In our exclusive interview with Washington Huskies men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar, we discuss what pressure means to him, how he relaxes away from the game and more.
Whenever you speak to anyone about Lorenzo Romar, most people agree that he is one of the most level-headed, calm people you will ever meet – no mean feat, given his chosen profession. Further, current and former players alike agree that you can’t tell whether the Washington Huskies have just won or lost, given how he talks and carries himself in the locker room after games. (Interestingly, this is something the late, great Chuck Noll was renowned for.)
Upon meeting Romar, his relaxed, steady demeanor is apparent. In addition, he has an innate ability to immediately put you at ease.
He seems vaguely amused by my characterization of him as one cool cat. (Yes, I regretted saying it the moment the words left my mouth.) However, people can often appear calm on the surface, while falling to pieces or struggling to maintain their composure internally.
Now, throw in five seasons without an appearance at the NCAA Tournament and surely there has to be some degree of pressure attached to the situation, right? Apparently not.
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Romar said: “It depends on how you define pressure. When you talk about a pressure where I can’t sleep and I’m going to start drinking or smoking, this is nothing like that.”
Already I’ve been drawn in, but the 58-year old is only just getting started: “Pressure in terms of you’re a competitor, you’re leading this program, you want it to be the best it can be, there’s a competitive internal drive that wants to make sure you get there. But it’s not pressure, it’s competitive drive – there’s a difference.”
Almost inevitably, this leads to a conversation about the part the media plays in cranking up the intensity. This season is no different, with analysts — and fans — saying the coach has to go, if the Huskies once again fail to qualify for March Madness.
Still though, Romar sees no need to get wound up by the situation, citing that no matter what you do, it will never be enough for some people: “When we were winning, we went to two Sweet 16’s in a row and they said we can’t make the Final Four.
“If I’m into pressure, we just went to two Sweet 16’s in a row at the University of Washington, and yet you’re not satisfied? I can’t worry about that – we did something that just doesn’t really happen here.”
It would be so easy for someone to become resentful and agitated by the whole situation — and a lot of coaches do — but the South Gate, California native is used to it all. It helps that he spent six years in the NBA, after being drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 1980.
As such, Romar refuses to let anything, or indeed anyone, affect him: “I get it and I understand, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m not putting that pressure on myself. It’s a competitive drive, that every time you step on the floor you want to prepare to be the best you can.”
There’s no doubt the three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year’s mindset is as impressive as it is amazing. The question is, has he always been like this – able to deal with things so admirably?
Romar laughs: “I was definitely not like that when I was younger. When I was 25, I become a Christian.
“After studying the bible, it was just putting everything into perspective. God has a plan for my life, that I need to try and be obedient to what he would want.
“In terms of the work place, be the best that I can be, and I don’t have to do more than that. All I can do is be the best that I can be and after that, let the chips fall where they may.”
It’s clear to see the former point guard has a great passion for basketball, even after all these years. However, I’m interested to know what he does to relax and a big part of it comes down to his loving wife of 33 years.
Romar said: “We have three daughters, and they’re all out of the house. They’re all grown up, so it’s just my wife and I.
“We record and watch old movies, we play games, we go out to eat, we just hang out. Really, our relationship is such that it is therapeutic for me, so during the season I still do that.”
However, basketball is never too far away from the Husky alumni’s thoughts: “I also watch a lot of film and for me, as crazy as it sounds, watching film is therapeutic for me. It’s relaxing.”
It’s nearly time to go our separate ways, leaving just enough time to ask Romar if he has given any thought to how much longer he wants to coach for: “I have no intention of quitting now.
“At some point, I may no longer have the same desire. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but I hope it isn’t for a very long time.”
And with that, one of the most sincere and classy people you will ever meet is sauntering off towards the court, as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. Pressure? What pressure?
What are your thoughts on Romar’s time as coach of the Huskies? What has been your highlight of his tenure? Further, what kind of success are you predicting for him and the team this season? Let us know in the comments section below.