‘Exciting style’ has Huskies, longtime coach Lorenzo Romar atop Pac-12 standings

Jan 23, 2016, 3:05 PM | Updated: Jan 24, 2016, 7:59 pm
Rainier Beach product Dejounte Murray leads a strong freshmen class for the conference-leading Husk...
Rainier Beach product Dejounte Murray leads a strong freshmen class for the conference-leading Huskies. (AP)

This season began as one of uncertainty for coach Lorenzo Romar and the Washington Huskies men’s basketball team.

Following a disappointing 11th-place finish in last year’s Pac-12 standings, the Huskies lost several key players in a sizable exodus, leaving them with just two returning scholarship players (senior Andrew Andrews and sophomore Donaven Dorsey) and a coach whose job status was very much in question heading into his 14th year at the helm.

Washington stays on top in Pac-12, beats Colorado 95-83

Two months into the season, though, it’s become clear that the Huskies have put all that turmoil behind them.

The Huskies are 13-6 overall, tied for the conference lead with Oregon at 5-2, and are likely to earn their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2011. Andrews has been an outright star, sitting atop the Pac-12 scoring list at 22 points per game, a full 4.2 points per game higher than second-place Josh Scott of Colorado. And Rainier Beach product Dejounte Murray, who is averaging 15.1 points, six rebounds and 4.7 assists per game, leads a talented crop of freshmen that have suddenly provided hope that UW is back for good as a major player in the conference.

The Huskies have been so surprisingly good this season, even die-hard WSU Cougars fan Jim Moore of 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Danny, Dave and Moore” admitted on Friday to respecting their accomplishments.

“I’m impressed with the Huskies, and I’m happy for Lorenzo Romar. He’s such a class act and a good guy,” Moore said. “He’s a good coach and I think he’s on a semi-hot seat this year it seems like, if I’m reading between the lines with him, because (the Huskies) haven’t been to the tournament for a while… That’s how impressed I am, because I don’t want to be impressed with anything purple and gold.”

As far as Moore sees it, Romar has proven he deserves to keep his job, and then some.

“It not only looks to me that he’s going to make it back to the tournament with this team, but they might even make some noise in March,” he said.

Considering how even a rival fan like Moore can be impressed with the Huskies, it’s no surprise that co-host and UW supporter Danny O’Neil is happy with the team’s performance in 2015-16.

“They have an incredibly exciting style with this group,” O’Neil said. “It’s only going to get better next year, not just because six of these top eight players this year are freshmen, including Dejounte Murray, but next year’s recruiting class is going to add to them.”

You can hear the entire conversation from “Danny, Dave and Moore” starting near the 24:30 mark of this podcast.

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‘Exciting style’ has Huskies, longtime coach Lorenzo Romar atop Pac-12 standings