Hopkins on retiring Thomas' jersey: 'It's a great thing that we're doing and a great move by the university.'

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Washington’s Mike Hopkins explains the thinking that went into the decision to retire Isaiah Thomas’ No. 2 jersey.

The first-year Huskies men’s basketball coach said Thomas has a passion for the University of Washington, Husky basketball, Seattle and his hometown Tacoma.

Hopkins also touched on Sunday’s game between Washington (7-3) and Loyola Marymount (5-4).

(Opening statement) “We decided to honor and retire Isaiah Thomas’ No. 2 jersey, which we’re really excited about. He’s been so supportive to what we’re doing here. We had the opportunity during one of our early practices when he came and spoke to the team. His passion for this university and what it’s done for him is pretty special. We couldn’t be more excited to honor. To be a part of that moment, I just think it’s a great thing that we’re doing and a great move by the university.”

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(On the process) “I don’t know what type of process it is. I just know it used to be I think All-American. But he’s done so much not only for the community, but his basketball career has been one of the most inspiring basketball careers. Before I was here, I used to talk to my son about some of the quotes he had made about being the last pick (in the NBA draft) and how he used it to motivate him in his stint in Sacramento and becoming one of the best guards in the game. He represents everything that you would want your son or daughter to represent. Hard-working. Passionate. Believing in yourself. Loyal to the people and the places that have helped you get to the place where you’ve gotten. I just think it’s incredible.”

(On if he recruited Thomas at South Kent School in Connecticut) “It was interesting because I recruited Dion Waiters and Dion Waiters – and I don’t know if anybody knows this – but it was Isaiah Thomas and Dion Waiters was the backcourt at South Kent. So I had spent some time there. I was able to talk to him when I got announced as the head coach and he was really supportive. And like I said, we had him when he came back with his hip (injury) he had come up to the university and spoke with our team. I wish we were videotaping. It was one of those ones where you’re like omigod. He’s like throwing jewels. He’s throwing diamonds and stuff and you’re like please get this. Just because, you know when you see someone and they talk about their passion and love for a school. It was like after winning the Kansas game. They’re all watching. And they’re all proud. And that’s what it’s all about. There’s so much pride in the school that you go to. The people that you love and the people that have helped you get to where you are today. It even makes it better when they’re grateful of that opportunity and that’s one of the things that makes him special.”

(On who is the next former UW player to have their jersey retired) “There’s so many great players. Gosh, you look back at Detlef Schrempf and Nate Robinson. There’s just been so many guys. One of the great things about being the head coach here is the tradition and the amount of great players. Being at Syracuse there were so many. It was Carmelo Anthony. It was Lawrence Moten. There’s just been so many great players that I’m sure we’ll see as the years go on more and more guys be retired.”

(On the loss to Gonzaga) “You’re going to open up a wound? Is that what you’re doing? Is that what you’re doing? Merry Christmas. You know what it is, live and learn. I felt like it was the first time where we were exposed in rebounding. The other games, in Kansas we were plus-3. The other games we’ve been around plus-1 or negative-1. This game they scored 26 points off second-chance baskets. We didn’t do as good a job with a sense of urgency in the end-of-shot clock situations. They made some 3s where we allowed them to shoot rather than take it away. They were able to capitalize on that. Offensively, I didn’t feel like we were as poised. I said after the game I don’t know whether that was Gonzaga or that was else. I felt like Gonzaga had a lot to do with that. They double teamed a lot harder than the teams in the past. They were good on the defensive ball screens with David (Crisp) and forced him to speed up a little bit. But for the most part, it’s a great lesson. Until you know and until you experience something like that, that’s the only way you know how to come back and have a better game if you play them the next day. That’s what we’ve been working on. It’s rebounding, making sure that we can get back and rebound out of our defense even if we’re extended on the three-point line. And then having poised based on certain situations when teams really try to take us out of what we’re doing in our rhythm. Different ways where we can do what? We can come back. Dribble out. Ok, we’re not going to be sped up. We’re going go play at our pace and our tempo.”

(On keeping teams off the free throw line in wins) “It goes back to us too. It goes back to we didn’t go to the foul line as much. The games at homes, we’ve been really good from the foul line. It was the first time where we got behind because we weren’t making. We went 14 times, we were seven for 14. I just felt like in this game Matisse getting the second foul early in the game hurt us. We had one great rim run where it was 7-6 in the game and Noah got an offensive foul, which he had a lay up opportunity. Sometimes that happens. Early in the game, they were able to get into the bonus early. There were three or four possessions where we took a quick shot, we got an over the back offensive rebound where we try to go to the glass to be aggressive and we got an over the back call. You miss the layup, you get the foul, and they go with the foul shot and make two foul shots. Those are foul point plays. Even though we were being aggressive, I felt like we made some fouls that we can clean up and be more aware of, but when you’re playing against a team of that caliber, you can’t have four point-plays. You can’t get in early foul trouble with arguably one of your best players with Matisse Thbulle. That goes back to living and learning. Unfortunately in this game we had to learn from a loss.”

(On Loyola Marymount and coach Mike Dunlap) “He spent a little time at St. John’s I think with coach (Steve) Lavin and he’s got a great reputation in the business as being a great coach and you know his teams will always keep getting better. So you can’t really look at the record of what it is now or look at the three point shooting. This is a team, in one of their games they made nine threes in the second half. You can’t look at their percentage and say they can’t shoot. These guys are well coached, as we’ve seen a lot of these games is kids can make shots. I think the biggest concerns that we have is they’re one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. When you have that kind of a mindset you just get through a Gonzaga game where they hurt you on the glass and getting second chance points and offensive rebounds. We have to do a better job of retightening it up, even though you’re playing it, but really focus on getting five guys on the glass where we can neutralize that. If we can rebound, especially when you’re playing with a guy like Jaylen (Nowell) in the back because you’re smaller. If he can get it, we can capitalize on going. Focusing on David and Matisse are averaging a little over two rebounds a game and Jaylen is averaging a little over three, I think 3.7. We have to have a focus because if our guards are getting those rebounds, now we can do what? We can attack a little bit and that’s what you have to do against good offensive rebounding teams.”

(On if official calls in post have been consistent) “Yeah, it is. Cameron (Dollar) has done a great job, it goes back to you teach these guys, they have to be able to go and execute it in a game and you try to create as much as a game situation as possible. It goes back to when people say you’re going to play against Washington zone. They can talk about it, but they can’t really mimic it until you experience it. We’re a work in progress. We’re doing it, working on those things everyday. I think moving forward, what you see in the Kansas game, which worked because we took away the three point line and they didn’t go to the foul game. The Zags were able to capitalize on offensive rebounding and finish. They were literally shooting layups around the rim. What we have to do is have better rim protection. What did we say at the beginning when I go the job? You have the three point line. That’s your fence. You have to defend the fence. Your paint is your home, you have to protect your home. You have to make them play in the yard, which is 15, 10 foot jump shots. If they make those, that’s what we’re going to deal with. We have to protect the three point line, better rim protection without falling. If we can do that, I know that’s easier said than done, we have the ability, we’ve proven it. We just have to do it for longer periods of time.”