Hopkins on UW-WSU matchup: 'It's a rivalry game. It's a different game. I'm excited to experience it for the first time and be a part of it and it'll be a great challenge for us.'
Washington men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins takes a look back at last week’s trip to Los Angeles, which included an upset win at USC and an stunning second-half meltdown in a loss at UCLA.
He also addressed Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at Washington State, which will his first taste of the in-state rivalry with the Cougars. UW enters 11-4 and 1-1 Pac-12 while WSU is 8-6, 0-2.
Hopkins talked about David Crisp’s development, the possible return of freshman guard Michael Carter III and the Huskies’ shoddy 34.8 three-point shooting percentage, which ranks eighth in the Pac-12.
The UW coach, who is a big Star Wars fan, also provided a spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
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Here’s everything Hopkins said Thursday during his weekly press conference.
(On WSU) “I think they not only take a lot of threes, they can make a lot of threes. It’s a team who beat St. Mary’s, San Diego State. They are a team where I’ve seen, down 20 points fight all the way back to winning the game by double-digits. Those are dangerous teams. Obviously they’ve got some really good players. They’ve got a coach who has won a lot of games, he’s got a lot of experience. And when it’s a rivalry game, it’s a different game. I’m excited to experience it for the first time and be a part of it and it’ll be a great challenge for us. We’ve seen three-point shooting teams, goes back to earlier in the year, it’s given us a lot of experience against it. Should be a great challenge.”
(On UW-WSU basketball game having an intensity similar to the football’s Apple Cup) “I’m learning as I’m going, and rivalry is great. It’s great for the sport, it’s great for the state. It’s great for the kids. I was a part of one at Syracuse for a long time with Georgetown. It makes the atmosphere just great. Going to the Apple Cup here in football, just to see the intensity, the drama building up to it, was a lot of fun. You see what kids are made of in those moments. That’s what makes those types of games a whole lotta fun.”
(On not finding offensive answers in second half at UCLA) “Answers…I felt like we got some decent shots. I wouldn’t say we got great, great shots. I thought we got good shots. But you’ve got to remember, from the eight-minute mark of the first half to the 9:40 mark of the second half we were 3-30. And that was before they were playing zone. So it was a combination of both. The zone, it turned the tide. We just couldn’t find it on the inside or the outside. I felt like we rushed some shots. I thought they were good, I don’t think they were great shots. But sometimes that happens. UCLA has good size so I think that kind of neutralized a little bit in the paint where we’ve been really effective. It happens. You just brought up another nightmare. I want to bang my head on this table! The new year was going so good! You got me all built up and then all of a sudden bam! Crash and burn.”
(On if UW has consistent perimeter shooting to combat the zone) “I think when we get good shots…obviously we’ve got good shooters but it comes back to quality of shot. We made the shots a couple nights before at USC. In this game they provided more opportunities for outside shots and if we make a couple it becomes a different story. Got to give them a lot of credit too. They were doing a good job of running at the shooters, forcing them to become a little uncomfortable. Even though they were open they were closing out and playing hard, running at us. The exciting thing for me…the 3-30 was, we were still winning. Going 3-30 we still had a four-point lead with seven minutes to go and we were tied with five minutes to go, so the score didn’t really represent how the game was. We showed a lot of growth with our team having one game and then coming back in another high-level game and for the most part being right there and getting leads. Just kind of hit a dead spell, and that happens.”
(On 1-1 split during last week’s road trip) “I’m always looking at, how is our team getting better? And then, show signs of that. So, I don’t think we played great, but earlier in the year we played Providence. I thought we played a really high-quality team. We didn’t shoot great, 38 percent, and we had 15 turnovers in the first half. They shot 50 and 50 but we were right there against a really good team on the road. Neutral site, but a road per se. I thought we really competed and had a chance, a foul shot to cut it to 1 with a minute left. And then we came back with Virginia Tech and just… 15-24….meh. And then we went down and beat a good Kansas team down there and then we had an opportunity against Gonzaga and Gonzaga was really good and we just played meh. And we went down and had an opportunity against USC and I thought we played a good game. The challenge was, can you go back-to-back? That’s what you’re going to have to do in this league and tournaments. The guys, for the most part, answered that challenge. Did we get it done? No, but I thought there was a lot of growth. So that’s what I’m looking at.”
(On David Crisp) “He’s done a heck of a job. He has the ability to score and make shots but it’s his leadership, it’s him getting us into our offense, it’s the way he focuses with his leadership and how he comes to practice every day and competes. Whenever I get on somebody it’s always then challenging him. He’s taken an incredible leadership role. His value to us is running our team, leading the locker room, getting us into our offense. I told him, I’m asking a lot – play 37 minutes, play defense, challenge, be the heart and soul of this team, make plays for others as well as for yourself and understand that balance. I think he’s done a heck of a job so far and is going to keep getting better. That’s what I love about him. He’s taken the challenge. He’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, we’re all not perfect. But when you have the attitude of, I want to get better and I want to be known as a winner and I want to do everything I can to help us win – the Montana game he had six defensive rebounds. It’s a gut game and he goes back and saves the win out of bounds, guts out the one. He’s making winning plays. That’s all you can ask for. I’ve been very happy with what he’s been doing.”
