Coach Hopkins recently went on a conference call with season ticket holders to answer their questions as we close in on 3 months until the start of the Husky Basketball season. If you’d like to listen to the entire transcript the link is below. But here are a few key takeaways from the hour long call.
1. Adjusted Mentalities for Matisse Thybulle and David Crisp
Matisse averaged only one trip to the foul line per game in conference play despite being an 84% free throw shooter. Hopkins viewed this as a huge missed opportunity for the team. He believes that Matisse can play much more aggressively driving to the basket and go to the line 4-5 times per game. He says that this adjustment can allow Matisse to go from the 10.8 points he averaged during conference play to 15.8 points just with a change in mindset. He noted that Matisse’s recent 60 point game during the Crawsover is evidence of Thybulle’s ability to do that when he puts his mind to it.
Hopkins thinks that David Crisp is just a fantastic open shooter and that when he has his feet set he has the potential to shoot over 40% from beyond the arc. However, Crisp shot just 30.5% in conference play from deep. Hopkins believes that comes down to poor shot selection. Crisp needs to play within the offense more and only take the 3-pointer when there is space for it and otherwise keep the ball moving. He thinks that Crisp can take a few less shots per game and hit one more 3-pointer. By doing this it will naturally increase his scoring from 12 to 15 points per game. Crisp’s decision making while passing is also a point of emphasis. Hopkins wants to see his assist to turnover ratio go from 1.3 to 2 which Crisp can do by being willing to hit the single on a regular basis rather than going for the home run.
2. Dictating the Tempo
One caller asked what singular thing Coach Hopkins wants this team to be known for and he replied a team that is able to dictate the terms of engagement. This was a problem for years under Coach Romar. UW often had players that could create mismatches for the opponent in certain situations. But Romar always adjusted our personnel to fit the opponent. If they went big then we went big, if they went small then we went small. It drove me crazy that we couldn’t instead find a way to capitalize on the strengths of our team and force the opponent out of what they wanted to do rather than play into their hands.
Hopkins said that the biggest strength that the elite teams have is the ability to take away what you want to do first and make you go to a plan B. He intends to use a heavy amount of zone but he won’t use it exclusively. There are several variations of the zone but he still wants to mix it in to target specific things. The biggest thing on defense for Coach Hopkins is to make the other team uncomfortable because that’s when they make mistakes.
3. More Info on the New Recruits
Hopkins was asked specifically about the pair of New York recruits, Nahz Carter and Hameir Wright, but there were some interesting nuggets all around. First, Hameir Wright is listed as 6’7 or 6’8 on just about every recruiting site but Hopkins said that he measured in at 6’9 and with a 7’1 wingspan. He will still need to put on muscle in order to truly play down low but with his length it appears that Wright will be able to give good minutes at the 4 and provide some much needed depth on the interior. It gives a little flexibility and makes the team less reliant on playing Devenir Duruisseau heavy minutes. Expect Wright to be the first big off the bench for Sam Timmins to allow for some 4 wings surrounding Noah Dickerson lineups that we almost never saw under Coach Romar. Wright also is long enough to potentially play the middle in the 2-3 zone and cover up some of Dickerson’s defensive deficiencies.
Coach Hopkins once again seemed extremely excited about the prospects of Michael Carter III. The most interesting thing is that he referred to Carter III as a point guard rather than a shooting guard. We’ll see whether he thinks Carter will actually play the point or merely that he has the ability to be more of a combo guard rather than a pure off ball shooting guard. That becomes more intriguing because for the second time this summer, Coach Hopkins did not mention Nate Pryor during the course of an interview. He was never asked about Pryor directly and until something official actually comes out about his eligibility I’m not going to assume something is wrong but it is slightly disconcerting. One of the new guards is going to have to play significant time as the backup point guard and Pryor was the clearest option.
Lastly, Hopkins told an interesting story about recruiting this year. He said there is currently a prospect from the Baltimore area (Nate Roberts anyone?) who says that Washington is one of his two favorite schools. Why? Partly because that’s where Markelle Fultz went. Even though it was a lost season last year and many people are jaded about Fultz coming in, losing, and leaving, he still had a real impact on some recruits. Especially those in the DMV area who looked up to Markelle. Getting the #1 pick has at least some cachet with recruits even if it came under the previous administration and didn’t result in wins.