After allowing 87 points in an exhibition win last week, coach Mike Hopkins made changes to UW's defense.
Washington men’s coach Mike Hopkins met with the media Wednesday to discuss last week’s 91-87 win over Division II Saint Martin’s and Friday’s regular-season opener against Belmont.
Here’s everything he had to say.
(What do you want this team to be?) “I want to be great defensively and I want to fight on the court. Those are the things you can control, and with that play together. You can’t control missing shots, you control trying to get better shots and making sure the right guys are getting shots. The most important thing is that you’ve got to take pride in defense, and you’ve got to do it together.”
(Offensively, what’s this team going to look like?) “We’ve tried new things. One of the biggest things we’re trying to do is get the ball side-to-side, get the ball moving and make the defense move. We have certain guys that have some freedom on the ball screen. Jaylen Nowell is talented and obviously David Crisp has had some big games offensively. Got to find ways to get Noah…we started the lineup with Dominic to get some space and if they double-teamed make them pay. You’re going to see a curve ball, you’re going to see a fastball, you’re going to see a stall, you’ll see whatever it takes to win. And every game is going to be different – bottom line.”
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(What do you have to do to be a good defensive team to set the tone in a game?) “The big thing is you can’t hope they miss shots, you’ve got to make them miss shots. And that’s being active, understanding your roles and doing your job when you’re on the court. I felt like in one of our scrimmages that we played we were all over the place, we were really active at all five positions. And I thought in our scrimmage we broke down a lot, we allowed them to take shots that any good team can make, and they did. They made us pay. Our whole focus has been on our 2-3 zone being really active. We’ve made some changes in it and so you’ll see some lineup changes in terms of size at the top of the zone rather than more of a mixture. Sam Timmins makes a big difference in that defense because he clogs the paint and is a great rim protector. But we’re learning with this team. I thought we would have a different result in the St. Martin’s game than the Boise game, but those things happen. We go back and watch tape, get in here. The zone defense is what makes us different, unique, and gives us something to hang our hats on, and that’s what we’re going to try and be great at.”
(On scouting Belmont) “They can really shoot the basketball. They shot 35 last year a game. They’ve got one of the great coaches of all time in coach Byrd. It’s funny someone was asking me about Belmont and I said I’ve been around coach Krzyzewski, I’ve been around coach Boeheim for a long time, in a lot of those meetings and they always talk about the great coaches that don’t’ get a lot of hype and he’s one of the great ones. He’s built an incredible program. They’re very well coached, they know how to space the floor. Their strength is their offense. They move the ball, they’ve got shooters 1 through 5, and I feel like if we can do a good job stopping them, holding their percentages down, making them uncomfortable, which we didn’t do in the last game, then we’ll have a chance in the game.”
(Can you teach energy and what did see on film?) “The big thing is you’ve got to play every possession. First of all you have to respect the game. everybody you play can play. You’ve got ot go out there and execute what we’ve been putting in and play with a sense of urgency. I felt like we just didn’t have that same energy. I don’t know why. It’s one of those things you were scratching yoru head. The two things we’re going to do is play hard and we’re going to play together. If that doesn’t happen you’ll see some rotations changed and certain guys playing.”
(Same lineup Friday?) “We’re still balancing that out.”
(On what have guys learned about you in game situations) “That if you don’t play hard you’re going to be coming out. You’ve got to be able to play defense and that’s the one thing we’re hanging our hat on right now. Again we’re all learning each other, there is a lot of newness. But the biggest thing is the kids have been working hard, have been trying and that’s the most important thing. It’s just one of the those things we’re focused on the process of getting better every day. I know that’s the corny coaching thing to say. Every time I sit here and talk I’m going to say it, but it’s really true. You have to master the simple things. The one area in the last game we were pretty happy with, we didn’t turn the ball over a lot and we made foul shots. Noah Dickerson being 13 for 17 from the foul line I thought was a real positive thing. He’s going to get the ball a lot, he puts people in bad situations on defense, gets you in foul trouble, gets you in the bonus early. So a couple of strategy tings that we’ve been working on that will help this team have a great chance to win.”
(Jaylen Nowell and last shot in exhibition) “Omigosh he was born to. That kids just loves to score. He’s everything you want in a player. He competes. He believes. And he performs. He doesn’t just say it, he wants the ball. And he’s just going to keep getting better and better. He’s got the ability to get in the lane and make others better. I think one of the things with the type of team that we’re trying to put out there with four perimeter players at certain times, you’re spacing the floor and you’re attacking. But with that attacking you got to find shooters. I think Naz Carter, I think Jaylen have the ability to get in that get gap and get in those lanes and get easier shots for other guys, which can be an advantage as we keep moving forward.”
(On Nowell and playing in front of family and friends) “This is a special place. The kids in this area love the University of Washington. To be able to go to games as a young kid, having your family watch you and play on that court and be in college is a dream come true I’m sure for a lot of them. He’s no exception. He’s a special player. I just think you’re going to see get better and better.”
(On UCLA shoplifting incident being a teachable moment) “We live by a quote: ‘It’s not how you do anything, it’s how you do everything.’ If you make bad decisions off the court, you’re probably going to make bad decisions on the court. Understanding that we’re teaching these kids to be professionals. We don’t just say professional basketball players. Professional people. Coach Pete in our locker room has the dumb board. He puts stories of people’s mishaps and stuff like that. We talk to our guys a lot about certain things that happen. And how you do anything is how you do everything.”