SEATTLE – Lorenzo Romar anticipated the question before it was asked. The University of Washington men’s basketball coach hears it at about this time every year.
Where will you get your inside scoring next season?
Now that Matthew Bryan-Amaning, who led the Huskies in scoring during Pac-10 games this season, has played his final game at UW, Romar has a 6-foot, 9-inch question mark in the lane.
And it’s not the first time.
“It seems the last three years that we’ve dealt with that issue,” Romar said Tuesday, during his annual end-of-the-season press conference. “When Jon Brockman left (two years ago), it was: ‘How are you going to replace him?’ When Quincy (Pondexter) left (after last season): ‘How are you going to replace him?’ Every year, it seems like it’s something that’s difficult to replace … but we’ve done it in different ways.”
The truth is, replacing quality big men is a problem for just about every team in college basketball. Ohio State might be looking for the next Jared Sullinger soon. Kansas might have to replace one, or both, of the Morris twins. North Carolina’s frontcourt of 7-foot Tyler Zeller and 6-10 John Henson might be playing in the NBA next season.
And so the Huskies, who appear to have a glut of perimeter talent returning next season but only two established big men, have company in their big-man misery.
The initial reaction after UW bowed out of the NCAA tournament after only two games is that a team that brings back three point guards (Abdul Gaddy, Isaiah Thomas and incoming freshman Tony Wroten Jr.), five wing players (Scott Suggs, C.J. Wilcox, Terrence Ross, redshirt Desmond Simmons and incoming freshman Hikeem Stewart) and only two established big men that averaged a combined 9.8 points per game last season isn’t big enough to contend for much.
But Romar believes the frontcourt might not be as big a problem as it may appear, even if the Huskies don’t add another body to go with 7-footer Aziz N’Diaye, 6-foot-8 Darnell Gant and incoming freshman Jernard Jarrou.
“We’re still looking to go out and find someone else,” said Romar, who doesn’t currently have any available scholarships to give, “but in this program, players have stepped up and done a good job of stepping up in someone else’s absence.”
Gant and N’Diaye are the only two true big men returning from this year’s team, but Romar has confidence that others will emerge. He named Jarrou, a 6-foot-10 post from New Orleans who needs to add bulk.
“We beat out Kentucky and North Carolina to get him,” Romar said. “The assumption is that he cannot play, and nothing could be further from the truth.”