Huskies rank 11th in Pac-12 scoring in league games, but Hopkins says; 'We don't have to change anything. We just have got to execute better.'
Washington men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins took a look back at Saturday’s 73-74 loss to Stanford and provided a preview of this week’s trips to Utah and Colorado.
The Huskies (13-5, 3-2 Pac-12) have struggled recently on offense. In the past four games, UW is averaging just 63.3 points.
Here’s a look at Tuesday’s weekly press conference. (Video provided courtesy of Dawgman.com.)
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(On Stanford loss) “I think we tried to force a little bit too much and had some turnovers. Offensively, we weren’t as patient as we needed to be. There were a couple of breakdowns at the end. The two three-pointers – one was a 2-point game when Jon-Jon (Daejon Davis) made it. And then there was the one when the trap wasn’t executed properly and they hit the 3 on the skip to (Dorian) Pickens, which was still a two-possession game at the time. We just didn’t execute. You got to on the offensive and defensive end, whatever we call you just have to execute it and try to get the best shot possible. I felt like we settled for some quicker shots when I thought we could get some better shots. They were good open shots, but I think we can get better. And that’s something we’ll work on in the next 2-3 days.”
(On expecting setbacks) “You’re always going to have your highs and lows. There’s always stages of the season. That happens. Also teams have seen us for however many games we’ve played – 20 games or whatever it is – they’ve scouted you. You still have to keep evolving as a team. You’re back in school. There’s so many different environment issues that happen when you’re playing. but for the most part, I’m happy with what we’re doing. We just have to execute better. We don’t have to change anything. We just have got to execute better offensively. We have to be sharper passing. We have to cut harder. Our timing has to be better. Our spacing has to be better. We talk about good to great shots. You can go from a good shot to a great shot and that’s when your percentages will start going up. Defensively, I’ve thought we’ve done really good for stretches. But we’ve broken down at times when you can’t break down and you got to be able to execute those plays. So I think execution is where we have to be sharper. And that will give us a chance.”
(On players being receptive after a loss) “You just want to have great teachable moments and you want to keep getting better. That’s what we focus on. Sometimes you have the emotions of someone not playing or I’m uncomfortable because I keep coming in and coming out. At the end of the day, there’s frustrations and tiredness. There’s long seasons, there’s (the) road, there’s school (and) there’s family. There’s a lot of stuff that people don’t know that might be happening in their personal lives. And it can be a roller-coaster sometimes, but part of this is – the one thing about having a great staff is the communication part with these kids talking to them. And getting them to understand their roles. And where we can improve and where they can improve. You have games where we’re running one of our plays against Cal, before we’d always get an open shot and the next thing you know they’re calling the play out and they’re trying to steal the ball, which they got a steal. Things are always evolving and they become with teams in league on a night to night basis. It’s tougher. Is it the second game when we’re not shooting good. Are we tired? What are the environmental issues? These are all things that we try to figure out as a staff, as we move forward. It’s part of the growing pains. It’s a long-winded answer for there will be highs and lows and growing pains and good games and bad games. We just have to stick to the process of what we believe in, which is try to learn from it and try to grow and get better. And once you can keep doing that, you’ll always have a chance to keep getting better. If it was this is what it is, you’re not seeing light at the end of the tunnel.The great thing about this team is I think there’s so much more to grow from.”
(On getting better shots) “I don’t think there’s a magic number. I just think, we do a couple of drills where we try to make the extra pass and get a better shot and focus on it. You don’t want your guys thinking about if they have a shot. If they have a good shot, you want them to shoot it because there’s also a confidence piece. You don’t want them thinking. Shooting, it’s like going to the foul line. It’s an intimate place. A mindset. I don’t think there’s a specific number. We shot really well against USC. We shot had nine 3s against Cal. We got a good-shooting team. The more that we keep promoting making the extra pass, go from good to great. And providing drills and situations at where those positions might be happening within our offense. Get guys aware of it. It makes them better. But we got good shooters. We do. I just think also, you go back to Washington State and something we talked about in the second half and we only took one 3. We shot 73 percent. You got to take what the defense give you. So we got to shoot better percentages and the only way you can do that is by going good to great.”
(On finding the balance between offensive players and defensive players) “It’s the balance that we’ve talked about before. Sometimes our best offensive lineup isn’t our best defensive lineup and what you were – the problem against Stanford is that they’re so good on the offensive glass, so you can’t just keep trading baskets. You have to be able to have – to be a championship level team you have to be able to get some stops and it’s sometimes we’re at the detriment of that. The first half, not only did Dominic (Green) make the shots, but he took a charge, he had two rebounds in the second half. A couple times a guy went high-low and he got out of the way rather than trying to make a play and trying to have some resistance. Those are my gut kind of decisions I make on the fly. I’m a gut coacher. Is that a word, a gut coacher? I’m coaching the gut.”
