In the latest edition of the Washington Huskies Hoops mailbag, we provide answers to your most pressing questions regarding the UW men’s basketball team.
Plenty to digest so let’s get started.
This is a good question and quite frankly, it shouldn’t happen.
Whatever feelings anyone may have on big-time Division I sports (and there are so many), the mechanisms are so refined and honed through years of trial and errors that it’s almost fail proof.
At virtually every major college with a million-dollar athletic budget, the system is designed to keep student-athletes (a term the NCAA prefers rather than players) on the court. Washington has an army of tutors, support and virtually limitless resources staff to prevent anyone from falling off track.
Green did not meet the standard according to the NCAA: “All Division I student-athletes must earn at least six credit hours each term to be eligible for the following term.”
To my knowledge, the last men’s basketball player that was ruled academically ineligible was Jeffrey Day in 2003.
It must be noted that the UW men’s basketball team finished second in the Pac-12 last year in the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a NCAA metric that tracks academic progress and retention over a four-year span. Washington scored 986 in the APR in 2019 after posting perfect scores of 1,000 the previous two years.
And this is not meant to pile on Green.
From my understanding, he’s been exemplary since transferring from Kentucky last year. After a relatively slow start his tough, gritty personality was starting to take hold on the Huskies and he had become a charming persona in postgame interviews.
Green was thriving on the court, where he averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 assists in 15 games. He was shooting 51.4% from the field, 44.7% on three-pointers and 83.7% at the free-throw line.
Green had scored in double figures in his past eight games, including a 21-point performance against Ball State and 20-point games versus Eastern Washington and Seattle University.
The Huskies knew about his academic troubles weeks before announcing last Thursday that he would have to sit out the winter quarter, which ends March 20.
Mike Hopkins said he feels “terrible for everybody involved, but especially for Quade.”
Good question. Feels like the Huskies will need to get innovative to get Isaiah Stewart some good looks at the basket.
Stanford did an amazing job with their double teams that seemed to arrive just as Stewart was ready to make a move toward the basket. The Cardinal crowded him and made him uncomfortable throughout its 61-55 win last Thursday. He finished with a career-low four points on 2-for-8 shooting and three turnovers.
And California — to an extent — was effective at negating Stewart, who finished with 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting and three turnovers during a 61-58 overtime defeat.
It’s not surprising that Stewart’s scoring slump — he was averaging 19.5 points prior to the past two games — coincides with Green’s absence. Theoretically, the pick-n-roll would be help Stewart if Washington can find someone to initiate the play. Ideally, Green would be the best option since he’s a deft ball-handler who can exploit mismatches on the perimeter against bigger defenders or drive to the rim.
A pick-n-roll involving Jaden McDaniels and Stewart would be intriguing, but the play generally works best between guards and big men, which would put a smaller defender on Stewart.
But whether it’s pick-n-rolls, pick-n-pop or isolation plays, the Huskies will have to find alternative ways to support Stewart offensively. Oregon State and Oregon — this week’s opponents — are too good defensively to think Washington can simply throw the ball in the middle and expect Stewart to bully his way to the basket.
This one is puzzling. Before the season, Hopkins raved about UW’s depth and said there’s very little dropoff between players 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the rotation.
And Hopkins astutely experimented with lineups and used everyone available during the team’s four summer exhibitions in Italy. (At the time Green was ineligible due to NCAA transfer rules and McDaniels did not travel with UW due to personal reasons.)
The Huskies got their first extensive look at redshirt freshmen big men Nate Roberts and Bryan Penn-Johnson as well as the freshmen guards RaeQuan Battle and Marcus Tsohonis.
Roberts was the team’s top rebounder at times, who drew rave reviews for his hustle and tenacity. Penn-Johnson, a 7-foot center, looked promising as a rim protector. Tsohonis had some shining moments running the team while Battle showcased a deadly jumper.
But once the regular season began, Hopkins shortened the rotation to eight players while relying almost primarily on reserves Jamal Bey, Elijah Hardy and Sam Timmins.
Keep in mind, this is not new for Hopkins. In his previous two years, he used primarily an 8-man rotation with Nahziah Carter, Dominic Green and Timmins as the top reserves.
So if history is a criteria, then Battle, Tsohonis, Roberts and Penn-Johnson were never going to get more than mop-up duty unless they could crack the top eight in the rotation.
I’ll tackle the first two questions because I believe they’re entwined. I’ve expressed in past forums my belief that Carter needs to take over in crunch time because he’s the only one on the team with the requisite skill set and experience.
McDaniels is another option and the 6-9 forward is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams who can get off a good shot against practically anybody.
But choosing a “go-to guy” comes down to trust and it’s difficult to trust McDaniels in those high-leverage situations considering he leads the Pac-12 with 3.4 turnovers per game.
Carter is second on the team with 2.5 turnovers, but he’s still a more viable choice in crunch time.
Still it’s interesting Carter doesn’t handle the ball more during the game as backup point guard the way Jaylen Nowell did last year. Hopkins has assigned Bey to that role, which has allowed Carter to play off the ball and score on the perimeter.
Ooooh. You went there. Just skipping right past 2020 and going straight to 2021.
I feel ya. And it makes sense considering the Huskies are seemingly doing the same thing after whiffing on a 2020 recruit during the early signing. According to recruiting analysts, Washington isn’t targeting a high-profile 2020 recruit despite what’s expected to be at least three departures on the roster.
Landing O’Dea forward Paolo Banchero, the No. 3 overall 2021 prospect, would certainly be a boon for Hopkins and the Huskies. Washington picked up a verbal commitment from Olympia’s four-star center Jackson Grant, who is listed as the No. 2 player in the state behind Banchero for the Class of 2021.
Banchero was expected to take a recruiting trip to Gonzaga this weekend to watch the Bulldogs play BYU.
Weather permitting, the touted big man is expected to lead No. 1 O’Dea against Eastside Catholic this week. The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was postponed.
Let’s end here because this is really the most relevant question going forward.
There’s no sugarcoating this, things are bad right now for the Huskies, who have lost four of their past five games. But we’ve seen plenty of teams recover from a midseason stumble, finish strong and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
Last season, Washington was 24-7 and 15-3 at the end of the regular season and that team needed two wins in the Pac-12 Tournament to receive a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament.
With 14 regular-season games remaining, the Huskies (11-6, 1-3) would conceivably need to win at least 10 games to put themselves in position for one of the 36 at-large berths ahead of the conference tournament. (And that doesn’t take into consideration who those wins are against. For instance, wins at Utah, Colorado and Arizona are more meaningful than wins at USC, UCLA and WSU.)
The Huskies are clinging to a No. 11 seed in CBSsports.com’s Jerry Palm’s NCAA tournament forecast while ESPN’s bracket guru Joe Lunardi has tabbed UW among his First Four Out.
Washington is No. 50 in the NET rankings, which isn’t exactly a great barometer on which teams will make the Big Dance.
Last year, six teams finished higher than No. 50 in the NET and still received an at-large berth.
Here’s a look at those teams and their records on Selection Sunday: No. 55 Ohio State (19-14), No. 56 Temple (23-9), No. 57 Seton Hall (20-13), No. 61 Minnesota (21-13), N0. 63 Arizona State (22-10) and No. 73 St. John’s (21-12).
Washington still has a win against No. 2 Baylor, which hasn’t loss since that 67-64 upset in the regular-season opener, and that could help the Huskies if they can somehow get to 20 or so wins.