Offseason mailbags are always fun. Let's dive in.
Ben Nice ponders How good is this incoming class for UW mens hoops that is much hyped? Are they a bunch of one and done guys? Can these freshman led UW back to the NCAA tourney? Is this class the best class ever at UW?
CL: There are a lot of questions being asked by Ben here and, to be perfecty honest, my answer to each of them is a definitive "I don't know".
The good news here is that those who make their livings covering this kind of thing seem to think very highly of Romar's incoming class. 247 Sports, which compiles a composite scoring system based on the assessments of several of the big websites, ranks this as the #11 class in the country. While having six recruits in the class helps that calculus, UW is one of only five teams to have four or more 4-star and 5-star prospects - the others being Ohio State, Syracuse, Arizona and Florida. That's not too shabby.
Beyond that, the balance of this class is even more impressive. In a single swoop, Romar has reloaded with an elite scorer, a strong PF prospect, a huge big man project (think 6-9 240lbs), a defensive oriented JC recruit, a ball-distributing PG and a versatile wing player with length. It's an impressive haul not only in talent but in diversity.
Who knows how good Dejounte Murray will be? If he rips it up next year, he could be a one-and-done type of talent. Otherwise, I wouldn't bet on any of the other guys going that route. Regardless, it is no question that this is the best and most impressive recruiting class ever put together by Romar along with key assistants TJ Otzelberger and Ralph Chillious.
Topdawg needs to know - I understand that that the Husky basketball team has a Top Ten recruiting class coming in next season "BUT" will it get us to the NCAA Tournament "NEXT" year? We lose our "ONLY" inside presence in Shawn Kemp to graduation and "ONLY" new recruits to fill his spot!
CL: Actually, the Huskies lose both Kemp and the versatile Mike Anderson from this year's team. That goes along with the losses that we've already sustained in Robert Upshaw and Tristan Etienne. There is also still a pretty decent chance that Nigel Williams-Goss may choose to go the NBA route. Who knows?
Regardless, I'm not sure that you can count on this class to elevate the Huskies to the dance next season. Part of that is the schedule - the Pac 12 looks loaded for next year. The other part is the uncertainty of the roster. The good news is that none of the true freshman will be counted on to shoulder the leadership burden of the team presuming that NWG comes back. Both he and Andrew Andrews will have role with Jernard Jarreau also playing a key part. The dynamic of blending the talent of those freshmen with the experience of those vets could make UW a trendy dark horse pick in the Pac next season, but I will personally be tempering my expectations.
Eflynn asks - What is Romar going to do about big men next year and did anyone ever find out why the Canadian recruits backed off their commitments?
CL: I'm not sure what big men you are referring to in your question, but the front court is going to be an interesting situation for Romar next year. There is no doubt that Jarreau will be the featured post with incoming freshman Marquese Chriss almost assuredly assuming a starting role. The depth will be provided by JC transfer Malik Dime and, if he excels on D, could turn into a starting role. The big question is whether or not project big man Devenir Duruisseau redshirts. At 6'9" 240lbs, he is the kind of big body that UW desperately needs. But he could really benefit from a year of training and conditioning. My bet is that Romar gives it to him.
mckinleyville queries - How did our first string do against UCLA's second string? I thought UDub was outplayed.
CL: U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi ...
Ozdawg wonders - Reading the tea leaves (which means I know it is a guess), who will be the highest rated football recruit (not from Washington) to commit to UW in 2016.
CL: Kirk hates it when I take his recruiting questions and try to answer them. He knows that I get all of my information from him and that I'm quite prone to misrepresenting his insights. Still, I'm on east coast time as I write this and to ping him this early in the morning would be downright rude.
The easy answer here, and Kirk already detailed this in his write-up from a few weeks ago, is 5-star California WR prospect Tyler Vaughns. At 6-3", Vaughns is a highly coveted talent who has offers from just about everybody, including the team that he grew up rooting for in USC. The Huskies are definitely in the mix as Petersen and his staff have cultivated a great relationship with the Vaughns camp and the opportunity for Vaughns to come up here and be an impact standout early in his career appears to be intriguing to him.
If you are looking for a "long-shot but real-shot" kind of candidate, there are a few names that I'd pay attention to. Jonah Williams is a top-rated OT out of Folsom ... yup, the same Folsom that produced Jake Browning. OLB prospect Curtis Robinson is a four-star California guy who Petersen and co got in on very early. And, finally, if you want a real sleeper, set your eyes towards Louisiana. 6'2" 305 lb DT Rashard Lawrence is a 5-star who most likely will end up at one of LSU, Alabama or USC. Still, Rashard appears to be a classic OKG kind of kid who plays with a killer motor and a sense of humility. Just the kind of player you could see Petersen really investing some energy into. UW has enough of his attention to be a factor and, if they can get him to visit, who knows?
