Firstly, we can all agree that Mike Hopkins has done a tremendous job in turning around the Huskies since Lorenzo Lamar was canned as Head Coach at the end of the 2016-17 season, or at least we SHOULD be able to admit that. He took a team with very little recognizable talent and had only won 2 games in PAC 12 play in 2016, and ended up making it to the second round of the NIT, going 21-13 in his first season as the Huskies Head Coach. He also won games against Kansas and Boise State. So there is no denying that the Huskies are a good team and Coach Hopkins has done a remarkable job at UW.
HOWEVER! Can we (As in the basketball media) pump the brakes on the Huskies bandwagon just a bit? Yes they are a good team and they are returning Senior Noah Dickerson, a 6’8” forward who had been thinking about going pro, as well as Matisse Thybulle, a senior guard and reigning PAC 12 Defensive Player of the Year. However, while these players are very good, the Huskies don’t have a mind-blowing class of incoming freshman to warrant these raised expectations.
While the Huskies have a good back-court, one of their biggest weaknesses was a lack of a point guard, something the Beavers are very familiar with. The Huskies ended up relying on Senior guard David Crisp for play-making responsibilities, and while it was workable, it wasn’t ideal. And this showed in both PAC 12 play and in the NIT. The Huskies went 10-8 in conference play, only good enough for 7th in the PAC 12. While the Huskies do feature some interesting front-court pieces, the Huskies didn’t accomplish their goal of finding a true point guard to run the offense, and unless David Crisp or freshman Elijah Hardy can step up, this team is going to look almost identical to last years. And while the team UW has assembled is a good team, “good” is often the equivalent to “mediocre” in the PAC 12. While Washington may be an improved team and surprise some people, their media projections of 2nd-3rd in the conference is just a step too far.
Player To Watch
Noah Dickerson (Sr. Forward)
No real surprise here. A 6’8” forward whom many thought to be NBA-bound decided to return for his senior year at Washington. This is obviously a boost for the Huskies, as the senior contributed 15.5 PPG on 56.9% shooting and 8.4 Rebounds per game. Despite only being 6’8”, Dickerson prefers to play near and above the rim. Despite having shown flashes of his ball-handling ability and potential 3-point shooting, he has failed to use these skills, whether by preference or coaching scheme is unknown. However, this inability to play as a “Stretch 5” has hurt his NBA stock, as the Association seems to be moving towards more “Pick-and-Roll” and “Pick-and-Pop” action for it’s big men as opposed to post-ups. It will be interesting to see whether or not Dickerson attempts to develop a mid-range game or even become a 3-point threat, as it may be necessary for his NBA aspirations.
3 Key Non-Conference Games
- 11-9-2018 — At #11 Auburn
- 12-5-2018 — At Gonzaga
- 1-1-2019 — vs. Cal State Fullerton