Following narrow win over Division II Saint Martin's, Washington men's basketball coach Mike Hopkins said: 'It was a great learning experience for us.'
Here’s video of the postgame press conference with Washington men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins after the Huskies’ 91-87 win Thursday over Division II Saint Martin’s.
(Opening Statement) “(St. Martin’s) Coach (Alex) Pribble did a heck of a job. They executed. We had scrimmaged Boise State this last week and it was a really good team and really shot the ball and moved the ball well. They were well prepared. They had a lot of guys making threes out there. We decided to go into more of a man to man and some different types of lineups that got us back into the game in the first half and then the second half. I think mentally when you play a team like that you have to make sure that they don’t have the three point line. We kept saying ‘no threes, no threes, no threes,’ and they somehow find ways or little openings. They did a heck of a job. Tip our hats off to them. I was proud of our guys at the end being down and during some adversity and some guys made some big plays and we got some big stops when we needed them. It was a great learning game for us tonight.”
(On biggest takeaway) “I think the biggest thing is we’re going to play teams that run four and five out. I think the biggest thing is when you play teams, the experience that I’ve had defensively, you have to, if it’s takeaway the three point shot, you have to take it away right away. It has to be so uncomfortable that they don’t even see the basket. What happened is they made seven threes in the first six minutes of the game. Then what happens? They get really confident, they feel comfortable. The idea of defense is getting them to feel uncomfortable. These breakdowns, they’re learning the zone, it’s a new system. We’ll get better at it. At the end of the day I thought our man to man switching worked for us, got it back up to whatever our lead was at halftime, six. In the second half you can’t think the game is over or it’s going to go that way. You have to go out and earn it. We had some defensive breakdowns. I thought some of the guys, I kept Noah (Dickerson) a little bit too long. I thought he got tired and he broke down a couple times when they got some threes. The biggest thing is going to be our defense. We did a really good job down at Boise. Tonight, they got us. That’s what you can hang your hat on. I think that’s the biggest takeaway.”
(On Jaylen Nowell’s shot at the end) “I called and I told them flat screen for Jaylen (Nowell), go until there’s eight (seconds) on the clock. He went when there was about six. I was starting to get a little panicky, like ‘go!’ He’s a player. He’s a guy that likes the big moment. He made the big play. Offensively I thought we were average, below average. We didn’t want to show a lot. You’re playing a team that – a lot of teams are not getting our tapes, so you’re not showing a lot, trying to get it to Noah (Dickerson) a little bit, trying to space the floor. We’ve been working on going four out and it just didn’t flow. There was no flow to the offense. It was stagnant. The ball wasn’t popping and those are things we need to get better at. There has to be more flow. We worked on passing it up, cutting through, getting space, and movement. They just didn’t feel comfortable with it yet. There was pass up, cut through, and then hold, and then the defense sets. The big takeaway too was when the game was tight, the guys made plays. Tell it how it is. We went to the foul line. Noah did a good job early in the game. We missed some layups, some opportunities down there. 30-39 (from the free-throw line), that’s a start for us. We have to do a better job rebounding the ball, but a win is a win. We have a long way to go to get better. We’ll do it everyday.”
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(On difficulties in identifying scoring threats) “What they did in the zone, you know where they’re at. They’re not moving around. What we thought was we would be able to play man to man, switch off, and force them to make plays rather than to shoot threes. That’s what you want them to do. You take away 18 threes and give them 18 twos and you win by 22. They did a really good job. They have a great play where it’s like a dribble weave and it’s fast. When you’re switching and we’re switching with the five man it’s easy to kind of get lost and that’s what happened a couple of times. A couple of times Hameir (Wright) got sucked in and they’d pass but it was because of movement. They were doing a good job of getting mismatches out of the movement. They would have their best player with our five man on him and you’d have your hands down and a couple of times Hameir got lost. Knowing where they are, even when there’s fast movement, when a point guard and a five man get combined together, it’s a little bit hard to cover.”
(On having a sense of urgency at start of games) “I think there’s the urgency and then there’s the execution of it. A lot of people can say it; you have to do it. I think with them, there’s such a fine line, margin for winning and losing. What you’re trying to do is correct the mistakes, as many mistakes as possible, to have the best probability to win. Those guys on the defensive end, it goes back to the three point shot, it’s not just urgency, it’s moving up. It’s not playing hard, it’s executing and using your length. We have long wing players, but you have to be able to execute that. I thought the second half late when we needed baskets we ran a couple plays to get Noah the ball and there was some space and some guys really attacked the space and got to the foul line or got a layup. I thought the guys did that really well. This is a team that hadn’t felt winning for a long time. Even to find and go through that tough, depending on who you play, feeling that and making plays down the stretch. Jaylen Nowell with a little game winner to put the game away at the end was nice. He’s a really talented player. I thought our young guys, Naziah (Carter) and Hameir were a little bit, you can get a little nervous and young guys break down. We came out with it some how some way.”