The Washington Huskies Men’s Basketball team officially has a few games under its belt now and the season looks quite promising.
There is a lot of young talent on the Huskies roster, and the coaches are still learning how to use it and find the right chemistry.
Last weekend, the Huskies put the rest of the nation on notice with their 67-64 upset victory over the #16 ranked Baylor Bears.
Earlier this week, the Huskies were rewarded for their efforts with jumping into the top 25 for the first time, at the #20 spot.
Yesterday evening, in front of the home crowd, the Huskies struggled all game, but held off Mount St. Mary’s for a 56-46 victory.
While the Huskies have a talented roster on display, they will surely have to play better than they did last night in the coming weeks ahead.
“We’re a little bit anxious, you can see it. Some of the turnovers we’re just going to fast,” Washington head coach Mike Hopkins said.
The Huskies will have to find a way to slow things down, where they can execute at a high level for all 40-minutes of the game.
Here are some observations that have stood out after the Huskies’ first few games of the season…..
The Huskies Will Have To Start Faster
The last couple of games in particular, the Huskies have gotten off to slow starts and have had to claw their way back into the game. While the Huskies certainly have the talent to fight their way back into games, with that same talent they should be starting faster. During the Baylor game, the Huskies had to close with a 21-5 run to finish out the game. Slow starts can be common themes for young teams, but finding a way to get going “out of the gate” will be crucial going forward. Once competition becomes stiffer, coming from behind victories will be few and far between. Setting the tone early and starting the game with a massive run will cause the Huskies to settle into the game much quicker and execute at a higher level. Coming out of the locker room with energy is important!
Hameir Wright Has Improved Offensively
During his career on Montlake, junior forward Hameir Wright has always been known as a defensive minded role player, with the ability to rebound the basketball. What is clearly evident so far this season, is the aggressiveness that Wright is playing with on the offensive side of the floor. In years past, Wright had struggled with finding a consistent rhythm with his shot, but that is not the case this year. He is shooting the ball with a ton of confidence and Hopkins has given him the “green light” to take the open shot, especially behind the arc. He is currently 4 for 8 on three-point attempts and he is also driving the ball to the basket without hesitation. Coach Hopkins called Wright the “most important player on the team” last night during his postgame press conference.
Quade Green Is A Bit Rusty
With all the uncertainty of whether sophomore guard Quade Green‘s waiver request would be approved or not, the effect has shown so far. Green is a talented point guard and a former McDonald’s All-America transfer from the Kentucky Wildcats. In his first two games of the season, it appears that Green is a bit rusty and trying to find his groove with the Huskies. Green has averaged only 3.5 points, 6 assists and 3.5 rebounds and Hopkins will surely need his talented point guard to be more productive going forward. Hopkins said yesterday that Green is playing too anxious, which is a reason for his turnovers this season. Going forward, Green will need to be more aggressive and find ways to attack the basket. Playing without hesitation will come with playing more games.
Jaden McDaniels Needs To Be Freed Up
Make no mistake, true freshman forward Jaden McDaniels is ultra-talented and so far this season he has showed glimpses of that talent. Last night against Mount St. Mary’s, McDaniels had a tough game and it was difficult for him to score. Finding ways to get him the ball in the areas he like to operate in will be essential going forward. McDaniels is phenomenal in transition with his athleticism and length, but getting him easy buckets in the half-court offense will be a primary task for Hopkins. He likes to face the basket and break down defenders with the dribble and “pull up” game. Running certain “sets” to free up space for him to operate will certainly help. Pick and rolls, isolations and whatever it takes to give Jaden the advantage to do what he does best on the floor.
Isaiah Stewart Is A Force On “Both” Ends Of The Floor
Everyone knew how talented true freshman forward Isaiah Stewart was when Hopkins was able to gain his commitment. Stewart is a massive and powerful force in the paint, and plays with an fearless attitude. Finding a player that can play with their back to the basket isn’t always easy to find in “modern day” basketball. What has really stood out with Stewart so far is his ability to defend the paint and alter shots. Last night, Stewart was constantly blocking shots as he ended up with 6 total. His presence sends a message to opposing guards to not drive the paint because it will be met with resistance. With his defensive ability, Stewart will help the Huskies to squeeze teams out of the paint and force them to shoot from the outside. The kid is just a special talent – plain and simple!
Nahziah Carter Is Ready To Lead
When junior forward Nahziah Carter started his college career, you could see flashes of his potential, but he was inconsistent, trying to get used to the speed of the game at the collegiate level. Now, the “light bulb” has turned on and Carter is playing at a high level and is ready to “lead this team.” One aspect that really stands out is his improved jump shooting from the outside. He has really put in the time to hone in on his craft and become a consistent shooter, which has added versatility to his game. Defenders now have to play up on him to take his shot away and not just play off him to stop him from driving. Carter is currently leading the team with 18.5 points per game. When the Huskies need clutch baskets and momentum plays, Carter has stepped up as a leader!
The Huskies Need To Defend The “Three” Better
On defense, the young Huskies are still trying to get comfortable with how Hopkins wants his 2-3 zone to be played. A trend so far this season has been the Huskies inability to consistently defend the “three.” Just when the Huskies have gone on runs to break the game open, the other team has kept things close with knocking down some threes. Some of that could be a lack of focus and concentration after getting a lead, but the Husky defenders are also not rotating fast enough and “closing out” to the the shooters. They have been a step slow and that will need to improve going forward. Hopkins has put McDaniels at the top of the 2-3 zone to try and help defend the three better with his length. Playing better defense takes all five guys to be connected together and communicating.
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