I remember first meeting Lorenzo (Lo) Romar, the Head Coach of the University of Washington Men’s basketball team several years back at the “Legends of the Game” event that my friend and at that time co-worker, Coach Tom Newell, hosted. It was an incredible gathering of some of basketball’s finest minds and abilities at the beautiful Palisade’s restaurant in Seattle. Legends Pete Newell and Marv Harshman [Tex Winters] made special appearances. Chatting with the two [three] Legends was a lifetime highlight.
[Blog update on 02/17/2011: Got an e-mail from Tom Newell reminded me that Tex Winters was also a Legend. How could I forget? He was a former Head Coach at the UW (1968-1971.) In 1962, Winter wrote the book, entitled The Triple-Post Offense, about the triangle offense – the offense which he implemented while Head Coach at Kansas State. At the dinner, Tex and I became fast friends because of my Dad’s past with Michigan State University basketball and the fact that they both helped coach and conduct clinics while down in Ecuador (where my Peace Corps Dad met, coached and married my Ecuadorian super-star Mom!)
The three Legends put on a coaching clinic the next day at the UW Hec Edmundson Pavilion and my job was to check in all the coaches as they arrived. Tex was one of the last to get there. He brought a small box with him that he asked me to hold for him while he went onto the court and gave his presentation about the Triangle Offense. I asked Coach Winters what was inside? He opened up the box up and there were his nine NBA Championship rings he earned while an assistant coach for Phil Jackson and the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Like I said, how could I forget! Thank you for the reminder Tommy.]
Legends of the Game
Another fun memory was being seated at the dinner table with UW all-timers and former NBA Professionals, Steve Hawes and Bob Houbregs. Bobby and I really bonded. When he talked about his pioneering hook shot and their crushing loss to Kansas in the 1953 NCAA tournament semifinals, I felt like I was on the court with him playing. Read about Bob’s career here: Seattle PI
UW player Detlef Schrempf (1982-85) is someone I have long admired (I graduated from Redmond H.S. in 1984) and he was in attendance. Here is a link to the DS Foundation. Today, Det is my friend on Facebook and Linkedin thanks to sports tech.
Former UW Women’s Head Coach June Daughterly (1997-2007) whom I have since gotten to know better, was also there. Countless other significant NW hoopers both young and old paid their respects to these two basketball Legends and Sports Techie pioneers. Yet, the person who made the biggest impressions on me that night was Lorenzo.
Here is Lo’s bio: Go Huskies
I remember how Coach shook my hand. I especially remember how Lo looked me in the eyes and made me feel warm because I could sense that he really cared about who I was. It wasn’t just with me either. Watching Lo walk around the room getting to know everybody else proved to me right there that this spiritual person is a special person who gets it.
UW Coaches Show
Last year when I started Sports Techie during the month of March Madness, I was able to head across the street to Anthony’s Homeport in Shilshoal Bay for the UW Husky Coaches Show hosted by KJR AM sports radio. There I sat there patiently listening to the Voice of the Huskies, Bob Rondeau, and to the Gasman, Mike Gastineau, a local icon; ask Lo questions about the program, his life and the upcoming Pac-Ten and NCAA tournament games.
Lucky for me, I was able to personally ask coach an on-air question about how he felt about only having one Senior of the team, Quincy Pondexter (QPon)? His response was golden and profound. Lo said he was proud of QPon for playing four years like Brandon Roy (BRoy) did and that his leadership was ready to make a difference. Did it ever! Washington won their second Pac-10 Tournament Championship. Then they went on to make their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance. They kept winning and made it all the way to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the third time under Lo. As a No. 11 seeding, the Huskies beat a No. 5 seed in Marquette and a No. 4 New Mexico, then lost a heartbreaker to the No. 2 seed West Virginia.
Interestingly enough and a Sports Techie connection, I was the Moderator for the official Big East wiki that season and knew exactly how good WV and the Conference was. In fact, I won my NCAA tournament pool! SYN
Flash forward a year later to the very same UW Coaches Show this week and again I went to hear Lo speak and hopefully get to ask another question. Here is a video of Lo telling the UW fans in attendence, on the radio and through their social media outlets on Facebook and Twitter that he still played basketball at the IMA but gets frustrated with his sling shot! Sports Techie YouTube
Someone from Facebook asked who are the top 5 players he has ever coached? Immediately he said BRoy. Next came Spencer Hawes (Steve’s nephew.) After that, coach got diplomatic and said he had lot’s of solid players to consider. The Gasman helped him out and quantified the question by saying only players from the past, not anyone from this years team so that All-Pac-10 performer Isaiah Thomas would not give him any flack. The crowd enjoyed this moment! Coach gave props to Tre Simmons not because he was or was not a top-five player, rather, it was because he simply enjoyed how hard and consistent Tre played every play.
The KJR crew cut to a commercial and since I was sitting right behind them I was able to ask the Gasman if I could ask a question which they allowed. With mic in hand, I told Lo I was into sports technology and now known as Sports Techie. My question was that I wanted to know how important their video coordinator position was? Lo smiled and said that the video-editing work by Kyle McCormick was extremely important and critical. Here is a recent example of Kyle’s film editing skills of their recent victory vs. Stanford on February 12, 2011 YouTube Video. Lo said the staff shows the players clips of fundamentals and of game strategy in order to help them improve on a daily basis. Lo said, “it’s like they are looking in the mirror.”
As I follow up, I wanted to know if Kyle became even more important when they get into the Pac-Ten and NCAA tournaments, and why? Lo answered that the turn-around time for edited film was critical and that Kyle often worked well past midnight preparing game film for their next opponent so yes, he is the man. Come March Madness, they might have to study two different possible next opponents and beyond in their bracket because they have such a short turn-around time in which to get prepared and they simply did not know who was going to win.
Another March Madness run?
With that, my Sports Techie work was done and the show wound down. The Huskies play down at ASU and Arizona this weekend and need to win in order to improve their RPI rankings. Who knows if another March Madness run is in the works for the Huskies, but one thing is for sure, they will be using sports technology once again to help make it so.
Lo and Sports Techie
I was able to take another picture with Lo, a real inspirational Sports Techie to me, and the the kind of gentle spirit everyone is blessed to know or have played for.
Hope you catch March Madness! Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing this blog. See ya when I see ya, Sports Techie.