. But, Romar flailed about desperately seeking to find a big man to fill those shoes left by previous bigs like MBA, Breshers, QPon, and Brockman.

He went for a lanky 6’10″ kid from Louisiana who apparently is more of a guard than a center. He tried and failed on other big men going from Angelo Chol to Norvel Pelle to God’s Gift Achiuwe to Richard Peters to D.J. Shelton before they eventually settled on Bruenig and Shawn Kemp Jr. Yet, it seems like Romar just took them to avoid having more open scholarships again and with the hope one of them would work out. Maybe those two will eventually blossom into something special. But, for this year at least, it isn’t working out.

So, the Huskies have been left with this troubled season due to a combination of bad luck and bad planning. A team who for the last 3 years was blessed with too many talented players to give minutes to finds itself with a rotation of just 7. Elston Turner left this team because of minutes. Clarence Trent left this team because of minutes. Now, the Huskies are having trouble finding enough bodies to give minutes to.

In Lorenzo Romar’s quest to nationalize his recruiting and all-but-ignore the traditional recruiting base in California, he has missed out on opportunities to have veteran players on this roster right now who could have stopped this team from collapsing under the weight of its own inexperience and lack of cohesion.

Tags: Charles Garcia Darnell Lorenzo Romar Washington Huskies

  • batuque

    I have religiously hit this site up everymorning to get a dose of dawg deliberation, maybe not so much anymore, at least during bball season.

  • emcdub

    what an asinine article full of pompous jibberish …real disappointed in this site’s take on the basketball program.

    You’re saying he should have “predicted” a Senior choosing to Redshirt and a star player getting a stress fracture.

    We all learn to write at age 5 …. most of us moved on to more challenging things. I see that you’ve stuck with it, just didn’t get any better at it …

    • Dawgalicious

      @emcdub Why the need to attack people personally? To say he’s 5 years old? Really? You don’t need to like his writing or agree with his points. But, there is no reason to use demeaning language.

  • jpdog

    Yeah, I guess the buck stops at Romars’ desk. Seems like this could have waited till the end of the season. When you consider that a team needs at least 2 big men to go with the guard types you might want to consider how many quality big men are actually out there. John Gage? Really? A great kid but not a traditional big man. Not a banger. Another 3 point shooter. I’ll take J.J. Besides, how many kids pass up a chance to go to Stanford? Romar has a truly great talent in TW, but he is having to teach him the concept of team basketball. You can see the improvement. Romar can’t just snap his fingers and give Ross a different personality. Ross is a soph. and he’s figuring it out too. This team has underperformed but I’m willing to wait to pass judgement.

  • huskyhaul

    Let’s be clear. This is one writer’s point of view, not the entire sites. In fact, Carl is writing up his counter point to this exact debate.

    There is no need to get up in arms about it. Just a healthy debate. Jeff “HuskyLenz” thinks the above point. You and Carl may not. This is what being a fan is about, rooting for your team and debating over the hot topics.

    P.S. thanks for checking the site “religiously”

  • purp squad

    Yea this article was pretty terrible, waay to much complaining about lost recruits and other what ifs, be happy with the players we have, and the fact that romar has given us a relevant program, and dont count out freshman like kemp and breunig to develope down the line, this is their FRESHMAN year, remember justin holidays freshmanyear? how about suggs, yea i thought so. When you lose players like MBA and isiah there will be a down period for new players learning to step up, and just cause we missed out on certain recruits, not all of them are flourishing, angelo chols year has been forgettable at arizona, bahh this is the attitude of a fan who should route for a guy like callipari, no what ifs about recruiting there, go jump on that bang wagon if you wanna be this critical about your coaches recruiting abilities

  • AMitchellReport

    I’m torn on this one…Because I think that Romar deserves some blame, but for other reasons. His inability to run ANY sort of an offense is absolutely PATHETIC. Seriously, watch the Husky offense and you don’t see an offense, you see five guys running around looking for an open shot. The only play I saw run last week was with two bigs screening for Ross, it never worked, but was run over and over again.

