Hopkins on halftime speech: '"BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP.'
Down six at halftime, Washington men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins chewed into the Huskies during an expletive-laced locker room speech.
When asked about the pep talk following an 80-77 win over Loyola Marymount, Hopkins was able to laugh and smile as he provided a PG-rated account of the tirade.
Here’s everything he had to say during his postgame press conference.
(How frustrating was it when things weren’t going your way and still have a finish like that?) “Have you ever played golf? You know, when you’re in the sand trap a lot and you’re going please get it out and it goes and it pops back? It’s hard. This team has grown in so many ways and I give them a lot of credit for fighting. It could have gone either way. They made the plays that they had to, we made the foul shots when we didn’t make them in the first part of the game where we made them at the end. Jaylen Nowell made a big shot, we got a stop when we had to. But we just can’t keep putting ourselves in those situations. There’s so many times where we get up 7, we make a great run and we just give it back. Some of the times you’ve got three freshmen on the court at the same time, so they’re learning. To be able to learn through a win, even though it’s not pretty – the bottom line is you’re trying to get the W. We can go through the tape and watch and get better, but it’s hard. But they are great learning experiences for our team as well.”
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(Do you harp more on getting the win at the end, or is more about trying to knock teams out?) “For me and the coaching staff, the mindset is – we need to knock ’em out. And we need to keep pushing. That’s what the great teams do, and that’s what we’re trying to be. Part of that is a mindset. Foul trouble hasn’t helped us. We’ve been getting into early foul trouble a lot. We’ve got to do a better job of defending without fouling. If we can do that we’ll have our better defenders in for longer periods of time, which makes a difference. We’ve just got to do it for longer periods of time. When you get that 7-point lead you can’t just go back to one. We’ve got to be able to have stronger possessions, really value the ball and make sure we’re getting a good shot. I thought tonight they did a really good job of constantly switching their defenses, which kind of threw off the rhythm of the game for us and really got us a little bit stagnant. But you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. That was a really good game plan.”
(What was the talk at half after finishing the first half 0-11 from the field and the offense is searching for answers?) “BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. BLEEP. We decided to try and press the tempo a little bit. We’d been working on our 2-2-1 (trap) a lot but it’s been more of to take time off the clock. We’ve been able to be really aggressive out of it and create some steals, some turnovers, got the crowd involved a little bit, got some easy baskets, got the energy back up, the flow. Sometimes it can get stagnant. That was really good for us. It was moreso, don’t panic. We’re down, we’ve been down before. This is what we have to do to get better. We’re going to start our 2-2-1 and try and create some tempo, some steals and force them into playing a little bit faster. Then they got a little bit comfortable with it and started to drive all the way down the middle of the lane and you can’t be as aggressive as you wanted to be because we were in foul trouble. We’ve got to do a better job of learning how to defend at a high level without fouling.”
(What were the things that made Noah successful the last five minutes?) “Early in the game our lack of energy, you could just feel it. You could see it. We needed a spark and sometimes you get an early foul…when they are kids, 18, 19, 21-year old kids, sometimes a call here or I didn’t get the ball or they fouled me…whatever it may be can take you out mentally, and we’ve just got to be better at that. Sometimes he gets discouraged, but he’s a guy where, in the second half we need him. What did we say in the second half? We’ve got to get it to Noah. We’ve got to get to the foul line, and we’ve got to create some tempo. Noah’s one of the best big guys in the country, we’ve been playing through him all year and he was 0-2 in the first half. He needs more touches.”
(What’s your comfort level playing three freshmen at the same time?) “It’s hard. When I’m coaching I’m putting the guys who I think are the best combination and I’m not thinking freshmen. And then the coaches are like, coach you know there’s the freshmen guards and I’m like dammit! That’s how they get better, and that’s how we’re going to be better and how there’s growth on the team. The good thing about this team is we have a long way to go and we can get a lot better. The scary thing is, if you can’t. Naz Carter I thought in the second half gave us great minutes. He got a couple steals. He didn’t make his foul shots but he attacked the basket with an energy and an attack mentality. And that’s what we have to do. Sometimes when teams play you get into a jump-shooting mentality. I thought we shot more threes than we have in a long time. They are getting better. Hameir is great and obviously Jaylen, what can you say about Jaylen? He’s exceptional.”
(What is it like managing fouls while also making sure you have the best combinations out there?) “As a coach you’re trying to get them organized offensively and the movement we’re trying to focus on side-to-side, go inside or attack. Defensively it’s the same thing. But they’re kids. We tell the guys don’t foul and you foul. Those are great learning experiences for us. And young guys, they’re gonna make those. The really cool thing about this team is you have a good mixture of upperclassmen that are really talented and then you’ve got a good mixture of younger guys that I think are just going to keep getting better and better as the season goes along.”
(When you’re playing zone, is it possible to shut down an offensive player who is going off? How do you do that?) “It’s what we tried to do against Devonte Graham of Kansas. It’s just a focus. Tonight they did a good job of getting in the high post. The 7-3 kid who started posting up on the weak side…Kansas did it to us with Azubuike on the other side and they put the big kid on and tried to get it to him a couple of times behind it for lobs. The great thing about the zone is that there’s only so many ways attacks that people can make. If you asked a coach at School A they could have 50 different offensive sets. If you asked a coach at that school how many zone sets do you have they probably have three or four. So we’re able to see a lot and adjust and adapt to how that goes. Now it’s a matter of us coaching them better to be able to make those adjustments at halftime so you can either shrink it or stretch it. But the cool thing is, if we want to take something out, we can. Sometimes you get so stretched, it’s like a pair of jeans that have been worn for a month and you finally put them in the dryer and it shrinks back. We’re about to play some teams that we have to shrink it back where we’ve been extended, and tonight they got into the high post a little easier. We’ll keep getting better and better and that’s the most exciting thing.”