Hopkins on NIT: "If we're going to play in this, let's go win it. Let's go get better. Let's have an opportunity to play some of these great teams."

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Mike Hopkins previewed No. 5 seeded Washington’s second-round NIT matchup at No. 1 Saint Mary’s.

The Huskies (21-12) play the Gaels (29-5) 8 p.m. Monday at McKeon Pavilion.

Here’s a look at Friday’s interview with quotes.


(On Saint Mary’s)

“That they won a lot of games. (laughs) I’ve known…Coach (Cameron) Dollar has worked with Randy Bennett and Coach Bennett, he had been with Coach (Lorenzo) Romar at Pepperdine and we had played them. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s built an incredible program. So much about them and Gonzaga going head-to-head and watching their games, very skilled. Great passers, great open shooters. Very disciplined, great team.”

(On Saint Mary’s home court advantage)

“Being at home definitely makes an impact. You’re on your home court, you’re on your home turf, it does make an impact. Going out to play there, it’s a smaller place but the students will be back. That’s why I’m sure they wanted it on Monday rather than on Saturday or Sunday. It will be rowdy and a great college basketball environment. I’ve seen it on TV. I saw one of the championship games. I’ve probably seen two or three of their games on television, so it looks like a great place to play.”

(On message to team before a road game) “At the end of the day we’ve played in some pretty tough places. Kansas being one. A big word that we’ve been using is just poise. You’re going to play against really good teams, championship programs just like Boise (State) that we just played. They are going to go on runs even if you have a lead or not. You’ve just got to play them in four and five-minute segments. Just be able to go out and execute and do what we do. We don’t have to do anything tricky, we’ve just got to play exceptionally hard. We’ve got to execute our game and play together. When we do that we’re a different team and we’ve proven to beat anybody. It goes back to when we don’t execute or we don’t make the extra pass or we don’t shoot a good percentage or those types of things is when we lose. So the message is – great opponent, great opportunity, be a nationally-televised game, be a lot of guys watching, especially no NCAA Tournament games that day. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

(On Saint Mary’s defeat to Washington State) “They did a good job taking guy on one-on-one and it wasn’t necessarily they were sitting there at the three-point line, but you have to remember, that was earlier in the year. Teams evolve, teams get better. It also goes back to matchups. How are they going to attack our zone? What are our adjustments we can make? And on the flip side, how can we score against them? But there were some things. I thought Washington State did a great job attacking them off the bounce and forced them to defend one-on-one. Washington State’s got multiple guys who can take you off the bounce.”

(On philosophy on recruiting overseason) “New Zealand! Sammy! New Zealand. Overseas there’s a lot of great players. A guy I coached at Syracuse the name of David Patrick for one year, I coached him as a guard – David was one of their first hires. He was their connection to Australia for many years. Now he’s at TCU, or he was at TCU and just got the job at UC-Riverside. Tapped into it, it’s worked for them. Dellavedova, Patty Mills… the world of basketball is growing and they’ve done a great job building relationships to where they can get whoever they want from that area. Credit to him, he found a way to get it going at St. Mary’s and went international and then mixed it in with a little local and they’ve got one of the most skilled, best offensive efficiency teams in the country. I think they are number one.”

(On Saint Mary’s Jock Landale) “He’s just unbelievable in the post. When you’ve got a guy with that size, it’s like our Noah with great footwork. He’s so skilled, not only if you double him he just picks you apart. And when they have those great shooters around there, they can all pass, dribble and shoot – he’s just a problem. You’re talking about a guy that averages over 20 points a game, he’s 20 and 10 and they’ve played some high-quality programs and they beat the Zags. Different teams scheme them differently – zone, press, pressure – so they’ve faced everything. And I think the biggest thing is like with Boise (State), they have a championship fabric. It’s who they are and they know how to win. It will be a great opportunity for us to see our growth. We’ve played them twice in exhibition games before this year, the last two years.”

(On if Saint Mary’s will double team Dickerson) “I think they have. A lot of times people will double because they don’t want to get in foul trouble. Landale, I’m sure they don’t want him to get in foul trouble. But probably test the waters, see how it is early. If he’s going well or if he’s a problem like he was against Boise State, they’ll start running and doubling him. It’s like Boise, they started playing a 1-3-1 and they haven’t shown it all year. Teams will have different schemes to maybe show, to prevent certain things. It goes back to how we prepare. If they are doing this against our zone these are the adjustments we can make based on how they are attacking it.”

(On NIT rule changes) “At the end the wider lane, they tried to miss the foul shot at the end. Obviously the different things of where they tried to strategize to use it. They went to the foul line, and you can’t lose the foul line game – especially against a team like St. Mary’s because they shoot so well. You don’t want to give them extra points with layups and foul shots. You’ve got to take them off the three-point line. We weren’t able to execute our 2-for-1 that well. Little things that I think we can get better at in that case. Some things even to get extra possessions like we can be a little bit creative defensively to speed them up a little bit.”

(On playing in the postseason) “It’s such an honor to play. At first I didn’t know how they would respond. I thought in our game they played exceptionally hard with a lot of energy. I felt like they fought. That’s an important thing and these guys have accomplished a lot and are still playing. Not a lot of teams are playing in March. To be able to play against some of these top teams and how we can get better – 99 percent of our team will be coming back next year – it’s a great opportunity to keep growing and seeing where we can go. When we talked to the team and David (Crisp) and Matisse (Thybulle) it was like – if we’re going to play in this, let’s go win it. Let’s go get better, let’s have an opportunity to play some of these great teams. Boise is a great team, St. Mary’s is another great team. We’ll see where we’re at.”

(On Pac-12) “I just think at the end of the day, the key in this whole thing is to get as many teams into the NCAA tournament as possible and you get to get great seeds. There’s a lot of different conferences that had four teams in the tournament. Just playing yesterday, I think nine overall and only one of them won and three of them lost. And one was sixth seed, an eighth seed and a ninth seed. We had two 11(-seed) play-in games and four-seed, which Buffalo just had a great thing. That’s what makes March Madness. There’s upsets. Two years ago when we went to the Final Four, Middle Tennessee State we watched beat Michigan State. That happens in this game. At Syracuse, we lost to Vermont. That was a 15-2. Richmond, when I played, that was a 15-2. That’s what makes the NCAA tournament so great. I think people are pretty hard on the Pac-12. I think we have a really good conference. It goes back to matchups. The more teams that we can get in there at higher seed, the better opportunities we’ll have to advance. But for them to say they’ve lost all their games, well we had two 11 play-in games and a lot of those teams are playing like … If I was a mid-major team team in that thing and I get to play against UCLA, you’d think both would play for a Super Bowl. But it’s Villanova versus Georgetown in the Finals with Patrick Ewing. You play a perfect game. You hit 15 threes. Against Arizona. That’s what makes this tournament great, right? So I don’t think it’s really, people are saying it’s a knock on the conference. Obviously, we wish we had it better. But a couple of our seeds weren’t great. We played against a couple of really great teams. That’s what happens in March. I’m sure there will be more upsets. Wichita State loss today.”

(On lingering effect on Pac-12) “I don’t know. I think people just like to see when something is down or they don’t have success, I think people like to prey on it. At the end of the day, we know in our league there’s a lot of teams that had great recruiting classes. We have great coaches. They had great success last year in the NCAA tournament. Just moving forward we got to keep getting better. Try to do the best job as getting as many teams like I said higher seeds. If you can do that, if you can accomplish that you’ll have a better chance. It’s the odds. Because we got good teams. We got good teams that can win games in that tournament.”