Pending the results of the next two games, obviously. Because to get this far, then lose to the worst team in the conference (USC), followed by a team in turmoil (UCLA), would be a great way to kill any coach of the year momentum.
The arguments against Romar are few: he’s got a roster filled with future NBA stars (likely three, maybe even up to four). That’s nice and everything, but that doesn’t automatically make you a championship team. The NBA talent the Huskies currently have isn’t equal to the NBA talent across the country (like, say, Kentucky). First of all, you have to look at the role players around that NBA talent. I would argue that Kentucky’s role players are far more impressive than those on the Huskies. The Huskies have three guys who can score on a regular basis; the rest of the guys do what they can, but they’re not exactly world-beaters. Plus, you have to factor in how thin our team is depth-wise. We frequently run with a 7-man rotation (Gaddy, Wroten, Aziz, Gant, Ross, Simmons, Wilcox) with cursory minutes going to guys like Seferian-Jenkins and Shawn Kemp Jr. Aside from the big three (Wroten, Ross, & Wilcox), you will STRUGGLE to find a guy who is currently playing at even a D-League level. That isn’t to say those other guys won’t blossom; that’s just saying that, right now, this is what Romar has to deal with. And he’s KILLING it.
The arguments for Romar winning the Coach of the Year award are many. At the top of the heap, you have to talk about the veterans we lost.
This Husky team lost four MAJOR contributors to last year’s team! IT was our team leader, MBA was our primary big man, Holiday was a Jack-of-all-trades who was also a lockdown defender for guards and forwards alike, and Overton was a lockdown defender for the other team’s best guard. Overton was also our all-world 6th man who could run the offense in IT’s absence (however brief they were last season) or when IT needed a spell from running the show.
In their place, we have Gant as our only senior who plays regular minutes (and even those tend to fluctuate thanks to foul trouble). Gaddy is in his third season, but he spent the last half of last season coming back from surgery. Aziz is in his second season in D-I ball. Ross is in his second season, but he played a minor role on last year’s team until tournament time. Wilcox made a name for himself last year after red-shirting the year before, but he’s still fairly new to the system. And Simmons red-shirted last year. Everyone else, including our leading scorer, are brand spankin’ new players.
Regardless of their collective talent, it’s MIGHTY difficult to mix and match a bunch of new and young guys into a unit that can win you some ballgames. You’ve got to get everyone on the same page scheme-wise, get everyone to learn the defense, find the floor matchups that work best, set up a rotation that gives guys enough minutes to keep them fresh and improve their overall games.
THEN, tack on the early-season turmoil with our 6-5 start. Coming back from such a mediocre-to-poor non-conference schedule to potentially go 15-3 and win the Pac-12 conference outright is nothing short of amazing. You’d have to figure that, with the talent we have, the Huskies would be a better team than they were in those first 11 games; but to be THIS good against this conference (regardless of how “down” it is, these teams are still hated rivals and are giving us their best effort every time out) is better than I could have possibly imagined.
Now, look at the other head coaches being talked about for this award. Arizona? I’m sorrry, but we beat that team twice this season. That should automatically take Sean Miller out of the running. Colorado? Come back to me when they win a road game. Cal? Seriously, how difficult of a road have they faced? Their most-impressive win was the game @ Washington (we never had a chance to play them on their home court to see if we could return the favor). But, you’re talking about a team in Cal who is pretty much the opposite of Washington. They RETAINED all of their veteran leadership from last season! They didn’t have a bunch of new guys coming in to learn a new offense and a new defense. They didn’t have to tinker early in the season to see which players played best together. They got to keep right on truckin’. AND, in spite of all of that, they still couldn’t do what we’ve done thus far to date. If we do what we’re supposed to do and win these next two games, the Huskies will win the Pac-12 conference outright. Cal couldn’t do that! The best they can hope for is a tie (because, seriously, there’s no way we’re losing both of these games).
Give it to Romar. The man has earned it this season.
Unless, of course, this team loses its next two games. Then, forget everything I just said. Coach of the Year candidates don’t go to the NIT.