Pac-10 honors UW coach Romar, players Thomas and Dentmon

SEATTLE — Win a title. Watch the awards flow.

Pac-10 coaches voted Washington's Lorenzo Romar as conference coach of the year in results announced Monday, for taking the team that had been picked to finish fifth in the league to its first outright conference title since 1953.

The same Washington team that had just one conference player of the week this season — blue-collar force Jon Brockman just weeks ago — had Brockman and fellow senior Justin Dentmon on the all-conference first team, plus leading scorer Isaiah Thomas as the league's freshman of the year.

The coaches also named Dentmon as the conference's most improved player. In one season, Dentmon has gone from being benched to a key why the Huskies (24-7, 14-4 Pac-10) will play their first game of the Pac-10 tournament on Thursday as the event's top seed.

"The beauty of it all — and we've been preaching it all year — is to have one player of the week yet have all these awards. It was a TEAM effort," Romar said, emphasizing his favorite word with his eyes wide and his hands up as if literally grasping the concept.

Next week, Romar will lead the Huskies to their fourth NCAA tournament since the former UW player returned to coach them in 2002. Washington had been to four NCAA tournaments in 17 years before Romar arrived.

This is the Huskies' third 20-win season in five years. Romar, who turned 50 this season, is 144-78 (.649) at Washington. He was also Pac-10 coach of the year in 2005.

"The ultimate role model. I came to U-Dub mostly because of him. He's just been the ultimate example and role model for me, on and off the court," said Brockman, who chose to stay close to home for college instead of playing for esteemed coach Mike Krzyzewski at powerhouse Duke.

Bob Bender (1996) and Marv Harshman (1982, '84) are the only other Washington coaches to be Pac-10 coach of the year since the current version of the league started the awards in 1976.

Mike Montgomery — then at Stanford, now at California — and former Arizona coach Lute Olson are the only others since 1995 to win multiple conference coach of the year awards besides Romar.

"I would say it's a good compliment," Romar said, downplaying his role. Instead, he spread credit for the honor to assistants Cameron Dollar, Paul Fortier and Jim Shaw, plus the players and their unselfish attitudes.

Brockman, the nation's active leader with 58 double-doubles, was on the midseason watch list for the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy. Both are given annually for the nation's most outstanding player.

The Huskies won the Pac-10 largely because Brockman didn't have to do it all, because of Thomas' splashy debut (15.4 points per game) and Dentmon's resurgence (15.3 points per game).

Beyond the freshman of the year award, Thomas also on the all-conference second team. He was the only player on that list who is not a senior or junior.

"Yeah, that hurt," the brash 20-year-old said. He was expecting to be on the first team.

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