SEATTLE — The re-examination for Lorenzo Romar actually started after the 2012 season when Washington won the Pac-12 Conference regular season only to be left out of the NCAA tournament.
But the reevaluation for Romar never stopped with the Huskies going 18-16 last season, missing the NCAA tournament again after being beset by injuries, a lack of depth and players failing to meet expectations.
So as the Huskies begin the 2013-14 season, change is abound, from new additions to the coaching staff to a roster that including six new faces that were not able to play for the program a season ago.
“There is a lot of newness here right now,” Romar said on Tuesday during Washington’s media day.
The Huskies begin practice in earnest early next week when Romar can start fully figuring out what all this newness will mean on the court. Washington beings the season with an exhibition against Central Washington on Nov. 6 and starts the regular season Nov. 10 against Seattle.
Romar believes Washington will be deeper, have more consistent scoring options and be able to return to the fast, aggressive style of play that Washington has been known for with Romar in charge. That style became more tentative a season ago. With few consistent scoring options outside of guard C.J. Wilcox, the Huskies averaged just 67.9 points last season, the lowest since 2000-01 season and the only time during Romar’s tenure Washington has failed to score at least 72 points per game.
“Last year we didn’t have the bodies to attack the way he wanted to. We had a lot of guys hurt and a lot of guys practicing all practice and playing 38 minutes per game so it’s hard to attack the way he wanted,” Wilcox said. “But we have a deep bench this year and I think it’s going to allow us to play more up-tempo and attack more.”
Washington lost three of its four leading scorers from last year, but the return of Wilcox gives the Huskies a deadly shooter from the perimeter that was somewhat limited all of last season troubled by his foot. Wilcox had surgery in May on his left foot to stabilize a stress fracture in the offseason and is being brought along slowly during the start of practices with the plan he’ll be full go when the season begins.
Wilcox felt that most of last season he was slightly impaired from being able to play as aggressively as he wanted because of the foot.
“I tried not to let it affect me too much but every game you go in thinking it could break tonight,” Wilcox said. “So you play hard but you’re not as aggressive as you normally would be just worrying that it could break.”
Romar raved Tuesday about the addition of 6-foot-9 forward Perris Blackwell and what he can provide on the interior to open up the perimeter for Wilcox and the Huskies other guards. Blackwell transferred to Washington after playing three seasons at San Francisco. Blackwell sat out last season and learned how he can fit into the Huskies high-post offense.
“It’s been feeling pretty good to practice every day and knowing that I’m practicing to play now, not just to get better,” Blackwell said.
Along with Blackwell, the Huskies are also high on freshman Nigel Williams-Goss. The McDonald’s All-American may slide right into the Huskies starting lineup thanks to his steady play and vast experience for a freshman. Williams-Goss played his entire high school career for powerhouse Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., and then spent part of this summer playing for the USA at the FIBA U-19 World Championships.
“I think it was a good stepping stone in between high school and college to play with guys who have been in college a year or two years, practicing with them … It’s definitely helped me and I learned so much from that experience,” Williams-Goss said.