    I know his philosophy is teach the defense first, but this year the defense didn’t pan out, so the Huskies are way behind on both offense AND defense, which makes it brutal to watch at times.

    He does have a lot of Freshman though, and this team is odd and something is wrong with it, Romar doesn’t deserve a pass, but this season is just troubling.

  • batuque

    Clear enough. There are other sports sites in this city, that have writers that tend to display a propensity or prejudice against coaches of certain teams and when they may have a day that is lacking in editorial inspiration the default mode is bash that coach. I could be wrong about Mr. Taylor, maybe he’ll give Romar some credit when they win the conference or the P12 tourney. Being a life long dawg also means being able register dismay at what could be a cheap shot a coach that has been way more than a middling positive for the program.

    Again, I wouldn’t have made a point of it if I hadn’t noticed the trend on other venues.

    Otherwise,, site rocks.

  • 206

    ENOUGH. There is nothing “healthy” about this series of articles! Jeff Taylor has increasingly made it clear that he has a vendetta against Coach Romar and is trying to character assassinate his entire program. It’s been one embarrassingly incompetent article after another. What’s worse is Taylor has only average basketball knowledge at best. It’s like a child saying a team “sucks” and immediately blaming the most visible person as the reason. (Oh i forgot, Scott Suggs’ injury is all Romar’s fault.)The facts are that Coach Romar is a very successful high major coach with a successful high major program. He is currently dealing with multiple problems regarding personnel that no one could have fully anticipated. Anyone with high basketball intelligence that has objectively watched the development of UW basketball under Romar knows this one simple fact: The UW is only two top 5 class away from breaking through as an elite program. Taylor takes multiple NCAA tournament bids, Sweet 16 appearances and conference titles for granted? That is the mark of someone who doesn’t have a clue of the amount of hard work that goes into consistently succeeding at a high level. Something tells me you’re over-compensating for your own personal failures…Coach Romar could very easily end up the winningest coach in Husky history. And if Romar achieves his very obvious goal of breaking through to elite status –he would arguably end up the best UW basketball coach ever. But still Jeff Taylor knows best, right? As someone who enjoys the football coverage on Husky Haul, Taylor’s crap sickens me that it makes you, the Husky Haul, look like the home for loser bloggers that toss unqualified opinion at local sports figures to gain notoriety. I am sick of reading this garbage. Taylor is the kind of fan, business partner or friend that calls his own jealousy and hatred “constructive criticism” when he’s really just a cancer.

    • huskyhaul

      @206 thanks for your comments. The writing is good, the argument is one I have heard from many, not just Jeff, thus the discussion is in place. — I love your counter points. I like to think of HuskyHaul as a place for opinions thus I have allowed Jeff to make his. However, maybe you are right. Maybe he has made his case and now he is beating it into the ground.

      At this same time, it doesn’t reflect the overall opinion of the site. I would guess the majority of the writers do not express the same belief and in fact Carl is writing up a counter point as we speak. I hope you read it tomorrow. :)

      • Dawgalicious

        @huskyhaul Way to meekly defend the author. Sounds like you are hanging him out to dry.

        • huskyhaul

          @Dawgalicious haha one thing I don’t need to do is defend Jeff. He is more than capable of that himself. :) I am glad you stopped by to comment. I didn’t think the overall point of the blog was that outlandish. It’s not my view but one I have heard COUNTLESS times from Husky fans. So, my “meekness” may have been just confusion seeping through. Didn’t expect all the venom (as you said).

    • emcdub

      @206 I agree with every word 206 said. I will visit this site much less if this article is representative of the core values of the site …

  • Dawgalicious

    Wow, the article may have been too harsh against Romar, but why the venom and vindictiveness against the author? He was pointing out stuff others have complained about, especially on the Seattle Times blog.

