Washington Huskies Basketball: Patience Wearing Extremely Thin

Jan 29, 2017; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar watches from the sideline during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center. Arizona won 77-66. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2017; Tucson, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar watches from the sideline during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center. Arizona won 77-66. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports /

With the losses continue to build up, how much longer can Lorenzo Romar realistically hold onto his position as head coach for the Washington Huskies?

As Mike Salk pointed out the other day on 710 ESPN, Lorenzo Romar is a good guy. Salk went on to say you almost feel compelled to point this out, any time you criticize the head coach of the Washington Huskies.

As such, let’s make something perfectly clear before we proceed any further – Romar is one of the classiest people you will ever meet in the sporting world. And for anyone who thinks I’m being flippant, please refer to the one-on-one interview I had with him prior to the season.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s get on with my reason for writing this particular column. It’s time for change, which means parting company with the three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

If that sounds harsh, it should be stressed I’ve always stood up for Romar in the past. Even in the face of demands for him to step down last season, I wrote that he deserved another chance to turn around the program.

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Well, the 58-year old was given that chance and you could argue things are worse than ever. In fact, he’s on course for his worst campaign since his first season in charge, with a shot at his worst ever record in conference play.

Even having Markelle Fultz in the lineup has done little to help the Huskies, and this is with the young superstar arguable exceeding the hype. Barring a major miracle, UW will miss the NCAA tournament for a sixth consecutive season.

No one’s denying what Romar has meant to the Huskies, after coming in and rejuvenating the fortunes of the basketball program. However, frustration is growing, with Wednesday’s 82-74 loss to USC only increasing the calls for him to be fired.

Even as the Huskies saw their conference record fall to 2-8, the South Gate, California native still thinks there’s reason for optimism. He’s convinced the program is getting back on track, after adjusting to the early departures of Dejounte Murray and Marquese Chriss following the 2015-16 season.

Speaking to Larry Stone of The Seattle Times, Romar said: “We were thinking, ‘Wow, Dejounte and Marquese are really good, and the following year Markelle and the other guys will join them, and it would have been the second year (removed) from eight players leaving, and us being kind of dysfunctional … we’re back on track.’

“Well, Dejounte and Marquese leave, so we stall a little bit, (but) now we have another group coming in that, in my opinion, one through five, is better than the seven that were here before. Because of those reasons, I just feel like the ship is being righted, and that we’re going to be all right.”

Washington Huskies
Jan 25, 2017; Tempe, AZ, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar talks with Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) during the first half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Wells-Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

No doubt a lot of Huskies’ fans will become riled, when the 1980 Golden State Warriors’ draft pick preaches patience. Regardless, he genuinely believes things are about to improve.

Romar said: “They’re getting it now. So now, with this experience, they’ll be upperclassmen.”

“I’ve just seen too many guys go from sophomores to juniors and make that jump. That’s why I’m optimistic — and still optimistic about this year.”

However, one of the main reasons for (finally) feeling disillusioned about having the former NBA point guard remain in charge, comes down to already wasting plenty of opportunities with top-level ability. Since the Huskies’ NCAA tournament drought began, they have seen five of their players get selected in the first round of the NBA draft.

Whether it’s fair to point this out or not, Fultz is set to be just the latest example of Romar’s inability to take advantage of the talent at his disposal. With this in mind, is he really capable of producing positive results moving forward, even with the incoming 2017 class being ranked number two in the nation on signing day?

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It can’t be stressed enough, there would be absolutely zero issue with being proved wrong on all of this. Further, you have to wonder if the former UCLA assistant will be given another opportunity anyway, regardless of how this season pans out?

As most fans are keenly aware, the 2017 class includes Michael Porter Jr., who is ranked as the top recruit in ESPN’s top 100 high school players. With his dad and long-time friend of Romar currently on the Huskies’ coaching staff, how would this be affected by changing head coaches?

As Stone points out, athletic director Jen Cohen may feel the risk of losing Porter (and his younger brother Jontay, who is a four-star recruit for the 2018 class) is too great. Further, for a program already running at a deficit, it would cost them another $3.2 million to buy out Romar, if he is fired before next season.

The problem is, if these are the only tangible reasons for holding onto the three-time Pac-10 tournament champion head coach, it’s a risky game to play. What does it matter, if he continues his recent trend of being unable to get positive results, despite having access to top-level talent?

Overall, my guilt-ridden opinion is that it’s time for the Huskies to take a different path, but only after Romar plays out the remainder of this season. Hopefully he can somehow turn results around and prove all the doubters (new and old alike) wrong – something which most of us would have absolutely no issue with.

Next: Accolades Keep Coming for Markelle Fultz

Whether you’re a Huskies’ fan or not, what’s your position regarding Romar? Can you make a justified reason for keeping him as head coach, or do you believe it’s time for him to step aside? Share your thoughts in the comments section.