JS asks - If uw fired romar what are some coaches we could potentially get?
CL: Ladies and Gentlemen, Lorenzo Romar is not getting fired. In fact, the only way in which UW is going to be doing any kind of coaching search for Men's Basketball in this offseason is if Romar leaves us a la Mike Riley. It ain't gonna happen.
I know that there has been some speculation around here that UW can't attract "anybody better" than Romar in the event that we somehow become separated from him. While I am definitely of the opinion that LoRo can coach here as long as he likes (seriously, I love what he does and how he does it), I do find that argument somewhat perplexing. Scott Woodward has really built up a strong Athletic Department and has publicly stated his plans to improve basketball facilities. Pairing that with their ability to pay and the advantageous geographical position that they occupy creates an attractive job.
AnonyDawg requests - The men's basketball team. Explain.
CL: Clearly, it is a lack of motivation. If only there was somebody with enough charisma paired with a powerful message who could get through to those guys. Oh, wait, I know a guy. He lives down by the river.
GlendaleDawg inquires - Is tanking this year going to have any of our 2016 BB recruiting class thinking twice about their commitment?
CL: No. Not at all.
OsidePup wants to know - The big 5 conferences will be providing "subsistence level" support in their scholarship offers to student athletes. Will that "subsistence level" be the same for all schools in the conference and all schools in the other conferences?? Wouldn't Seattle rate a higher level than say Pullman??
CL: You are making reference to the rules changes adopted last month that will allow the so-called "Autonomy Schools" (the Power 5) to pay full cost of attendance as part of the scholarship offered to student-athletes. I'm not exactly clear on how the "cost of attendance" is adjudicated, but I do know that the guidelines are tied to federal definitions of the categories that go into cost of attendance and that there is a schedule that allows for adjustments to those categories based on cost-of-living factors from campus to campus.
Interestingly enough, the SEC proposed an amendment that was rejected at the conference that would have required schools to report what adjustments they were making to the cost of attendance categories. As far as I know, there is no transparency built into this rules change that would allow for public review of these matters (beyond whatever compliance rules were adopted with the passing of the rules).
It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out and if some of the doomsday prognostications of corruption come to pass. Regardless, it is a step in the right direction.
NeedALegitOC asks - How long is Peterson going to stick with Smith as the OC? Did he ever demote or fire a coordinator at Boise st? Looks like a QB coach at best.
CL: I would venture a guess based on your handle that you are not a big fan of UW Offensive Coordinator Jonathan Smith. You and OneWoodWacker both.
If you heard Chris Petersen's interview on KJR last Thursday (or read my recap of it), then you already know that Petersen was clearly unsatisfied with the offensive performance of the football team. While he didn't name names, he did make a handful of comments that lead you to believe that he has concerns about what Smith did in the last year. From talking about how "average" the coaching staff performed to discussing the complexity of their schemes to all but guaranteeing that QB play will improve no matter who wins the job (in other words, the QB coaching will improve), Petersen was clearly critiquing the performance of his offense as overseen by Smith.
However, he was also giving that staff and those players an unquestionable show of support. Petersen does not have a long history of parting ways with coaches and has shown "his guys" pretty high levels of loyalty over the years. Thus, I think that there are very few scenarios short of UW ranking in the bottom quarter of the Pac offensively in 2015 where Jonathan Smith doesn't continue as OC into 2016 and beyond.
ElvislovesUW comments - I noticed a video from Coach Pete of the Seattle Seahawks that emphasized three main ways to tackle (like modern professional soccer players) that does not involve head contact. Would the Huskies benefit by incorporating the new modern techniques taught at the Seahawks training camp?
CL: Good question, Elvis. I for one was duly impressed with the improvement that the Huskies showed in 2014 in tackling overall. Of course, it wasn't perfect - it never is. However, I thought that the Huskies did a nice of job keeping their heads up and seeing their targets as a general principle. The evidence of that was very few instances relative to years past of players sliding off the side of a ball carrier or missing him altogether. This was especially true of the freshman who one would expect would have to have had basic techniques completely re-taught to them.
I can't address Chris Petersen's comments about the Seahawks as I'm unfamiliar with that clip - perhaps you could post it as a fanshot?