    But, what I think is uncalled for are the personal attacks! I mean, cancer? “Something tells me you’re over-compensating for your own personal failures”. Really? Sounds like those who felt they needed to take the time to write such attacks against a simple article written by someone who is not a professional media writer is the one needing to compensate for personal failures.

  • huskylenz

    So, I get home after a long day at work and am shocked by the huge number of comments regarding this article. It was certainly designed to elicit a response and stir the pot. But, I did not expect people to be so angry about it that they would attack me personally.

    For the record, I do not believe that Romar is as at fault as the article indicates. I have been a strong support of Romar from the beginner. I was there in the stands as a student during the Lynn Nance era when students got into non-conference games for free. To see the success this team has had the last 9 years has been a real joy. I’ve enjoyed the ride.

    But, just because we have been happy with the success as compared to a decade and more ago, does not mean that everything is peachy keen right now. They do appear to be on the verge of missing the NCAA tournament and it would be interesting to know why a team with potentially 4 NBA players on it can’t make the Big Dance.

    But, I will continue to root for this team in every game, as a true Husky fan and alum whether they are 24-3 or 3-24. I did during the Lynn Nance era and I will now. I’ll be in Tempe on Thursday to see them play Arizona State and will be screaming my lungs out.

    You don’t have to like my articles, you don’t have to agree with my opinions. But, you also do not need to take it so personally that you attack me for it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. That’s how I deal with situations like that.

  • EWeebs

    I wouldn’t blame this season on bad recruiting strategy as much as having no offensive plan whatsoever. Dollar was our main offensive play caller before he left, wasn’t he? Notice how the team has steadily gained talent, and yet our record has gotten worse since left? Romar NEEDS to bring in an X’s & O’s assistant who can actually draw up an offensive play.

    • AMitchellReport

      @EWeebs That’s exactly what I would say too. I pointed to it below and completely agree with you. There is no offense on this team, but that;s not Romar’s forté. He needs to bring someone in who knows how to coach an offense. With the elite offensive talent he has, this team should be producing more.

  • SammyB

    Jeff, I don’t know whether you’re right or not, but I totally agree with you.

    I’ve said in Percy’s blog that I’m off the Romar bandwagon. I know he’ll never be let go, but his coaching staff needs a Sarkesque upgrade. I’d think we’re pretty easy to recruit against unless you’re 6’4 – 6’6.

  • wayne02

    The season isn’t even over yet. Calling it ‘failed’ seems a bit premature. Has everyone here given up already?

  • Dawgfan23

    If Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, a football player not recruited to play basketball, can walk-on halfway through the season and in his first game contribute far more than either of the scholarship forwards have, it has to make you wonder.

    In referance to the above statement: First of all Kemp has been working hard in practice and has not played more than 9 min. in a single game! Nothing aganist this kid Austin but if Kemp had 16 min a game and didn’t get pulled out after 1 min he would be able to make a differnce as well. What should make you wonder is WHY Romar has not given Kemp or Bruenig a chance not only that Aziz has earned his mins yet Romar decided to bring Austin back in the game against Stanford! We DO NOT play as a team, We have NO leadership! It’s painful to watch all the Talent on the team and think that we will be lucky if we make the Pac 12 Tourney!! You can’t have a big man under the basket WIDE OPEN calling for the ball and NOT pass it 2 him! It’s just a bunch of politics! Still I hope to see them do well GO DAWGS!!

  • 206

    @HuskyHaul – yes, beating a dead horse for 3 months is enough, especially when it’s presented as analysis and all it resembles is negative trolling. Keep up the good work on the football analysis. But why isn’t the currently more prestigious basketball program covered in the same manner? Unless this really is an anti-Romar site, it makes no sense.

  • emcdub

    I’ll say it again …. I agree with every word 206 just said !!!

  • huskyhaul

    hey let’s close this thread and move on to new articles. :)