I’m trying to make sure that Montlake Madness always gives you the fan’s perspective on Husky hoops, even when we’re invited to events like Media Day. So, I wanted to write about the event in a way that would hopefully give you a sense of what it was like to be there. As I said, we’ll get to everything I heard soon. This is what I experienced (and what I gathered about the team from being there).
The Scene: Media Day took place at The Founder’s Club in Hec Ed. I’d estimate that, between print, TV, internet, and radio, there were about 25 members of the media on hand. Here’s what the scene looked like as I walked in:
It’s always strange seeing individuals in person whose faces or voices you know, like Art Thiel, Percy Allen, Don Ruiz, and Softy Mahler. I knew very few of the people there and kind of just hung out by myself until the event started. Here’s a shot I took just before things got going — you can see Coach and Softy shooting the breeze:
Everyone associated with the university wears UW gear to media day – players, coaches, athletic department guys. All of them.
Lorenzo Romar’s 30-minute press conference: Media Day started with a 30-minute Q&A between the press and Coach Romar. Up close, you realize just how unflappable Coach is. We all know that he’s a smooth, charismatic guy, but sitting five feet away from him, you can really get a sense of how that translates so easily into: “Yes, I’d like my kid to play for that guy.”
Coach didn’t drop anything close to a bombshell, but did talk a bit about the rotation (saying he could maybe see 10 men getting playing time, but likely only nine), filling the leadership void (“Quincy’s doing a heck of a job as the leader of this basketball team.”), and the change on the coaching staff (he called Coach Chillious “special”).
I threw a few questions out myself during the press conference, asking what he would consider a “successful season.” Coach didn’t even pretend he was going to give me specifics, telling me that I was going to be unhappy with his answer, then going on to say, basically, that he’d consider the year successful if everyone came out to play hard every day, regardless of the results.
Here’s Coach during the press conference:
And here’s what Coach sees when he’s up there (minus some of the media members, who hadn’t taken their seats yet when I took the picture):
Tyreese Breshers: Coach also spoke glowingly about Tyreese Breshers. In fact, everyone seems to love Tyreese Breshers. LoRo said “Tyreese Breshers is someone who can be just as physical, if not more physical than Jon Brockman.”
Tyreese is also the guy whose name came up most often when talking to other guys on the team. For instance, Matthew Bryan-Amaning said Tyreese was definitely the toughest matchup for him in practice because of his strength.
Today confirmed for me that there’s definitely a buzz developing around Breshers. Maybe it’s because he projects, stylistically, as the player who could be most similar to Jon Brockman. But, people are raving about his power and how quick he is for a big man. Apparently, he isn’t 100% healthy yet, but he is ready to play in games, and I can’t imagine that he won’t be seeing major minutes at some point this season.
Abdul Gaddy: I met Abdul for the first time today. The kid does not seem like he’s 17 years-old. All of the guys on the team are nice guys, but Abdul reads more like a nice man. He comes across as THE guy you want leading your team on the floor in big games. You’ll see when I run our interview in a couple of days how thoroughly Gaddy thinks through the game of basketball, and how well he expresses those thoughts.
If you’ve ever heard Chris Paul, Steve Nash or Jason Kidd interviewed, there’s just a confidence in the demeanor of great point guards, even off the court. A way of carrying themselves. Gaddy’s got it.
I haven’t written a lot about Gaddy so far, because I want to see him to prove himself at this level first, but if someone’s going to lead us to the promised land, it just might well be Abdul Gaddy.
Quincy Pondexter: Speaking of leadership, and the void left by Jon Brockman, there’s no doubt that this is now Quincy Pondexter’s team. While Isaiah kept everyone laughing and had a big circle around him for much of the event, Quincy was the star of the show.
From a friendly familiarity with members of the media to his willingness to make time for even silly questions, Quincy is clearly the veteran on the team. Not sure how things are when the media isn’t around, but Quincy’s describing himself to me as “pretty much like another member of the coaching staff,” seemed accurate based on who he mingled with and how he carried himself at Media Day.
Team chemistry: This is clearly a team that likes each other. They record hip-hop songs together. They laughed and hung out with each other when not engaged in interviews yesterday. One player referred to the team as a “brotherhood.” I don’t know how different this is from other top programs, but I would guess that whenever we lose, it’s not going to be because of any locker room problems this season. My impression is that this is a very happy, upbeat, and confident squad.
More from Media Day over the course of the next week. And, plenty of other big stuff coming up, including Bobby Jones’ reaction to some of the criticism of his blog post comparing NCAA basketball to modern-day slavery, and plenty more.
As always, thanks for coming!