The associate head coach who will be Sean Miller’s right-hand man once led a program that made Arizona fans cringe when they saw his team next on the schedule.
The height of the Washington-Arizona rivalry, when Lorenzo Romar coached the Huskies, came in a three-year stretch when the Wildcats were 2-6 against Brandon Roy, Nate Robinson and Co.
That was from 2004 to 2006 and included Washington becoming one of the few to sweep Arizona in three games during the 2003-04 season.
Lorenzo Romar on Arizona job: “It was right in my wheelhouse”
The Huskies defeated Arizona twice in what was then the Pac-10 tournament in 2004 and 2005.
They beat the Wildcats at McKale Center in 2004 and 2006.
Romar reminisced about one of those victories — in 2004 when the Huskies snapped a seven-game losing streak at McKale with an 89-84 win — during his introductory press conference with the Arizona media on Thursday.
“The game was fairly close and maybe I don’t know it was five points or something maybe we were up,” Romar said. “Arizona shot the ball and missed and the ball came off the rim and everybody literally just stood and watched it as if the game was over and there was still about 30 seconds left.
“I remember on the side just standing myself and thinking, ‘We’re about to win this here? Okay.’ … You want to not only compete against the best but you want to be able to succeed against the best. Any time you can come in and get a victory here, boy you feel pretty good about it.”
That game is one of the top five games involving Romar and the Wildcats. Here is one opinion of those memorable games:
Washington 77, Arizona 75 (OT)
March 12, 2011
Isaiah Thomas’ last-second 20-foot game-winning jump shot in the Pac-10 title game in Los Angeles was part of another successful run for Romar against Arizona. This victory came in a stretch when Romar won five of six games against Miller from 2010 to 2012.
Before the game, Romar jokingly asked former Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne if he could walk through the “Wildcat Walk” at the Wildcats’ hotel, which was shared by Washington. Romar was leaving the hotel at the same time of the Wildcat Walk. Romar walked through and got some high-fives from Arizona fans. “They were very gracious, very nice,” Romar told The Arizona Daily Star. “There was even some applause.”
Arizona 87, Washington 86
Feb. 19, 2011
Three weeks before Thomas’ clutch shot, Derrick Williams provided dramatics of his own in McKale against Romar and the Huskies. Williams scored 26 points with 11 rebounds but it was his timely block of a shot by Darnell Gant with one second remaining that saved the day.
The victory was Arizona’s eighth straight and strengthened its bid for the regular-season conference title that season. “Arizona played hard,” Romar said to reporters after. “Derrick Williams was obviously a monster.”
Arizona 96, Washington 95 (2 OT)
Dec. 31, 2005
The Wildcats snapped the Huskies’ 32-game home winning streak in a wild one on New Year’s Eve in Seattle. Hassan Adams had his best game as a Wildcat, scoring 32 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the field, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range. Washington’s Brandon Roy sent the game into double-overtime with a 3-pointer as time expired. “Coach (Romar) said to push it up the court,” said Roy, who had a game-high 35 points. “I saw (Seattle native) Marcus Williams kind of jump for it, so I pump-faked and let it go, and it went in.”
Lute Olson challenged Arizona’s toughness after Washington took a 40-27 lead in the first half while Arizona missed 14 of its first 15 attempts from 3-point range. “I told them I was embarrassed to see ‘Arizona’ across their chests,” Olson said. Kirk Walters made one of two free throws in the waning seconds of the second overtime to secure the victory.
Washington 89, Arizona 84
Feb. 26, 2004
Arizona’s seven-game win streak against Washington at McKale Center was snapped with Salim Stoudamire watching from the bench, where he was relegated to because of a suspension. The 17th-ranked Wildcats had a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer (Stoudamire was sorely needed) with 10 seconds left but Channing Frye tried a shot inside the arc that missed. Will Conroy grabbed the rebound for the Huskies, and before Arizona could foul, Hakeem Rollins broke free for a dunk to give Washington the five-point win.
Rollins, of Mesa, scored all of his career-high 14 points in the second half. Tre Simmons led the Huskies with 22 points and Nate Robinson added 18. It was Washington’s first road win over a ranked team since 1996. The Huskies also completed their first regular-season sweep over Arizona since 1984.
Washington 70, Arizona 67
March 4, 2006
Arizona led for the first 39 minutes but lost the game when it counted down the stretch as the Huskies beat the Wildcats for the sixth time in eight games. Arizona freshman Marcus Williams, of Seattle, played one of his better games but his turnover with 40 seconds left resulted in Washington taking its first lead and he missed a pair of free throws with 20 seconds remaining. It was Arizona’s first loss on Senior Day in 11 years.
Arizona nemesis Brandon Roy scored 14 of his 16 points in the last 13 minutes. He lifted the Huskies when things seemed bleak trailing by 12 points early in the second half. “In my head I was like, they’re up eight or nine, but if we can keep it close, we feel like we have a chance.”
Lorenzo Romar’s record against Arizona
Romar was 13-18 against Arizona. He had a winning record against the Wildcats before Arizona reeled off eight straight wins against him to end his career at Washington. He was 3-0 against the Wildcats in the Pac-10 tournament with wins in Los Angeles in 2004, 2005 and 2011.[table “” not found /]
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.