I have heard cocky statements before but the latest from up north is up there with any of them. In preparing for tonight's game against UCLA on ESPN at 6 p.m. PST, Washington's head coach Lorenzo Romar stated the following (emphasis mine):
Coach Lorenzo Romar summed up the Huskies' main objective pretty succinctly Tuesday.
"Not to get bored with success," he said. "To understand why we got better and not try to experiment at this point."
Well I guess, according to the Huskies, the game is already over unless the Huskies get bored. We have lost every game at Washington since 2004 but there is no respect, fear, or even worry about UCLA tonight. UCLA is not a big deal to the Washington Huskies:
[Huskies' back-up PF Darnell] Gant, a Los Angeles native, said he's not surprised by UCLA's struggles this season. "I didn't think they were going to be as great as the media was making them out to be," he said. "... I didn't think they should be ranked in the (preseason top 25). I didn't think they were that good. But they're a decent team. They got a lot of hype early, but that wasn't a shock to me that they were struggling."
Former UCLA assistant coach Lorenzo Romar was not surprised either by UCLA's struggles but did say a few other nice things when not worrying about being bored:
"When you look at the inner dynamics of their team, I wouldn't say it would surprise me but you could see it happening. . . . I think they addressed the issue and now they're playing much better. . . .
"They're sharing the ball as well as they have all year and they're playing very, very efficient offense. We said that about Cal when we were getting ready to play Cal. Right now they're right there with the way they're playing. They're cutting and screening. Finding the open man and slipping screens. They're doing a really nice job."
Well the football team used to be called the "gutty little Bruins," so now I guess in the eyes of Romar's Huskies we are the "nice boring Bruins."
The Bruins will have more motivation then just Romar's boredom comment. They will also have a loud crowd that will be after them, especially Josh:
"I thought he played great last year. He had 16 boards, most he's had in his career. They're going to be there on him again yelling at him. Hopefully it's motivation for him."
The Bruins are preparing for the crowd and hoping this time will finally be different:
"It's really loud," Howland said. So loud, he said, that during timeouts, "we have cards so the players can communicate by reading versus verbal."
UCLA players know what awaits them Thursday night.
"They get on a run and their crowd really gets going," UCLA guard Tyler Lamb said.
UCLA is 1-7 at Washington under Howland. The Bruins are 46-25 on the road against the rest of the conference.
Of course we are 1-4 on the road this year in conference. However, what won't be different for UCLA is Travis Wear at center.
"He's a good scorer. I think he's a hard matchup when he's playing the five for other fives to guard him. he's really a four being defended by a five. He's getting high percentage shots - his teammates are hitting. he had four dunks on Saturday and Jerime hit him for two of them - he seems to be in right place at right time."
Or trying a zone change up. On a Bruin TV press conference earlier this week, when asked about utilizing the zone, Coach Howland stated:
"There is no telling we could bring it back. . . . We have been focusing on our Man. . . .."
[Follow up question from unnamed reporter] Are you working on the zone in practice?
Thus, Ben Howland has given up on making the defense better since there will be no more zone and with Travis Wear and Joshua Smith taking most of the minutes at center (thus, leaving only a few minutes at most for the best low-post and help defender on this roster, Anthony Stover).
So there you have it. Maybe there is a reason that the Huskies' biggest worry is being bored with their success. I hope Howland knows what he is doing and makes Washington pay. Boredom is not an issue for me. I liked UCLA under Howland when it was winning "boring" low scoring games. I am more worried about anger when Howland stubbornly refuses to play the players in the manner that can help his defense.
Here's to hoping Lorenzo and I are wrong and UCLA finally beats the Huskies tonight.