(On if players are in the right place on offense and defense and now it’s a matter of executing) “I think sometimes. I was a shooter. The worst thing I did is when I started missing I thought too much. I would look for space and separation, I knew what my shot was. I remember the days, if I missed a couple I was mentally on a different planet and started trying to do other things. I think part of that is great shooters, what do they do if they’re not making shots, they try to get fouled, go to the foul line, you make a couple, you see it go in. I thought that’s the adjustment we made great against Washington State in the second half. We looked for more opportunities to be aggressive, try to get to the foul line, and that led to attacks rather than settling. I think there needs to be a combination of both. I don’t want you to shoot it just because you’re open. I want you to shoot it to kill. I want you to shoot it, it’s automatic mentally. Like I’m shooting, I’m going to make this thing, I’m not shooting because I’m open. It’s that ‘I put that work in, and I get that shot and I’m going to knock it down.’”
(On if preference is pure shooters or effective shooters) “I think that’s what some guys are. I think there are certain guys that are scorers that make shots, and there are guys that are catch and shoot guys. We have some really good catch and shoot guys. It goes back to, if I’m going and you’re closing out on me, if I’m wide open it’s a different shot than if you’re flying at me and you’re seven-foot. Even if I get it off, it’s still up, it’s more of a rushed shot. Sometimes it’s better, you’re rushing at me, you know I’m a good shooter, then I can just do this (pump fake) and drive, and now we’re playing five versus four, and if someone else helps, now we get a great shot rather than taking a good shot, you can make that. It goes back as a coach to trying to get the highest percentage of a shot. There are some situations I think where we can fake more and penetrate and if they collapse, which normal teams do, we can kick out, get some better shots. I think if the higher percentage shot we shoot, we’re going to shoot a better percentage and that gives us a better chance to win, especially with our defense. With all that being said, what did we shoot, 37-percent? It was a two-point game with 3:32 left and we broke down defensively with a chance to take the ball and have the crowd in the game. That’s where I go back to potential. A few tweaks there, a couple of made shots, it’s a big difference with what we’re doing on the defensive end.”
(On the Utah-Colorado road swing) “Utah’s a great program, great coach. They started off winning on the road at Oregon and Oregon State. You’ve got to be pretty darn good to do that. And the hardest thing to do in this league is to go do the LA schools and play the Arizona schools. They’ve lost four in a row, but this is a team that is exceptionally hungry, exceptionally well-coached. They’ve got a great home court advantage. I think they are doing a black-out for the game, so it’s going to be a great environment, a great challenge for us. Those are the exciting times when playing in a program like this is, you get the rivalry games and you get to play in great environments, and Utah has one of the best in the league. You saw what Colorado did at home. And Utah, they are just really, really good. In this league, to win on the road you’ve got to play exceptionally well, and that’s what we’re trying to get our team to do. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us.”
(On the altitude at Utah and Colorado) “I don’t know. To be honest with you, I don’t even want to know. I just want to go play. (Syracuse) played in Salt Lake City. It’s like when they go and play against our zone, there’s a mindset to it. We’ve got to play against them? It’s like Princeton when they picked the number and Georgetown’s gotta play Princeton. Oh my gosh, the back doors! You’ve got to go there (Utah) and it’s got whatever the number of feet above sea level, it’s the intimidation, it’s the mindset. Our mindset is to go down there and I know if we execute and we play our defense we’ll have a chance to win the game. We’re going to have to make some shots. Better than 37 and 32 or 37 and 27 (percent). We can do that, we’ve got a chance. What you’re trying to do in every game is you’re trying to put yourself in a position to have a chance to win the game – especially near the end. And we’ve been really good in closing game situations. We broke down a little bit against Stanford but that happens. What’s the elevation there?” No habla Ingles. I don’t want to know anything about elevation.” (laughs)
(On if Sam Timmins is slumping) “When we were playing at our best games, Sam has been a force on the offensive glass. Defensively he’s just been aggressive. We need that from him. We played against UCLA, Noah gets double-teamed, passed to (Timmins), dunk! Takes the rim down. Against USC he goes underneath and reverses it. It’s a mindset. That’s when you know, as a coach. You know when they are at their A (game), when they are at their B (game), when they are at their C (game). We can’t win big without Sam Timmins. Sam Timmins is a difference-maker for our team on both ends of the court. He’s an exceptional rebounder. He’s been improved, but a lot of times it’s normal to drop a little bit and be where you can be, but we need him. He’s a difference-maker for us on the defensive end. And in that USC game, without the play of Sam Timmins, he was exceptional. And just his physical presence, when he’s going after it with two hands…even the Cal game. He didn’t have his best game but he made the big block. He makes plays. That’s what you want. You want guys that, even when their defense or their offense isn’t going well they go in and make plays, winning plays. And that’s what Sam Timmins is all about.”