By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — An outright conference title, a coach of the year and a freshman of the year.
The University of Washington men’s basketball team has added to the proverbial trophy case in recent days, and yet you’ll have to forgive the Huskies if they’re feeling a little slighted right about now.
On the same day that Lorenzo Romar was named the Pacific-12 Conference’s coach of the year, and Tony Wroten Jr. was named the conference’s freshman of the year, the Huskies were talking about the award that didn’t go their way — the Pac-12 player of the year. That honor went to Cal’s Jorge Gutierrez, rather than to Wroten or UW sophomore Terrence Ross.
“I for sure thought Terrence was going to get player of the year,” Wroten was quoted as saying by the UW athletic department. “Gutierrez is a good player and has been here for a long time, but I felt like Terrence did enough to where he was player of the year. To top it off, we won the conference so I thought Terrence would get it.
“It is what it is, and our goal is to win the conference championship.”
Ross, who joined Wroten on the all-conference first team but may have had his chances for player of the year hampered by the presence of another legitimate candidate on his own team, was rather blunt in his feelings about not earning the most prestigious Pac-12 award.
“I am a little surprised, but congratulations to Gutierrez,” he told the UW athletic department. “He is a great player and has helped Cal out a lot. You can see it in their record. … I feel a little snubbed, but you can’t really think about that stuff.”
For the most part, Monday’s conference awards went the Huskies’ way.
Romar earned coach-of-the-year honors for the third time in six years, having won his two previous awards in 2004-05 and 2008-09. But even he was talking about the player-of-the-year voting Monday.
“I would have liked to have seen one of our guys win player of the year more than me get coach of the year,” he said in quotes released by the athletic department. “But that is no knock on Jorge, because I and our whole team respect Jorge Gutierrez.”
Ross and Wroten were one of two sets of teammates named to the 10-man all-conference first team. Cal (Gutierrez and Allen Crabbe) and Arizona (Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill) also had two players on the first team, while Washington State’s Brock Motum earned a spot as well. Motum, a junior who ranked second in the conference in scoring at 18.1 points per game, also got named the Pac-12’s most improved player.
The All-Pac-12 team included WSU’s Reggie Brown and UW’s C.J. Wilcox, who earned honorable mention all-conference.
Wroten became the Huskies’ fifth freshman-of-the-year honoree, joining a group that most recently included 2008-09 freshman-of-the-year Isaiah Thomas.
Wroten, who is also one of five finalists for the national-freshman-of-the-year award that is almost certainly going to go to Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, said earning the Pac-12 honor was an objective heading into the season.
“I wanted to be one of the top freshmen in the country,” he said, “and my goal was to get Pac-12
freshman of the year.”
Other honored players from in-state schools included UW center Aziz N’Diaye (all-defense, first team) and WSU’s Marcus Capers (all-defense, honorable mention) and DeVonte’ Lacy (all-freshman, honorable mention).