Tuesday, August 21, 2012
SEATTLE — Brad Jackson didn’t report to anyone on the basketball court in almost three decades at Western Washington, but on the first day with the Washington Huskies, he double-checked the start of practice with his boss.
“Practice in 25 minutes, right?” he asked coach Lorenzo Romar.
Before walking away, Jackson chuckled and said: “Wouldn’t want to be late.”
It used to be that workouts began when Jackson arrived.
But now the 60-year-old Division II coaching legend is the rookie on UW’s staff, beginning what he calls “a new chapter” in a decorated coaching career.
“There’s not any question that it’s going to be an adjustment for me,” Jackson said. “I don’t have any delusions of grandeur. Hopefully I can bring something that’s maybe an addition and fits in well.”
Monday was a day for changes at Montlake.
The Huskies introduced Jackson at about the same time his predecessor, Raphael Chillious, who spent the past three years at UW, was hired as an assistant at Villanova.
Washington also announced the addition of walk-on sophomore guard Quinn Sterling, a former Mercer Island High standout.
Media members got an up-close view of the new video scoreboard, which was lowered from the Alaska Airlines Arena rafters and suspended inches above the court.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Romar said.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was Romar’s announcement that he’s trashing UW’s trademark motion offense, a staple the past nine years, and replacing it with a high-post offense inspired by John Wooden’s UCLA teams.
The Bruins ran the scheme when they won the 1995 NCAA national championship while Romar was an assistant under former coach Jim Harrick.
Romar ran the high-post offense his first year at UW in 2002, but abandoned the system for an offense that was predicated on dribble drives. It required players to get into the lane to score or create shots for teammates.
Junior guard C.J. Wilcox intimated the offense had become predictable for opposing defenses. It might explain why the Huskies averaged 76 points, lowest in four seasons.
Personnel is another reason Romar is changing the offense. Washington will likely be led in scoring by spot-up shooters such as Wilcox and senior co-captain Scott Suggs.
“I don’t think we have as many guys as we’ve had in the past that could just put it on the floor and make plays,” Romar said. “We have some guys that can do it. I also think with our big guys, it puts them into better position to be effective.”
Washington leaves on a foreign tour Saturday. The 10 extra practices and seven exhibition games give Romar time to install the new offense.
“The timing couldn’t be any better,” he said.
Perhaps coincidentally, Jackson arrives with a depth of knowledge about the high-post offense from his years at WWU.
“We ran a lot of high-post-to-low-post stuff through the years,” he said. “We’ve always been a fast-paced team.”
It’s inaccurate to label Jackson as Washington’s de facto offensive coordinator because his duties haven’t been defined. However, he’s heralded by peers as a brilliant offensive mind.
“He will do a lot of scouting on opponents,” Romar said. “He will be big in recruiting. ... Just (adding) overall to program development using all of his expertise.”
Jackson led WWU to a Division II national championship last season and ranks third on the state’s all-time wins list with a 518-279 record. The Vikings made 19 postseason appearances with him and posted 12 20-win seasons.
During the 90-minute drive from his home in Bellingham to the UW campus, he thought about the life he left behind, as well as days ahead.
“It’s going to be an adjustment, certainly,” Jackson said. “I’m not a real ego-driven guy.
“It’s more about being part of a great program and team and a great coaching staff.”