UW Athletic Director Barbara Hedges announced Wednesday Lorenzo Romar as the new head of the men's basketball team.
The hiring of Romar, who posted a record of 51-44 the past three seasons at St. Louis, ends an action-packed week in which Missouri's Quin Snyder, Gonzaga's Mark Few and Minnesota's Dan Monson all declared that they would remain at their respective schools.
Romar replaces Bob Bender, who was forced to resign March 20. In his nine years at Washington, Bender compiled a 116-142 record, including two post-season NIT and two NCAA tournament appearances. But before this year's disappointing 11-18 record, Bender's two previous Husky teams finished 10-20.
"We are excited to have Lorenzo come back to the UW and direct our basketball program," Hedges said. "Lorenzo is very highly regarded in the coaching profession and I think we are extremely lucky to have him back as a Husky."
Immediately after the Washington job opened, Romar was considered a strong candidate as a former Husky who played two seasons under Marv Harshman in 1979 and 1980 after transferring from Cerritos Community College.
"If it were not for my alma mater calling, I would still be coaching at Saint Louis University," Romar said. "It just so happens that the school where I played my collegiate basketball needed a coach."
Today at 2:30 p.m., Romar will be formally introduced at a news conference in Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Some current Husky players did not receive word of Romar's hiring until the official announcement came Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. by Washington while St. Louis simultaneously held a press conference announcing its search for a new head coach.
Sophomore C.J. Massingale nearly went to St. Louis to play for Romar after narrowing his choice of schools down to Washington and the Billikens. Now Massingale will have the opportunity to finish his college career under Romar.
"I think it will be a good fit," Massingale said. "One of his strengths is that he's more of a player's coach and has more communication."
Many consider Romar a key factor in assembling the UCLA squad that won the national title in 1995 at the Kingdome. That roster included Toby Bailey, Jelani McCoy, Charles O'Bannon and J.R. Henderson.
After serving as an assistant to Jim Harrick and Steve Lavin for the Bruins from 1992-1996, Romar moved on to become head coach at Pepperdine from 1996-1999. In his last season with the Waves, Romar took his team to the NIT. The next year, after taking over at St. Louis, the Billikens finished seventh in the Conference USA regular season, but won the conference tournament to earn a trip to the NCAA tourney.
At Washington, Romar inherits a talented group of players, including Pac-10 newcomer of the year Doug Wrenn, Curtis Allen, Erroll Knight and Massingale. Power forwards Marlon Shelton and Mike Jensen will also return after suffering season-ending injuries in 2001.
Garfield High School senior and Husky standout signee Brandon Roy was on campus Wednesday with Wrenn and identical twins Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart from Rainier Beach, which won the 3A Washington state title. Though Bender recruited Roy, he declared himself 100 percent committed to the Huskies.
"Honestly, I don't know anything about Romar," Roy said. "I'm going to have to get a feel for what type of a person he is."
Roy narrowly chose the UW over powerhouse Arizona partly because of Bender's willingness to let Roy play at the position(s) he feels most comfortable at from point guard to small forward. Depending on how Romar handles Roy's situation, PrepWestHoops.com's No. 2-ranked small forward on the West Coast may still ask for a release from his letter of intent, but that is unlikely.
The Huskies also have signed another Garfield product in forward Anthony Washington, and Romar has one scholarship remaining once he arrives at the UW.
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