Lorenzo Romar and Steve Sarkisian are good coaches. They have both taken their programs from being borderline terrible, to having some decency and relevance in the college sports world.
Both guys are very similar in their demeanor as well. Both are “nice” guys who prefer a laid back approach to their coaching style, opposed to the hard nosed, discipline approach that some others take when rebuilding a program. Romar has been the Husky hoops head coach for over 10 years now, coaching since 2002. Sark has been the Husky football head coach since 2009.
Both guys are currently leading a program that has been described as disappointing, considering the lofty expectations that the university has for each coach.
Let’s start with Sarkisian.
Earlier today, the Huskies defeated the Cougars 27-17, and are 8-4 for the first time in the Sarkisian era. Thus far, I think it’s safe to say that while Sark has been far from disappointing, he still has not gotten to the point where most Huskies fans want the program to be after 4 years. While he’s had a few decent seasons he has not gotten the Huskies back to a “relevant” bowl game just yet. The Huskies have also continued to lose to their bitter rival, Oregon, and have yet to even come close.
To quote the words of the Starks in the north, Winter is coming Sark….and time is running out with Husky fans patience.
While going 7-6, 8-5, etc…year after year is sort of nice, it’s not ultimately where the program needs to be. Husky fans can’t bear another promising season, only to have the team collapse in the middle, only to gather themselves to rack up a few decent wins to get them in a middle-tier bowl game. This year, I believe Sark saved himself by claiming “progress”. They are 8-4 for the first time as I mentioned, and that should be enough to save his job….as well it should.
But Sark knows that Husky nation deserves better than average. They deserve a GREAT team. A team that can go at least 9-3, play in a bowl game that has some sort of national prestige, and finish the season ranked.
Personally, I feel Sark is a very good coach, I’m just not sure if he’s THAT guy. He benefitted from taking over an 0-12 team (after all, the only place to go from the bottom is up), but he has yet to prove he can be as masterful a coach as we were once led to believe. More importantly, the Huskies have lacked any sort of identity under Sark. Are we a smashmouth Stanford type of team? Or more of a finesse ground/aerial assault on the likes of Oregon? Luckily Sark now has a defense he can lean on, so the pressure on him is less than in the past.
Sark deserves next season, but he should not get super comfortable at this point.
As for Romar and the Husky hoops program, something is very broken.
I don’t believe Romar is a very good X’s and O’s guy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Romar is a good motivator, as well as a developer. He seems to thrive on being able to coach guys to their potential. Quincy Pondexter, Brockman, Brandon Roy, Isiah Thomas, etc…are all guys who were raw to begin, but ended up being more complete players once Romar got his hooks into them. He is great at coaching individual players, I just don’t think he’s still figured out how to make all those players play nice with each other.
Even when the Huskies were a “good” team, my biggest problem watching them play, is that their fundamentals sucked. Contrast that to watching a team like Duke, UNC, or even as much as I hate them, Kentucky. They all seem to play together, and work towards getting easy buckets down low. Can’t say that about a Romar team. A Romar team is mostly dribble-drive and kick…hoping that a special player like Tony Wroten, Isiah Thomas or Brandon Roy can make a great play…or hope that a guy who can shoot can get an open look because of that players ability.
But when you don’t have “that dude”…things can get very difficult. This current team doesn’t have a player that can truly create his own shot, or for others. Maybe Nigel Williams-Goss or Andrew Andrews…who has the most questionable name ever, will be that guy….but a Romar team needs that guy now.
Romar needs an assistant coach that knows how to draw up plays, and have the players execute them. Romar’s strength is his ability to develop and mentor players. I think he is good with fundamentals, but can’t be counted on to run a well cohesive offense.
Unfortunately, Romar has also been getting his butt kicked where I thought he would be more successful. I follow recruiting pretty closely…perhaps even closer than the actual season. Romar has definitely gotten out recruited consistently over the past few years. Plain and simple, Sean Miller in Arizona has been kicking his butt. Kaleb T and Aaron Gordon are just a few guys that have decided to take the Wildcat route, though were heavily recruited by UW.
Basketball is a lot about talent. These other teams are simply more talented than the Huskies right now….and even great coaches might have trouble getting teams with little talent, to beat those with lots of it.
Luckily for Romar, the pressure to win UW hoops isn’t as great as it is the football program. Basketball has always been the afterthought at UW, but he needs to find his bearings and get the team back into the big dance once day….and not only that, but make a serious run.
For both coaches, time is not on their side. The pressure to win is building…and the return to prominence is something that Husky nation is desperately seeking.