SEATTLE – An open letter to Lorenzo Romar, men’s basketball head coach, University of Washington:
As I write this, I’m watching 10,000 people in a blow-the-roof-off thunderous Hec Ed Pavilion work themselves into Beatle- manialike fits. Those in the student section already serenaded Gonzaga coach Mark Few with the pre-game chant of “NORTH Da-KO-ta (clap, clap, clapclapclap)” because of his claim this week that some believe Spokane is located in the Flickertail State.
They also held up bars of soap, advised Gonzaga’s apparently hygienically-challenged Adam Morrison to “TAKE a SHOW-er (clap, clap, clapclapclap),” recited what they evidently believed was his cell phone number and harangued him about his emaciated mustache.
This weekend, more than a few students camped outside Hec Ed’s student entrance for more than 40 hours, through freezing temperatures and falling slush, just to get a decent seat at this game between your Huskies and Gonzaga.
This is like an early Christmas present for hoops junkies, Lorenzo: the sixth-ranked Bulldogs against a Husky team whose program you’ve resurrected from Narcolepsy U. to an NCAA No. 1 tournament seed last season.
And it’s continued this year. Although the “experts” looked at your graduation losses and figured the Huskies didn’t belong in the Top 25, your young team was undefeated going into Sunday, had won a nation-leading 28 straight at home and was ranked 18th in the nation.
Kids graduated, as kids will do, but you have some truly intriguing additions.
Snohomish grad Jon Brockman, a barracuda on the boards, looks like anything but a true freshman. Stanwood native Ryan Appleby’s shooting range appears to start in Wenatchee.
Point guard Justin Dentmon is a true freshman who’s already showing the decision-making of an upperclassman.
And you’ve got back truly exciting players in Brandon Roy, Bobby Jones and Jamaal Williams.
This stuff is getting really, really fun. You have to live underground not to know what’s building here: a top-10 program season after season.
So what’s up with your statement this week that it’s possible, that it’s even a consideration, that you might pull the plug on the UW-Gonzaga series?
Sure, you said you’re leaning toward continuing it. Sure, you said you’d have to sit down with your staff and talk about it.
But, looking at the frenzy happening in Hec Ed right now, what in the name of Sarunas Jasikevicius is there to talk about?
You even said that, considering Gonzaga won seven straight over the Huskies what we’re seeing now isn’t a rivalry, that your program has to do its part for it to become one.
Look around you, Lorenzo. Read the flaming Internet message boards. That, plus a full-up Hec Ed see a rivalry. They’re seeing magnificently nasty basketball on both ends of the court. It’s really elite stuff.
Dickie V. would pass out if he saw this, If, that is, he could admit that big-time college basketball exists west of Tobacco Road.
You could give this to Northwest fans, Lorenzo. Whether it’s on campus or the Kennel in Spokane or KeyArena, fans deserve a meeting once a year between the Huskies and the Bulldogs.
Go ahead and pad the preseason schedule with the Lehighs and the American Universities and the Morgan States of the world. What harm is it, though, to play an occasional national powerhouse, as you did several times last season?
Yes, we know North Carolina backed out this time around because Bremerton native Marvin Williams decided to go pro, so you get a free pass this time. But to even consider dropping Gonzaga is unconscionable.
You and I both know, Lorenzo, that you could run for Seattle mayor and win. You have a knack for doing the right thing and looking good doing it.
But my hope is that, when you let out the possibility of not renewing Gonzaga games, you merely were thinking out loud, and we misinterpreted what your intentions really are.
An annual matchup between Washington and Gonzaga is right and just.
Now, skedaddle into your office and sign those papers.