The Best Washington Husky Basketball Players In The Lorenzo Romar Era

Originally Published:  April 14, 2012

Before Lorenzo Romar came to town, I was never really much of a Washington Husky basketball fan.  Though, I do remember being in high school on Thursday, March 19th, 1998, when Rip Hamilton ripped our guts out in the Sweet 16.  Aside from that shot, and the fact that Todd MacCulloch was on the team, I don’t remember much else from the Bob Bender era.  After that game, and the following season where we lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, three years of 8th and 9th place finishes sealed Bender’s fate.

Then, in 2002, we signed Lorenzo Romar.  And everything changed … though not right away.

Romar came to the Huskies with 6 seasons’ worth of head coaching experience, 3 with Pepperdine and 3 with Saint Louis.  In his 6 seasons, Romar had a 93-88 record, with one NIT and one NCAA Tournament appearance.  I can’t say that expectations were super-high for Romar coming to Montlake.  But, it turns out he exceeded those expectations beyond our wildest dreams.

That 2002/2003 team had some talent, but they weren’t quite there yet and we finished 9th again.  In his second season, however, we made it to the Big Dance.  What followed that underachieving first season was post-season appearances in every other season but one (2006/2007).  Six NCAA appearances in eight seasons, including three Sweet 16 appearances.  We’re 8-6 in the Tourney, and even though we haven’t been able to get past the Sweet 16 under Romar, it’s easy to realize just where he’s taken this program since he got here.

We’ve won two outright Pac-10/12 championships, we’ve won three other conference tournament championships.  He has coached at least six major NBA players (and another three at least who have had cups of coffee in the league), and that’s not counting Ross and Wroten, who both figure to be first round picks this year.

So, in honor of all the great Lorenzo Romar has brought to the Washington Huskies, I’m compiling a roster of 12 guys.  The greatest men’s Husky basketball players to play under Coach Romar.

The obvious place to start are the five guys who have not only gone on to make a dent in the NBA, but also made a significant dent with the University of Washington.  They are, in no particular order:

It’s a tad undersized, so I probably wouldn’t make that my Starting Five, but those are the five who are the most obvious choices to be on this All Romar Team.  All of them played at least three seasons in college and all of them got progressively better each and every season – a trademark of just about any Lorenzo Romar student athlete.

In the next grouping, I think these guys are almost just as obvious, but in this case we’re talking about critical role players Lorenzo Romar has cultivated over the years.  Again, in no particular order:

Even though Bobby Jones and Justin Holiday are essentially the same player, I’m including both of them on my team, because you can never have enough hard-nosed defenders.  I believe that, and I know Lorenzo Romar believes that.

I figured this team needed another true point guard (because, let’s face it, Nate Rob was many things for the Huskies, but a true point guard he was not).  It came down to Conroy and Justin Dentmon in my mind (with no apologies to Ryan Appleby), and while Dentmon might have had the better offensive numbers (especially in his Senior season), Conroy always had the better assist numbers.  Now, if Abdul Gaddy comes out next season and blows everyone away with his leadership abilities, then this might change after next season.  For now, Conroy is my guy.

And, to round things out, I needed a pure shooter.  THIS one came down to Simmons and C.J. Wilcox.  Granted, Simmons only played here for two seasons, but he was cash money while wearing the purple and gold.  Of course, should Wilcox come out next season and blow me away, he will rightly deserve a spot on this team.  Until then …

At this point, you’ll notice that no one on my team is taller than 6’7.  We need big men!  Unfortunately, what has plagued Lorenzo Romar throughout his tenure with this team is the fact that he can’t regularly get quality big men.  Sure, he got Spencer Hawes, but he was one-and-done so nuts to him.  Romar has had to take what he could get and do the best with what he had.  Therefore, the following two guys also make my team (until a day comes when we get someone better):

These might not be the most popular choices – especially MBA – but look at it rationally.  I’m not going to include any one-and-done players on my list (sorry Tony Wroten), and if you look at the rosters through the years, these two really ARE the best true big men he has coached.  If anyone wanted to see the genius of a Lorenzo Romar, look no further than the career trajectory of Matthew Bryan-Amaning.  He was positively DREADFUL in his first season with the Huskies.  Field Goal Percentage around 40%, rebounds per game around 3, minutes down around 14 per game.  Then, look at his Senior season!  28 minutes per game, nearly 55% from the field, and an even 8 rebounds per contest!  That’s the Lorenzo Romar Effect in a nutshell.  And, as for Aziz, he’s slowly but surely getting there.  In his second full season, he made the All Pac-12 Defensive Team.  Sure, he might get into foul trouble more often than not, but he will give other teams hell for about 20 minutes a game in the paint.