(On if UW is better now against 3-point shooting teams) “You never know until you’re there. You go back and you look at our two big games that we won, they were two of probably the best 3-point shooting teams. Kansas at the time was shooting over 42 percent as a team and what did we hold them to? I think they were 5 for 21 or whatever they were. USC, I thought after Bennie (Boatwright) hit a couple, we did a good job of targeting him. We’re getting better. Our zone has gotten better. Malachi Flynn, he shoots from the hashmarks. Robert Franks is on fire. I mean, these guys are really good. We got to make sure that we know where they are at all times. They’re 18-, 19- and 20-year-old kids. You say here’s our plan and this is what we’re doing, now you got to go out and execute it. And every environment is different and challenging. But it will be a great challenge for us. I just love at least that we’ve had the opportunity to play teams like that so you kind of know what it looks like. But you really don’t know until you’re playing that team.”
(On Michael Carter tweeting “I’m back” and if he’ll play Saturday) “For me right now it’s getting some practices under his belt. He’s been in good shape. He’s worked out hard yesterday. We had a practice today. So let’s see how he is. I think right now we got a good rotation. It will be interesting to see if Michael gets in or not. But he definitely can help us as we move forward.”
(On Crisp’ 36-perfent field goal percentage) “I think it can be good shots not falling. I think sometimes one thing about David, he’s a scorer and he has an attack mentality. Sometimes he sees those opportunities. He’s learning as this is going too. I think for David, on David’s defense he takes a lot of shots with 2-3 seconds on the shot clock when the shot clock is going down. So you can’t really look at those. I judge point guards like coaches, winning games. He’s sacrificed a lot of his scoring for the betterment of the team. In anything that you do to be good kids have to sacrifice. A lot of times they’ll go ‘Who me? Why me? Why do I got to do it?’ He’s done an incredible job with that. The great thing about David – that’s why I always go back to this thing as a team – that’s how I know we’re just going to keep getting better and better as a team. If you give David 10 great shots at the perimeter, he’s making 4-5. We’ve got to do a better job of also getting him open looks. He’s the one doing that. Now Matisse (Thybule) on penetration. Jaylen (Nowell) on penetration, which are getting him really good looks because he’s a heckuva weapon for us.”
(On if it matters if growth happens at home or on the road) “It doesn’t really matter. I thought in Madison Square Garden I was curious how they would respond because environment matters. That’s why home court matters. You know, how are they going to be in the big moments? How are they going to be when the game is on the line? Every game so far this year when the game was on the line, we had made foul shots. We made shots. We’ve been done 9 and made plays. The UCLA game was the first game where we kind of just didn’t have an answer to that. They’re a good team. I think growth moments are everywhere. If they’re on the road, I think they’re more magnified. You have different environment issues. At home, you have tickets, family and you know, (and) your on bed. On the road, you could be more focused because you’re in a secluded area, but your playing on a pretty tough environment. So I think you’re looking at all of it. But any growth moment is a good growth moment.”
(On how to handle a cold-shooting performance in the last outing) “The one thing I’ve learned over time being around the great coaches that I’ve been around – and people – in this business you got to have a short-term memory. You got to go back and look at where your mistakes were. I was looking at the tape. Am I playing them too many minutes? Are they tired or what not? Then I look at shots at the rim. Are they short or long? I’m going to every analytic math, going to Hoopanalytics.com. I’m on trying to figure out everything that you can. But yeah, there’s no secret to success. There’s no shortcuts. My gut is hey yeah, we’re going to get those shots and we’re going to work on our shooting. We’re going to work on our fouls shots. And that’s what we do anyway, everyday. I think more so if we get those shots, there’s the what we always say good to great. There’s the good shot, to the great shot. You saw even in the Kansas game. What were we? Nine for 19? At USC we were 8 for whatever. We were getting non contested good 3. I think you shoot a higher percentage. I thought we were taking good shots, they just weren’t great shots that were late contested, but guys running at you. So the learning curve for us is any good to great is better than just good. That’s what we’re trying to promote. So more so, we’ll watch some film. Look at the differences. This is great. This is good. You can still make these, but let’s look at this and we have a couple of drills that we practice it with. But yeah, shoot them, shoot them, shoot them. Shoot them up.”
(On Star Wars: The Last Jedi) “I got to be honest with you, so this is my kids: ‘Dad it’s so boring.’ Not boring, but they’re telling the story. But when I tell you, the first (action) scene then it’s kind of like the … It was one of the best ones that I’ve ever seen. Did anybody else see it? I thought it was really, really good. It got a little too jokey and so on. It had the Disney. My son, who is Mr. Star Wars is like ‘Dad, I didn’t like that they tried to make it funny.’ I’m like buddy, we’re in 2018 now. You got to like it. But there’s always going to be the bad guy. There’s always going to be the good guy. I liked it a lot. I did. I enjoyed it.”