Huskies one win away from program history, Romar vindication

That's called a conference tournament trophy. Lorenzo Romar has delivered one three times.

On an annual basis, Lorenzo Romar just might be one of the most maligned individuals in the Seattle Sports community. Those who criticize him will point to an apparent lack of Xs and Os ability. The lack of consistency. Constant under achieving of a roster full of clear NBA talent. Some might even criticize his ability to recruit talent.

Earlier this season might have been the worst. With two sure fire first round picks in his back court, LoRo and crew embarrassed themselves in out of conference. South Dakota State, Saint Louis, Nevada, all handed Washington an L. Marquette and Duke, Washington competed, but mental errors held them back.

There was a clear lack of leadership, and while the athleticism and talent was there, this was going to be Lorenzo’s biggest test yet when it came to putting it all together by the time the season came to a close, as he usually does.

Fast forward the clock to March and Lorenzo Romar is the one who should be maligning his critics right now. His Huskies go in to Saturday morning’s game with UCLA with an opportunity to make program history.

If Washington defeats UCLA, the team will in all likelihood clinch its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance – granting Darnell Gant the ability to call himself the only UW player ever to dance in every season as a Husky.

The Washington Huskies will clinch their second outright conference championship in four years. Prior to this the Huskies had ever only won one outright title in the history of the conference. Add to that the two conference tournament championships Lorenzo has under his belt from the last two season, defeating each of the two regular season champions from those years on the way, and you could say that that’s four in a row for LoRo with championship accolades.

Nevermind the number one seed year in 2004-05 when Washington finished second in the conference by one game to Arizona, only to defeat them in the conference tournament and claim the championship there.

Whether 2011-012 is a down year in the Pac-12 or not, this isn’t any small feat. I don’t want to hear excuses about any other teams in the conference. Arizona, UCLA, Cal and Oregon have the same Pac-12 conference status and resources to boot to put a team on the court on par with Washington. It’s not our fault that eleven other teams in this conference have failed to field a team as talented as the University of Washington. All UW does is play the games, and a win against UCLA would give Washington a 15-3 record against such teams.

Second outright conference championship in four years. All but locks UW in for a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, its seventh under Lorenzo Romar.

History.

What more do you want from Lorenzo Romar? What more do you want from this program? Does this program need to consistently be in the top 25? Do they consistently need to be competing for top three seeds in the NCAA Tournament?

Lorenzo Romar last year had his team on the brink of defeating the Tar Heels not more than 200 miles away from their Chapel Hill campus. The year before that Lorenzo Romar had his team in the sweet 16 against final four competitor West Virginia. A run to the sweet 16 suggests that Washington deserves to be in the discussion for being a top 20 team in the nation. For Romar to be 5 for his last 5 in first round games proves that Washington deserves to be in the NCAA Tournament the years that they are.

For there to be an aura of discontent around the program just may be a telling sign of how far the Huskies have come from the days of Bob Bender, where one good team every three or four years was cause for celebration around Montlake. It’s actually very awesome. Husky basketball used to be a casual afterthought compared to the football program here. While Washington will still always be a football school first and foremost, Lorenzo Romar has made this program perpetually matter. There are expectations now.

Considering how this fan base behaves when it comes to football expectations, it’s no surprise those feelings would be reciprocated on to the basketball court as well.

What tomorrow morning’s basketball game really signals is a solidified culture change around Husky basketball that some of us may not take time to take a step back and realize.

Husky basketball is one win away from unprecedented territory.

Savor it.

Lorenzo Romar by the numbers:

  • .662 winning percentage overall – .605 in Conference
  • 8 winning seasons (2 losing seasons)
  • Six 20-win seasons (including 2012)
  • 5-1 in NCAA Tournament first round games,  8-6 overall NCAA Tournament record
  • Five conference championships (3 tournament, 2009 outright, 2012 shared-at least)

Romar gets his dougie on. Or is it the Cat daddy? Maybe he's stanky legging. Whatever, All he does is Win!