UW coach Romar says defense key to end slide
SEATTLE – Lorenzo Romar can pull stats with amazing accuracy. The Washington coach knows that earlier this season his Huskies held UCLA and USC to less than 40 percent shooting on the road, and that Isaiah Thomas had six assists and two turnovers last Saturday against Oregon.
The most glaring stat Romar sees right now: 0-3, as in the Huskies’ three-game losing streak that has knocked them from the top of the Pac-10.
“It just goes back again to the defensive end of the floor. A rededication to the defensive end is what is going to help us turn this around,” Romar said Tuesday. “I think that is fairly simple as to where the issue is. That’s easier said than done because we haven’t done it the last three games.”
Actually, for Romar, the problems go back beyond the Huskies’ 87-80 loss at rival Washington State on Jan. 30, the start of an untimely three-game road skid. A week earlier, in an 88-75 win over Arizona State, Romar became concerned that the Huskies defense was beginning to lag. The fact the problems festered in a victory hid some of the issues, but Arizona State became the first team all season to shoot 50 percent against Washington, including 60 percent on 3-pointers.
That was just the beginning. Washington State aggressively attacked the Huskies, the 87 points the Cougars posted the most allowed all season by Washington. Instead of rebounding against lowly Oregon State, the flat Huskies lost 68-56 last Thursday.
Everyone involved agreed the Huskies played better against Oregon last Saturday, but still suffered an 81-76 loss. The Huskies were again hampered by a defense that couldn’t get stops in the closing minutes after Washington dug itself a 10-point deficit with less than 8 minutes to go.
“(It’s) probably just pressure, just getting out and playing like we’re used to playing, denying wings and just things like that,” Thomas said. “It’s not like we’re a liability on defense, we’re just not giving the full effort that we can. We’ve seen it on tape, it’s embarrassing how you think you’re giving your all and you’re not. So we’re fixing things this week.”
If there is an upside for the Huskies, the gauntlet of their schedule seems to be over. They’ll play five of their final seven conference games at home with a trip to Arizona the only time the Huskies will play outside Seattle until the Pac-10 tournament.
“We kind of know what we have to do,” post Matthew Bryan- Amaning said. “I don’t think anything else needs to be said.”