My 12th man isn’t going to some bottom-feeder who never played a lick of meaningful minutes (like Zane Potter or Brendan Sherrer).  There’s too much talent on the All Romar Team to waste on a pasty white guy.  This pick is more of a personal favorite.  Even though he left school early, he’s still made an impact on me.  And, I think he’ll fit on this team quite nicely.  He is:

Not a one-and-done, so he fits the mold I’ve set.  The only downside is thinking about the potential he had to be a Player of the Year candidate.

I think it’s a pretty decent squad.  Here it is again, from shortest to tallest:

  • Isaiah Thomas 5’8 (PG), 2008-2011
  • Nate Robinson 5’9 (PG/SG), 2002-2005
  • Will Conroy 6’1 (PG), 2001-2005
  • Brandon Roy 6’5 (G/F), 2002-2006
  • Tré Simmons 6’5 (SG), 2003-2005
  • Justin Holiday 6’6 (SF), 2007-2011
  • Terrence Ross 6’6 (SG/SF), 2010-2012
  • Bobby Jones 6’7 (SF), 2002-2006
  • Quincy Pondexter 6’7 (SF), 2006-2010
  • Jon Brockman 6’7 (PF), 2005-2009
  • Matthew Bryan-Amaning 6’9 (PF), 2007-2011
  • Aziz N’Diaye 7’0 (C), 2010 – Present

Now, if I’m picking a true Starting Five, to compete against actual teams, it’s looking something like this:

  1. Nate Robinson (PG)
  2. Brandon Roy (SG)
  3. Quincy Pondexter (SF)
  4. Jon Brockman (PF)
  5. Aziz N’Diaye (C)

You get Aziz in there to be a load in the paint.  You’ve got lots of great scoring in our guards and small forward, and you’ve got stellar defense & rebounding out of our forwards.

Now, if you want to play matchups, you’ve got a whole world to play with.  Need to go small and run up the score?  Try this lineup:

  1. Will Conroy
  2. Isaiah Thomas
  3. Tré Simmons
  4. Terrence Ross
  5. Bobby Jones

Want to clamp down defensively?

  1. Isaiah Thomas
  2. Justin Holiday
  3. Bobby Jones
  4. Quincy Pondexter
  5. Aziz N’Diaye

Anyway, that’s it.  These are the Lorenzo Romar All Stars.  I’ll update it accordingly in the years to come.

To close things out, for your information, is Lorenzo Romar’s career record with the Washington Huskies:

2002/200310-17 (5-13), 9th in Pac-10
2003/200419-12 (12-6), 2nd in Pac-10, lost NCAA first round to UAB 102-100
2004/200529-6 (14-4), 2nd in Pac-10*, lost NCAA Sweet 16 to Louisville 93-79
2005/200626-7 (13-5), 2nd in Pac-10, lost NCAA Sweet 16 to Connecticut 98-92 (OT)
2006/200719-13 (8-10), 7th in Pac-10
2007/200816-17 (7-11), 8th in Pac-10, lost CBI first round to Valparaiso 72-71
2008/200926-9 (14-4), 1st in Pac-10, lost NCAA second round to Purdue 76-74
2009/201026-10 (11-7), 3rd in Pac-10*, lost NCAA Sweet 16 to West Virginia 69-56
2010/201124-11 (11-7), 3rd in Pac-10*, lost NCAA second round to North Carolina 86-83
2011/201224-11 (14-4), 1st in Pac-12, lost NIT Final Four to Minnesota 68-67 (OT)

* – won Pac-10 Conference Tournament

One thought on “The Best Washington Husky Basketball Players In The Lorenzo Romar Era

  1. Pingback: Don’t Be Stupid: The Huskies Should Never Fire Lorenzo Romar | Seattle Sports Hell

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