By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar was succinct Tuesday.
“There is zero margin for error at this point,” Romar said. “Zero.”
In fact, it may simply be too late for the Huskies.
Washington (13-11, 5-6) has dropped six of its past seven games, including being swept on the road last week in Los Angeles.
Because of that trip, which ended with a 7 p.m. tip-off Sunday, Washington arrived back at campus at 3:30 a.m. Monday morning. Some players, like C.J. Wilcox, had 8:30 a.m. classes to attend, and so the Huskies took Monday off from practice. They then had a shorter-than-usual practice Tuesday, giving them reduced time to prepare for the 23rd-ranked Oregon Ducks, who visit Hec Edmundson Pavilion tonight.
That means message as much as movement is crucial as Washington tries to pull a dramatic turnaround.
“Just talk about the importance of staying the course right now and not allowing the losses to mount up to where they don’t sting as much,” Romar said. “We have to be ready to go. We have to make a stand at this point.”
When Washington was mired at 5-5 prior to the USC game, Romar pointed out that the Huskies had been 5-5 in conference play in the past and made the NCAA Tournament both times. He discussed that again Tuesday.
“The first time, I remember some guys just really started playing well that were inconsistent before,” he said. “There were certain guys that were playing that didn’t play as much. The adjustment with the personnel made all the difference in the world.
“Same thing the second time. I remember vividly a couple of guys just started really playing. They weren’t fighting themselves they weren’t worried about minutes, just whatever it takes.
“But, I think with this group, it’s a little different. … as a head coach, (I have) to get our guys to understand how important possession is. And, defensively, how important it is to execute the (plan developed in practice).”
Washington has been pounded down to the edge of the conference’s bottom tier. Only a trio of teams — Oregon State, Washington State and Utah, two of which have beaten Washington — are below the Huskies at 2-9.
The route toward the bottom has been odd. Washington was decimated by Colorado State in an 18-point home loss Nov. 24, 2012. Its other 10 losses have come by an average of 6.2 points, leaving Romar, ever the optimist, believing a large turn still can be made.
“We’re right there,” Romar said. “That’s why I refuse to believe it’s over. We’ve got to get that one. I thought it was the Arizona State one, but it wasn’t.”
The players met without the coaches Tuesday. Point guard Abdul Gaddy did most of the talking.
Despite the recent downward run, Wilcox feels finger-pointing within the group has been minimal for a simple reason.
“It’s not just a single guy that you can just point a finger at,” Wilcox said. “It’s all of us collectively. We’re all making mistakes. We know that the whole team is the one to blame.”