Nov 30, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) reacts after being fouled against the TCU Horned Frogs during a game at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. TCU won 86-71. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
Washington basketball has started the season at 4-3 and are looking at another disappointing season.
Head coach Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies have been struggling to stay afloat in the Pac-12 for many seasons now. The likes of Isaiah Thomas gave life to the program, but the Huskies haven’t reached the Big Dance since 2011.
Since then, the Huskies haven’t necessarily gone completely downhill, but the program definitely hasn’t progressed.
With the football team in the playoffs, it sheds some light on the issues that the basketball program is having. The Huskies currently sit at 4-3 with losses with TCU (twice) and Yale. For a team that was supposed to compete in the middle of the Pac-12, this is as disappointing of a start as you can have.
Their recruiting has been strong, but the coaching and player development has been subpar. What needs to be done to correct the issues at hand?
Oct 21, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar during Pac-12 men’s basketball media day at Pac-12 Conference/Pac-12 Networks. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Better coaching tactics?
Lorenzo Romar has been the head coach of the Washington Huskies for the last 15 years. In his first nine seasons, the Huskies made six NCAA Tournaments.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, the Huskies haven’t made a single appearance in the Big Dance under Romar. In fact, they have only made the NIT three times.
Washington has never made it past a regional semifinal and there could be changes on the sideline if Romar doesn’t it turn it around rather quickly.
Another issue under the realm of coaching could be player development. The Huskies don’t have an issue finding talent, but they do have a problem with developing talent. They’ve had eight players go on to the NBA, but those players had very little production in the college ranks.
Jan 28, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins guard Bryce Alford (20) shoots over the Washington Huskies defense during the second half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive intensity is needed
One of the main problems with the Huskies is their defense. Opponents don’t seem to have an issue scoring on this team. The Huskies lost twice to a below average TCU squad and Yale came to town and dropped 98 points on Lorenzo Romar’s team.
Their only four wins came against mid-major Division I schools and even those games have ended in close calls. For example, Long Beach State shot 53 percent from the floor and 59 percent from three against the Huskies. Washington won’t survive in Pac-12 play with a lack of defensive energy.
Feb 6, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar looks at the referees as they talk about a call during the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Alaska Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
More non-conference competition
This cannot be fixed this season, but the Huskies must take this into future consideration.
To be the best, you have to beat the best. The Huskies simply aren’t seeking out the best competition. Their non-conference strength of schedule is 230th in the country and with the Pac-12 having somewhat of a down year, the committee will obviously take their lack of quality wins (and games in general) into consideration.
Nov 30, 2016; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) is fouled by TCU Horned Frogs guard Malique Trent (3) during the second half at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. TCU won 86-81. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
One of the few bright spots is the freshman Markelle Fultz. Fultz is averaging 22.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game. This kid is so unique that there is no true player comparison for him just yet. Fultz glides with the ball in his hands and he’s an underrated passer.
Next season, the Washington Huskies also have Michael Porter Jr. coming to Seattle. They also have three other four-star recruits, Daejon Davis, Jaylen Nowell and Mamoudou Diarra.