Dickerson said the Huskies have embraced the 2-3 zone defense installed by new coach Mike Hopkins.

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Washington men’s basketball forward Noah Dickerson met with the local media Tuesday to talk about Thursday’s 7 p.m. exhibition opener against Saint Martin’s at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Here’s everything he said.

(How have things been going with the team as far as learning new things?) “Pretty good. I think we all have a concept of what Coach Hop wants and needs from all of us on the court. I know we had to learn it pretty quick but I think we’ll get it down. The older guys learn faster than the younger guys, but they are starting to get it too.”

(What do you use to help you remember how to do things in a new system?) “At the end of the day it’s basketball. Not much to it. Just play basketball. A lot of the guys have been playing basketball all of their lives and so you’ve seen everything before at this point so at the end of the day just play basketball and put it all together.”

(What is it like working under Coach Dollar?) “He’s actually a coach I needed in life. I can’t lie to you. I love him, I love him to death, I cannot stand him but I love him. That’s my guy. He’s real hard on us, he expects nothing but perfection from us every single time and that’s something personally I really, really needed. I really needed a coach like that. He’s helped me grow as a person and as a player.”

(What did you need?) “Somebody to get on me. One of my problems was that in practice I would go hard enough where the coach wouldn’t tell me to do anything, go harder – but not hard enough where I’m actually getting better every day. He doesn’t allow that.”

(What are a couple things he’ll get on you every time for no matter what?) “If I do not go to the offensive glass every single shot. He said don’t worry about getting back. Leave that to the guards. Crash every single time. That’s the quickest thing to get him on me about is going to the glass. And one of the biggest things for me is just rebounding in general. Because he thinks I’m one of the best rebounders on the team. If I don’t grab a rebound or even attempt to go get it he gets in me.”

(How tough is it to rebound in the zone Coach Hop teaches?) “A little bit because of how we’re so extended. Not extended really, but no threes. One of the main parts of his zone is no threes. Play the percentages. Hand up but don’t want any threes. As a forward it’s hard to come back and rebound, so that’s one of the main things we’re focusing on in the time leading up to our first game, just rebounding out of (the zone). From the years’ past, defense has kind of been our problem, so we actually nipped that in the bud. Now we’re working on our rebounding out of it. It’s a process and we’re getting better every day.”

(Which freshman has surprised you?) “Honestly, everybody. They are all out there, they are all motivated and working hard. They are starting to understand the system and how coach wants. They’ll come in and give us great minutes.”

(Are you ready to play somebody else?) “I was happy to go play somebody else. We had that exhibition game on Thursday and the last week for us to really compare and get the little tweaks and things out of the zone and things like that. But I think we’re ready. I really do. And I can’t wait because we’ve came so far from last year. We’re nothing like last year. It’s time to go out and prove it.”

(Name 1 or 2 things that you want to see Thursday) “I want to see we hold the team under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. And rebounding out of the zone. The offense will come. I’m not worried about the offense. I know for a fact that everybody on the team can score. But our main problem in the past was defense. At this points, that’s all I care about – us defending and us rebounding.”

(Practice seems more intense) “Oh man. I actually don’t mind practice as much as I used to. I actually enjoy it because all of that intensity, all of that excitement that coach Hop shows, that’s all real. That’s really how he is 24/7. He really comes out there and he really loves to be out there. He show excitement. That’s all real. That’s not fake. And that makes it better for everybody else. Practices this year have been way different from years past. They are harder. They do ask for more, but I think because of that – what I really think from spring time to the summer time they’ve been kind of stepping stones and getting us prepared for how practices are supposed to be. To the outside world, it looks really, really hard, but I think because they’ve been kind of stepping stoning us into it from spring to now, it’s not really as bad as it looks. Eveybody has been getting so much better through time. So the practices, it’s really not too bad.

(Did you have to run the mile?) “We did not have to run the mile.”

(Yet?) “No. Not at all. Todd our new strength coach he said you guys don’t run the right way. That’s why your backs hurt. We will not be running the mile.”

(Do you guys have an identity?) “One thing that coach Hopkins is trying to get us to do is our defense. I don’t really want to talk about the scrimmage (against Boise State), but it will be our defense and you guys will see it on Thursday. That’s one thing that he’s been trying to change around, just care about defense and really care about it. I get hyped about stops, not just if somebody dunks on someone. I get hyped for stuff like that. The defense is probably really what it’s about. I want to say defense and you’ll see on Thursday.”

(How have guys bought into the personality of taking pride in defense?) “Pretty good actually. People fight it at first, but that’s because it’s what you’re taught. You learn habits over time and to break habits it takes a while. The month of October, it’s a long month and it’s just all practice so you have to time to really nip some of that stuff in the butt. At the beginning of October you could say it was really different, but now it’s like you get multiple stops in a row, you see guys fired up, clapping like ‘okay, let’s get another one, let’s get another one, let’s get another one.’ It’s really contagious.”

(What’s the best stop you’ve seen in practice?) “In one of the scrimmages my team didn’t let the other team score for eight minutes. That was probably the best. We had mostly returners, but we didn’t let the other team score for eight minutes. That was probably one of the best defensive sequences I’ve been a part of. That was pretty cool.”

(On improving free throw shooting) “We shoot a lot of them. Like a lot a lot. We shoot a lot of free throws and as a team we’ve gotten better just as a whole. Especially for me, because I go to the line so much, but as a team we’ve gotten better. We used to leave points on the board all the time. Points at the end of the game really hurt us, so we shoot them a lot.”

(How often do you shoot free throws?) “We want to shoot at least 100 a day. 100 a day. I try to shoot like 150-200 a day. I know for a fact my free throw has gotten better. At the end of practice we all sit on the baseline and shoot free throws and if you miss you run. Nobody wants to be the guy to make us run. We try to make them. A big improvement from last year is free throws.”

(How have you seen a difference in a guy like David Crisp?) “He’s playing fantastic. He’s seeing the floor, he’s making the right plays, making the right reads. Just like everybody, you get better with maturity and the older you get. He’s starting to slow down and understand it. Even Matisse (Thybulle). Matisse is playing amazing.”

(What have you seen out of the freshman so far?) “I think they all will come in and give us great minutes throughout the whole year, not just non-conference. They’re starting to learn what it takes to play in college and kind of what you need to do and what roles they have on the team and what they’re expected to do on the court. They’ve been playing well and I really do think they’ll get on the court and give us great minutes.”