Let’s examine height as it relates to the Huskies. A lot of people have been saying that this team needs to add height and length in order to improve and I’m just not sure that that is necessarily the case. Looking at the height of the Huskies teams over the past four years as compared to the rest of the NCAA (not gerrymandering statistics here, that’s just the only data available to me via Kenpom.com, maybe it’s out there somewhere else going further back I haven’t taken the time to look) and you get the following numbers:
Husky Height / National Average / Effective Height (basically, a measure of height taking minutes and position into account)
2007: 77.4” / 76.5” / +2.7
2008: 76.5” / 76.4” / +0.7
2009: 75.3” / 76.5” / -0.7
2010: 75.7” / 76.5” / -0.3
And as any good Husky fan knows, the (tall) ‘07 and ‘08 teams missed the postseason entirely (I refuse to count the CBI, sorry Oregon State fans), while the (short) ’09 and ’10 teams won a regular season title, a tournament championship and went 3-2 in the NCAA’s.
Of course, it would be naïve to think that height was the only thing that affected the results that those teams had on the court. There were of course other factors, and for UW under Lorenzo Romar, a big one is always tempo, and those two tall teams were the two slowest Washington teams (by a wide margin) that Coach Romar has put on the floor. I would argue that a big part of the reason these teams were slower than your average Husky team was the lack of a point guard who could play under control at that speed, because if you think Justin Dentmon was capable of that as a sophomore or junior, you’re letting his phenomenal play his senior year cloud your memory. But I think it’s pretty common sense that bigger teams have a harder time getting up and down the floor.
The key is to do both: add players to the program who can give you length without slowing the team down. Unfortunately there aren’t a ton of these guys out there, but they do exist, and I’m thinking of one in particular: Terrence Jones. He’s tall (6’8” or 6’9” depending on who you ask) and he also plays like a guard. Players like this are perfect for the Romar system because they give you the best of both worlds. You don’t have to choose one or the other, and it’s no coincidence that he’s a McDonalds All American. Terrence Ross is similar, just to a lesser extent.
If Romar can bring in players like Jones and Ross, the ceiling for the program will be removed. The team will be good with or without them, but they are potentially the kind of players that can make a huge impact given the right situation. UW is that right situation.
If you’re wondering what happens when a taller than average team of big time recruits runs the floor, it looks something like this.