It may be Oregon week in football and I won’t blame you if that’s sucked up all of your attention. But today is Pac-12 media day for men’s basketball. Snuck up on you didn’t it?
We are officially less than 4 weeks away from the Huskies’ home opener against Western Kentucky. This season is shaping up to be one of the best that Washington has seen in the better part of a decade. Washington returns every major rotation piece from last season and adds on four talented freshmen to solidify the depth.
Media Day Schedule/How to Watch
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Larry Scott will kick off the day with his podium time at 10a but the TV broadcast will begin at 11a. Matisse Thybulle and Jaylen Nowell are the two players joining Coach Mike Hopkins at the Pac-12 headquarters for the event.
Media Poll Results- Huskies come in 3rd
Pac-12 Basketball Media Poll— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) October 11, 2018
1. Oregon (16) 288 points
2. UCLA (6) 264
3. Washington (2) 249
4. Arizona (1) 205
5. USC 203
6. Arizona State 165
7. Colorado 161
8. Utah 122
9. Stanford 109
10. Oregon State 102
11. Cal 45
12. Washington St 42
Washington comes in 3rd in the Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll. Most outlets have the Huskies as either 1st or 2nd in the conference so it comes as only a slight surprise. I’m not sure when the voting happened but I wonder if UCLA would still finish in 2nd with the recent news that 2 of their 4-star freshmen (PF Shareef O’Neal and PG Tyger Campbell) will both miss the upcoming season due to a heart condition and torn ACL respectively.
I released my computer projections yesterday and they follow pretty closely with the media poll. Near the top, Washington dropped from 1st to 3rd, USC dropped from 3rd to 5th, while UCLA and Arizona each moved up. And spots 7-10 in the media poll were the same as my projections although in a different order.
Not All Fun and Games...But Mostly
Larry Scott Takes the Podium
WATCH: Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day. https://t.co/RaLbOg0krw— Percy Allen (@percyallen) October 11, 2018
It wouldn’t be the Pac-12 if the majority of the time the commissioner spends on the podium is spent talking about a refereeing scandal in a different sport. And also not spent talking about a corruption scandal in the sport he’s supposed to be talking about. The Larry Scott era everyone.
New: Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announces changes in officiating protocol to @YahooSports after "mistake" of third party interference overruling a targeting call during a game. https://t.co/6vTHjeCxHA— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) October 11, 2018
Huskies at the Podium
Here are some of the notes from the Hopkins press conference.
- Coach Hopkins said he’s not content with where the Huskies were last year and cited finishing last in the league in both assists and rebounding which have to improve this year. But they picked up the defensive system faster than he thought they would.
- He doesn’t put much stock in preseason rankings noting that we were 10th in the league last year and obviously outperformed that ranking.
- Experience wins early so he’s happy to have such a veteran team coming back against a very difficult non-conference slate.
- Last year he thought they had a good non-conference slate with great wins but still weren’t in the conversation. So it was a concerted effort to upgrade that this season. It’ll be challenging but he thinks if you’re a good team you have to be able to win those games in road/neutral sites.
- Hopkins was asked about Markelle Fultz’s name being brought up in the FBI case. He says they’re aware of it and they’ll cooperate with any questions being asked but he hasn’t been involved with that process. He says this isn’t going to prevent him from recruiting 5 star talent and they try to build relationships and that some of the payment accusations are the case of sore losers citing it as the reason why they missed.
- Jaylen will be expected to do more ball handling this season and that between him and Elijah Hardy he feels more confident about the point guard play when Crisp is on the bench.
- Hopkins says there will be some growing pains with the young big men but he’ll put the best guys out there and if they earn playing time then they’ll play. Cited Bryan Penn-Johnson’s 7’7 wingspan as having the potential to make a major impact on defense.
- When asked about working on passing as a group and says the emphasis is on “one more” to make the extra pass and work on drills for finding the intentional open man and it just takes players getting used to it fast enough to do it in game and not just in practice.
- Hopkins agrees that it’s difficult to rebound out of a zone and that it has to be a mindset as soon as a shot goes up to get in position. Said it was difficult when they had Noah Dickerson playing the 5 at 6’8 to get some of the rebounds when you’re going up against 7 footers.
- Views Noah as a substantial weapon and credits the staff with helping to change Noah’s physique this off season. Thinks that it has improved his energy level and stamina. Doesn’t think it has necessarily changed his game but that when your leaders are that serious about making changes it helps improve the culture.
- Hopkins compared Matisse Thybulle to Spider Man and said he’s basically a superhero out there. There’s a mental aspect to playing against the zone and a player like him can completely throw off the opponent and make them overthink everything. He makes plays that make you say “is that real?” even by the coaching staff. They refer to him as Deion Sanders as well with his ability to get his hands on the ball. The perimeter version of Dikembe Mutombo.
Check back here for more updates throughout the day and/or follow me @UWDP_maxvroom