We continue our two part Nestea series on risk taking at the coaching by asking if UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar is a risk taker. I think we all have seen the riverboat gambler mentality in Steve Sarkisian but does LoRo have a little of that going on inside of him?
I don't see a lot of it on the court because he tends to let his players take control of the game during the last two minutes. Most of the time that works because LoRo is the most successful coach from an NCAA tournament perspective in the history of the school. It is just a matter of time until he become the all time winningest coach in program history.
Lorenzo took over what had become a perennial losing program that didn't graduate its players. Romar has had 23 of the last 25 players who stayed all four years graduate. That rate is significantly higher than the average student at a major four year university who is paying to attend. In fact, the UW basketball team had the highest APR score (980) of any Pac-10 team last season.
I think where Romar shines as a risk taker is during recruiting. He takes chances on some of the players he recruits. Sometimes he take's a player who doesn’t have a stellar academic record and hope's that they can find ways to turn them around in the classroom.
Isaiah Thomas is a great example of that. He had to go to prep school just to get eligible and ended up with the highest GPA on the team and just 2 quarters from a degree before leaving this spring for the NBA. IT left Washington a winner and Romar's mentoring had a lot to do with that.
Shawn Kemp Jr is another example of risk. It was just announced that the coveted big man was going to enroll at UW this summer and had been given a scholarship. The talented big man hasn't been able to get into Auburn or Alabama. He has spent the last couple of years spinning his wheels to get eligible.
Kemp is a high risk to reward type of player. He is absolutely everything you want in a power forward but will he keep it together long enough to get in shape and stay eligible? Romar is betting that he will be able to do that and that is where the river boat gambler in his personality starts to surface.
No coach is 100% when it comes to risk taking and LoRo is certainly not the exception. Venoy Overton let him and the program down hard twice last season. He gave Venoy the chance to stay with the team and graduate and he paid it back with another seedy morals charge.
Romar put a lot of energy into trying to help and mentor Overton. Romar took a chance because he wanted to help turn the kids life around. Overton chose to go in another direction that he will eventually regret.