Some of you might be thinking, “Isn’t it time we read about a new head coach at Washington?” And your feelings would be valid (they’re always valid here, guys). He’s coached four progressively worse teams, had character (Robert Upshaw) and transfer/departure issues (Nigel Williams-Goss, Jernard Jarreau), has seen a steady decline in attendance, and hasn’t recruited at nearly the level he once did (ya know, like NBA players). That opening question is valid. But Lorenzo Romar is still the head coach at Washington. And this season he’s bringing…optimism? We have to be future thinking but Romar has a Top-10 class on campus right now, and another lined up for next season. You can’t tell me that anyone other than Lorenzo Romar would have Markelle Fultz – a Top-10 recruit – committing to move to Washington from Maryland. He’s a summer commit to the class of 2016. That is rare. Arizona only just got their first 2016 commitment. And Romar swooped him from Kentucky, Arizona and Louisville. In a day and age when CBB rosters are fluid, when roster management is a year-in-year-out endeavor, Romar appears to have set himself up for some annualized success. Something he hasn’t had in nearly half a decade.
Why I love them
The aforementioned future(s) is reason to love. The Dawgs welcome a class of freshmen seemingly primed to be the type of athletes and talents gushing up and down the HecEd floor. The kind of stuff we’re used to from Romar teams. They’ll be guided by a senior, fifth year guard Andrew Andrews, who’s shown flashes of All-Conference skill. Talent + experience is often something to be excited for. They’re young – very young – but Romar isn’t shying away from this. He’s taking the likely youngest team in the nation to play the first ever regular season athletic event (collegiate or professional) in China (vs. Texas). They’ll also head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis (Syracuse, UConn, Gonzaga, UT, TAMU, and Charlotte) with a guaranteed game against Gonzaga and the winner of UT/TAMU. This team will be battle tested; if not old enough to buy liquor.
Why I hate them
They won’t be good. There’s a reason LoRo has an eight man recruiting class: they had no one on the roster! There’s nothing but inexperience and youth. From here out they’ll be known as the Puppies. And while, by all accounts, this is a talented incoming lot, I see very few ways in which this is a fiercely competitive team. What’s interesting (if not unsettling) is that Washington teams have fallen apart in the latter half – or at least Pac-12 play – of each of the last two seasons:
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While that’s an alarming trajectory for each of those seasons, can you imagine if that’s the case with this young team? It would suggest they’ve learned nothing. Or never gelled as a squad. Or that maybe they just really stink. It would ultimately suggest that Romar has lost his touch on this program and it could mark change.
Stat you must know: 12
Across 13 scholarships the Huskies will have played a collective 12 seasons of college basketball. Based on last seasons “experience” stat on KenPom, that would roughly rank them as the 330th most experienced team in CBB. As a reminder, there are 351 teams (read: inexperienced).
What I learned at media day
Malik Dime is the best speaker of Mandarin on the team. He’s already bilingual.
Rock top (best case scenario)
The trip to China goes so well that Romar is asked to be an Ambassador. He’s the spokesperson for Weibo and the Yen soars! The international experience is unifying and the Puppies swiftly turn into Dawgs. The Wayans brothers announce that The 6th Man was loosely based on a true story as told by a spirit “booster” committed to the success of Washington basketball. They make their first NCAA tournament since 2011.