The Washington Huskies Men’s Basketball Team enters the 2019-2020 season with a lot of hype and expectations following last year.
Recently, the Huskies were picked to finish third in the Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll, as there are a lot of new faces in the mix this year.
After making it back to the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the round of 32 last season, the sky is the limit for the Huskies this season.
Over the summer, the Huskies traveled to Italy for a four-game tour where they went undefeated, winning each game by a 44-point average.
We take a look at the entire team; which players will make an impact and which ones departed after last year’s successful season.
QUIN BARNARD (Redshirt Junior, 6 foot 0 inches, 175 pounds)
RAEQUAN BATTLE (Freshman, 6 foot 5 inches, 185 pounds)
JAMAL BEY (Sophomore, 6 foot 6 inches, 210 pounds)
J’RAAN BROOKS (Sophomore, 6 foot 9 inches, 220 pounds)
NAHZIAH CARTER (Junior, 6 foot 6 inches, 205 pounds)
JASON CRANDALL (Redshirt Junior, 6 foot 0 inches, 155 pounds)
JONAH GERON (Redshirt Freshman, 6 foot 5 inches, 175 pounds)
QUADE GREEN (Sophomore, 6 foot 0 inches, 170 pounds)
ELIJAH HARDY (Sophomore, 6 foot 2 inches, 170 pounds)
REAGAN LUNDEEN (Sophomore, 6 foot 6 inches, 230 pounds)
JADEN MCDANIELS (Freshman, 6 foot 9 inches, 200 pounds)
NOAH NEUBAUER (Redshirt Freshman, 6 foot 3 inches, 185 pounds)
BRYAN PENN-JOHNSON (Redshirt Freshman, 7 foot 0 inches, 245 pounds)
TRAVIS RICE (Redshirt Junior, 6 foot 2 inches, 185 pounds)
NATE ROBERTS (Redshirt Freshman, 6 foot 10 inches, 245 pounds)
RILEY SORN (Redshirt Freshman, 7 foot 4 inches, 270 pounds)
ISAIAH STEWART (Freshman, 6 foot 9 inches, 250 pounds)
SAM TIMMINS (Senior, 6 foot 11 inches, 265 pounds)
MARCUS TSOHONIS (Freshman, 6 foot 3 inches, 185 pounds)
HAMEIR WRIGHT (Junior, 6 foot 9 inches, 220 pounds)
The Huskies enter the season in year three of the Mike Hopkins era with a lot hype and expectations this season. A big reason for that perception is because last season, the Huskies finally broke through and ended their drought of not making the NCAA Tournament. Not only did they make “The Dance”, but they won their first round matchup against Utah State. While they would lose to the North Carolina Tar Heels the following game, making it to the round of 32 was quite an accomplishment for a program that was still trying to establish itself.
Washington head coach Mike Hopkins has won back-to-back Pac-12 Coach Of The Year Honors for his coaching acumen and ability to get players to buy into his system. He has spent his first two seasons establishing and building the foundation and platform for his program. Hopkins wants a consistent and self-sustaining program that will last for years, and not something that is a “one-hit wonder,” as he mentioned recently.
Some important players that helped him build the Husky basketball program into something respectable are no longer on the team. Players like David Crisp, Noah Dickerson, Dominic Green, Jaylen Nowell and Matisse Thybulle have all departed, and Hopkins will forever be grateful to those guys as the “pillars” that helped with the transition of bringing his system to Washington.
Leadership this season will have to come from some of the other players that are returning and have experience in Hopkins system. Three players that come to mind are Nahziah Carter, Hameir Wright and Sam Timmins. It seemed like just the other day, Carter and Timmins were freshmen trying to find their way, and now Hopkins will be counting on them to help lead the team. Timmins is now a senior and can help some of the young and talented big men on the roster with their transition into Hopkins program and what he expects.
Recently, the Huskies were picked to finish third in the Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll, finishing behind Oregon and UCLA, and just ahead of Arizona. The reason for that placement is because everyone knows how talented and promising the Husky roster is this season, but it in reality it is unproven. The Huskies have two future NBA Draft Lottery picks in Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, but by all projections, they appear to be on the “one-and-done” model. It doesn’t happen very often where a program gets these types of players together in the same season and Hopkins must take full advantage of it. On paper, this roster has the potential to be one of the most talented teams Washington has had in several years, but the game is played on the court.
