Sunday, March 1, 2009

The fire he got in his eyes was amazing

As this article tells it, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar "wasn't happy with the way his team had played in the first half. There was too little energy. Too many mistakes. In front of the home fans, with so much riding on the game, the Huskies were playing as if beating Arizona was their birthright. Now, after a ho-hum half, they trailed 36-32."

So, he gathered his team's captains, "tugged hard on their uniform shirts and stared into their faces."

"The fire he got in his eyes was amazing," said junior forward Quincy Pondexter, who finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds to help the Huskies come back to beat Arizona, 83-78. "It felt like I was in a movie because of all the passion he had in him. I'm going to think about that moment down through the years and through time. I mean, I just love the dude."

"You'd run through a brick wall for him," said senior Jon Brockman (above with Coach Romar), who entered the season as the nation's leading returning rebounder. "He gives us an unbelievable amount of confidence and an unbelievable amount of trust. When you have someone behind you who you know believes in you and cares for you as a person and wants the best for you no matter what, you're going to work your butt off for him."

"Usually with coaches, as they get older they get mellower," said UW assistant Cameron Dollar. "But he's kind of been the opposite. That fire and that passion and that intensity has churned and churned and is coming out even more. It's just fun to see it."

So what did Coach Romar tell his guys before heading back out for the second half of the Arizona game?

"We've come too far to play like this. You have a chance to win the conference outright. You have a chance to leave a legacy." And then the coach's throat caught. The words that meant so much to him felt stuck in his chest. Finally he told his team leaders, "I believe in you."

UW outscored Arizona, 51-42, in the second half, and with the win, clinched a tie for the Pac-10 title, UW's first in nearly 25 years.