Hopkins on UW's decisive, late-game flurry: 'We were down 1 with seven minutes to go in the game and Matisse Thybulle decided to be Deion Sanders.'

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Washington men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins breaks down the Huskies’ 86-73 win over Omaha on Sunday.

(Opening statement) “This team has played an incredible schedule. Omaha has played the likes of Louisville. There’s no fear factor. These guys came in and they moved the ball and they executed exceptionally well. I thought for moment, especially the first 15 minutes we got back to 1-on-1 basketball. We got back to no movement and it showed with our offensive numbers. There were periods in the second half where we moved it, where there was more flow and we got some opportunities, which was really good. We just kept letting the three-point shooters shoot. We’ve had this same talk seven times? What’s our record? Eight times. Teams can shoot. You can’t hope that they miss. You got to force them to miss. We were down 1 with seven minutes to go in the game and Matisse Thybulle decided to be Deion Sanders. You saw the effect that he has on the game. And then everybody, the urgency to find the shooters. Then we were getting the rebounds and those 50-50 balls that we weren’t getting for 32 minutes or 33 minutes of the game. That’s the difference. We’re at our best when we are playing defense and rebounding the ball and flying around. Sam Timmins in the first half would get it and bobble it. But in the second half, he’d get it and do what? Dunk. And that’s how we have to play. For the coaching staff, we’ve just really have tried to institute a mindset of it’s got to be that sense of urgency the whole time. I thought the first half they played us a little bit like Seattle (University). They put the big guy in the back and they weren’t guarding Sam. We weren’t effective. We put Hamier (Wright) in the game and he hit a couple of big shots for us. He spaced it out a little bit. He made a little drive to the basket. But they fought. Those kids fought. Omaha is really well coached. And they shoot it really well. But that last seven minutes, that’s what hopefully we can do over time and that’s what it looks like. It’s hard to show a team when they can’t see it, but we saw what it looks like. And we’ve seen it. We just need it for longer periods of time.”

(How are you able to be aggressive in the zone?) “It’s more aggressive. It’s just like a man-to-man. It’s high hands, it’s closing out, it’s not letting them think they even have space to shoot the ball. You have to make them uncomfortable. You’ll see sometimes, you’re looking and there’s nowhere to go. You’ll talk to coaches after that game and I’m like ‘your length and the size, it’s so difficult.’ But then when we’re standing and we’re letting teams just do what they want to do, if you did that in man-to-man you’d get crushed. It just goes back to like in our zone, we have to play better zone. We had a couple really good traps. They called one timeout in the first half and I think you could see us do more of that, more tempo stuff, our 2-2-1 we used a little bit in the first half, but no defense is good unless you’re connected and you’re playing with a sense of urgency and purpose. Like I told the team at the end, you give them the game plan to execute and they have to go out and execute it. Sometimes you’re like you have to jump start them, you’ve got to get the defibrillator and rub them and hit them. It took us until the seven minute mark to really make a difference and get some separation.”

(So it wasn’t your pep talk at the eight-minute mark that turned things around?) “No, it’s all about those guys. It’s their team. It’s what they want to be. And if they want to win all we’re doing is telling it what it takes and what you have to be to be a champion. And it’s up to them. And those guys came out and they executed. It was Matisse Thybulle all of a sudden turning the ignition on. And David Crisp really locking down. And Jaylen (Nowell). We ended up putting our starters back in the game where before we had different guys. And those guys finished it. We just have to do it for longer periods of time. Our bench, Dom (Dominic Green) had a bad ankle. He hadn’t had couple of practices where just half-practices and quarter-practices. You could see it was still hampering him a little bit. But our bench has got to be huge for us. We got some energy. We got some finishers. And two of them did a really good job tonight and two of the other ones have helped us win games in the past so that’s a positive. But we’re growing. Hameir has been a surprise because he gives you the size and the shooting. Moving forward, I think we’re getting better.”

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(On Matisse Thybulle) “I think the biggest thing is God gives you certain strengths and weaknesses, your God-given ability. Everybody wants to do this and that and he’s got incredible anticipation, he has incredible feel and he can cover space like this. You saw him, he was late and he still blocked the shot. That’s a God-given ability and I tell him all the time ‘use it. You’re a difference maker and be proud of that.’ How many guys can be two level players at a high-level? He can be. Matisse, even at the Kennesaw State game, I don’t know if it was the stomach bug or flu the game before and he was dead and he still played, sucked it up. He means so much to our team not only on the defensive end, but he score for us. He can make shots. Don’t concentrate on that. Focus on ‘I’m going to be dominating defensively, I’m going to make a difference. When I’m out there they’re going to be like ‘oh my gosh the boogie man is here.’’ You know what I mean? He’s out there with his Spiderman and being that aggressor, it changes everything on the defensive end.”

(On David Crisp) “Listen, the greatest thing about David is he’s bought into everything that we’ve talked about. He’s playing more minutes than he’s ever played in his life and he’s competing at a high level day in and day out. The last game he had one of his best games and the great thing about David is he has the ability to score and make shots. I love point guards that can score. He’s actually made really good decisions. Tonight he made a couple we’ll go chest to chest on probably tomorrow. For the most part, I’ve been very happy with David. He’s been a great leader. He’s been a guy that’s playing 36 minutes, he’s busting his tail on defense. He’s doing a lot for us to be successful. I’m happy where he’s at. His ability to score, you can have four guys, even five guys with our lineups that can score that are in the game and that makes you very, very difficult to guard.”