Getting this year’s team to “buy-in” and “gel” together is what will determine the success of the season for Hopkins and his staff. With the amount of talent and the possibility that he may only have this roster for a season, Hopkins has to make it work. This will be a humongous opportunity for Hopkins to achieve some special things with a roster so promising.
This season won’t come without its challenges and potential pitfalls for Hopkins and his coaching staff. When trying to blend all of this talent together, there is the stark reality that it may never actually come together. Will everyone “buy in” with Hopkins message, and most importantly, will all the players accept their “roles” and be willing to “sacrifice” for the team. Will the “one-and-done” players fully embrace the “Washington Huskies” way and be “all-in,” or will this season just be used as a springboard to further themselves to the next level? That is always a major question for any program when going down this road. Will Hopkins style of play fully fit and mesh with the newcomers on the team, and will they be excited to play that style of ball? Former Huskies Spencer Hawes and Tony Wroten Jr. come to mind here.
What will happen when the Huskies hit their first stretch of adversity as a team this season? Remember…they annihilated everyone in their path during their “Italy Tour,” but now they will be facing much stiffer competition. Who will step up and be the leader when challenges call for someone to step up and lead the way? All of these questions will have to be addressed this season. If Hopkins’ first two seasons are any indication of what’s to come, then this season looks to be the most successful yet under his watch.
There hasn’t been this much excitement over a Husky basketball season in quite sometime! The talent and potential on this roster is “sky high” and coupled with a good coach – the possibilities are limitless. This team seems to be well balanced offensively and defensively, as the Husky coaching staff has done their job on the recruiting trail. There is definitely length, quickness and athleticism all over the roster, which will give Hopkins the versatility he needs to play his style of basketball.
While some of the unanswered questions won’t be solved until they actually play some games, the Huskies will need to get some emergence in certain areas. A “dead-eye” knock it down shooter will have to emerge this season for the Huskies. Having a bunch of guys with shooting ability is always great, but in crucial situations you need a guy that can just flat out “drain it” and put fear into opposing defenses. Without this, the Huskies won’t be able to “space the floor” and open up the driving and passing lanes for an efficient offense. Finding that “spark plug” type of a player off the bench will be vital as well. In years past, Hopkins had to try and find that “guy” by committee, and the inconsistency actually cost them some victories. The Huskies will need an instant offense guy or a defensive “show stopper” that can make an immediate impact anytime Hopkins needs them to enter the game.
The obvious loss and impact of the departed Matisse Thybulle will play an impact on the defensive end of the floor. While Matisse was a special talent that may never be duplicated again, he brought a certain “intensity” and attitude” to the defensive side of the ball and everyone followed his lead. Will a defensive “specialist” emerge on this year’s team, which will make the Huskies get after it on a nightly basis? The ability to shut down other teams with Hopkins 2-3 zone has been a major part of his success so far on Montlake. It gives the Huskies the ability to pretty much stay in any game they play and have a chance to win!
The Huskies have a lot of athleticism and players on the roster that can thrive in an uptempo brand of basketball. Their ability to be able to slow the ball down and operate in a half-court set, especially at the end of the game will be important. They have a bunch of options on offense this season, but who will emerge as the “go-to-guy” to take the last shot when the game is on the line? Only time will tell, and make no mistake, Hopkins and his staff have already analyzed and assessed these unknowns as well.
In looking at the season, the Huskies have a huge opportunity to do something special this season, with the roster that they have assembled. The potential “star power” is undeniably there and Hopkins knows that he can’t afford to waste the talent on this roster this season. Look for the Huskies to make a strong push for the Pac-12 Title and also make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Maybe a “Sweet 16” run, and if they get the right bracket – the potential for something even bigger is there. Hopkins and his staff have done a tremendous job of building this program and making it attractive for everyone involved. There isn’t a more exciting time to be following the Husky basketball team right now, and the Huskies are in great shape with Hopkins at the helm!
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