Success in sports, as in life, can produce one of two reactions: one of on-going entitlement; or one of humility. The former seems all too common, while the latter is refreshing, inspiring. Oddly enough, too, it is often the latter that also propels individuals and teams to deeper levels of success.
Romar, and the coaches that fill out his staff, have modeled the latter example of humility in reflecting upon their success as a program. This humility has helped them avoid the trap of success, while keeping them hungry for the next level as a program.
The college recruiting “game” is a fascinating one on many levels, the blights on certain programs aside. A premium is placed on relationship, as many coaches, particularly in basketball where skill set is not immediately linked to girth as it can be in football, form relationships with young players prior to them even entering high school. There is also the parental dynamic, which can be at odds with the dynamic of the wants of their child. Will my kid receive a good education? Will the coaching staff, in addition to placing a premium on winning, be an example, a mentor, to my kid? These are questions that cross the minds, I’m sure, of many a parent who is fortunate enough to watch their kid pursue their athletic dreams.
Romar, by all accounts, is a great recruiter. Kids love playing for him, parents speak well of him and he runs a clean program. However, he wants to position his program to advance deeper into the NCAA Tournament, for instance. He sees deeper levels of success, deeper levels of team cohesion. Most importantly, Romar and his staff realize that to make deeper runs into the tourney, they need to balance their typically great guard and wing play, with solid, physical post play.
Last season saw the Huskies add several members to their front line, and while time will yet tell the level of their contribution, the ball is in motion in an attempt fortify the front line. The pattern of adding bulk and skilled big men has continued this season with the transfers of Perris Blackwell and Giles Dierckx, though they’ll need to sit out this year due to NCAA transfer rules. I wonder if, taken cumulatively, this could signal a shift, or at least a new emphasis, in Romar’s recruiting approach? To advance deeper into the tournament, Romar no doubt realizes that he needs some strength on the front line. Obviously, a tournament setting forces teams to think in these terms, since it is really about match-ups.
With the commitments of the 2013 class right around the corner, it will be interesting how the Huskies will fill the spots they have open (which can increase too, should current players leave early or transfer). Romar’s short list includes some formidable big men, some have caught the eye of the national media already like Aaron Gordon, and others are rising up the “watch” lists, like Marcus Lee and Kyle Washington.