What was once a promising season for the Washington Huskies Men’s Basketball team has taken a drastic turn towards uncertainty.
The Huskies have dropped four out of their last five games and find themselves at a crossroads with how the season is going to turn out.
One of the biggest reasons for the current adversity stems around an issue that has haunted the Huskies since the start of the season.
Washington head coach Mike Hopkins has yet to find an offensive identity for his team, that can produce efficient scoring on a consistent basis.
True freshman forward Isaiah Stewart, who happens to be the best player on the team, has carried much of the load and burden all year.
He has done a tremendous job of masking the Huskies issues on offense, with is ability to take over a game inside the paint.
The last two games have been a challenge for Stewart to score the basketball and operate with the ease he has been accustomed to having.
Truth be told…this year’s version of the Huskies roster is flawed, and it is now apparent that Stewart won’t be able to bail them out every night.
Other players as a collective unit will have to consistently step-up and provide the type of production it will take to win tough games.
During the last two games, Stewart has averaged only 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, for a guy that has been a “double-double” machine.
While playing inferior opponents during the non-conference schedule, the Huskies were able to get away with their ailments on most nights.
Now that the Pac-12 Conference schedule is upon the Huskies, there has been significant game film for opposing coaches to dissect.
A glaring issue with the Huskies is their inability to shoot the ball from the outside, which has put a huge strain on the offense.
This roster just doesn’t have that “dead-eye” three-point shooter that instills fear into opposing defenses, where they have to come out and defend.
Without that, the Huskies are unable to stretch the floor and operate with the benefit of open driving lanes and passing lanes.
Just having the threat of an outside scorer would alleviate so many issues for the Huskies, but in reality they just don’t have that asset.
We are halfway into the season now and at this point, teams are who they are, which means the Huskies outside shooting won’t improve much.
During this recent road trip to the Bay Area for the Huskies, both Stanford and California packed the paint by double and triple-teaming Stewart.
Teams know that by forcing the ball out of Stewart’s hands, the Huskies don’t have the firepower to beat them from the outside.
The Huskies revealed some disheartening news this past week when sophomore point guard Quade Green was ruled academically ineligible for the entire winter quarter.
It is a huge blow to the Huskies to lose Green, and that fact couldn’t have been more evident during this recent two-game road trip.
Green is the “floor general” for the Huskies and has the ability to settle the team down on the floor and provide much needed leadership.
What is frustrating for the Huskies is that Green had just found the balance between running Hopkins offense, while being aggressive as a scorer himself.
At the beginning of the season, that balance was something Green had struggled to find, but recently he had mastered that craft.
He was averaging 11.6 points, 5.3 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game, while playing all 15 games this season for the Huskies.
One of the biggest threats he provided for the Huskies was his ability to shoot the three-point shot and score from the perimeter.
Without that at their disposal now, the Huskies three-point shooting prowess took a huge hit and now defenses are keying in on Stewart.
Green plays with a confidence, edge and swagger about him that rubs off on his teammates and his contagious on the floor.
He has that “IT” factor to him and the ability to get through to his teammates. The Huskies will need to find that swagger without him!
True freshman Jaden McDaniels has a ton of raw talent, but it hasn’t been polished and consistent enough yet to make a huge impact.
Now that Green is out of the mix, it is time for McDaniels to become more aggressive offensively and provide that much needed scoring.
He has a nice midrange game and can also shoot the “three” when he is dialed in. Stewart needs him now more than ever.
At last night’s postgame press conference, Hopkins stated that his team will have to get more help from the upperclassmen.
“We’re expecting all these freshman, but our (upperclassmen) have great opportunities. They got to play better. We want to win, they got to step up. Bottom line,” Hopkins said.
Former New York State Gatorade State Player of The Year, Hameir Wright, is only averaging 5.0 points per game, and it has affected the offense.
While Wright is an important role player on the team and his impact doesn’t always show on the stat sheet, his inability to score hurts the offense.
Opposing defenses are only having to defend four players out there because Wright has only been able to hit an occasional three-pointer.
Junior guard Nahziah Carter has taken a back seat this season to Stewart and McDaniels, but now has a golden opportunity to “step-up” and fill the void of Green scoring wise.
It will be paramount for one or both of those guys to make a much-needed impact for this team to be successful from here on out.
The back-to-back Pac-12 Coach of the Year has had some great success since he has taken over the Huskies Men’s Basketball program.
Right now, Hopkins is facing his first real adversity since becoming the head man, and it will fall on his shoulders to get the Huskies out of this funk.
The margin for error for the Huskies is razor thin right now, and the entire season right now is in serious danger of going sideways.
With all the preseason expectations and hype surrounding this program, the Huskies have used up all of their bad losses for the season.
They have to get their act together now and get things figured out in a hurry. The coaches will have to find a way to mitigate the loss of Green and still win big games.
Reality wise…this roster will only be here for one season, with a couple potential NBA Lottery picks headed to the NBA after just one season.
Hopkins knows that, and the “sense of urgency” to get it all working is now! Rosters with this much talent don’t always come along.
Some experts had the Huskies making a deep run into the NCAA Tournament this season and now those expectations have been deeply tempered.
Now the Huskies (11-6, 1-3) are focused on just making it into “The Dance” and not having to settle on a disappointing NIT Tournament berth.
At the end of the season, the Huskies want to be in “The Ballroom” of “The Dance” and not outside the door without a ticket in their hand!
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