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Noah Dickerson expected to return to Washington’s starting lineup Sunday against Santa Barbara

Noah Dickerson is expected to return to the starting lineup when Washington (5-2) hosts UC Santa Barbara (6-1) at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Often times the tendency when you’re playing with a player as efficient and productive as Noah Dickerson is to get him the ball and watch him work.

It’s a bad habit that can short circuit the offense and create disharmony, Huskies coach Mike Hopkins admitted.

But it’s also a survival tactic that served the Washington men’s basketball team well last season when the All-Pac-12 forward carried UW to many of its 21 wins.

The trick for Hopkins and the Huskies is finding a balance between trying to deliver the ball to Dickerson in the post and moving the ball so others can get scoring opportunities.

In their last outing – an 83-59 victory over Eastern Washington on Tuesday – an illness forced Dickerson to sit out the first half.

With their big man on the bench, UW’s perimeter game came alive for the first time this season and the Huskies converted 8 of 16 three-pointers while shooting 52 percent from the field before halftime.

Dickerson, who played just 11 minutes in the second half and finished with seven points, is expected to return to the starting lineup when Washington (5-2) hosts UC Santa Barbara (6-1) at 5 p.m. Sunday.

“Noah looks good,” Hopkins said. “He had some really good days of practice and is ready to move forward. He’ll be playing.”

Hopkins hopes the Huskies can maintain the ball movement that worked so well against Eastern when UW tallied a season-high 14 assists on 28 field goals.

“It’s the combination of the ball needing to move free and having that offensive balance,” he said. “There’s always going to be games where you want to get it to him. Where you want to get it to him every time to be honest with you if they’re not going to double team. It allows you to get the other team in foul trouble.

“But there are some tendencies where the ball stops. … We’ll have our set plays, but we’ll also be doing more movement where everybody touches the ball. Just that unselfish play.”

That doesn’t mean Dickerson, who averages 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, still isn’t the first option in UW’s offense.

Before his latest bout of illness, he was coming off his best two-game stretch of the season when he scored 28 points against Minnesota and tallied 24 points and 17 rebounds versus Texas A&M.

Dickerson’s absence opened the door for senior guard Dominic Green, who made his first start and finished with seven three-pointers and 25 points – both career highs.

Expect Hopkins to create lineups that includes Dickerson and Green, who is averaging 7.9 points and shooting 45.2 percent behind the arc this season.

“Every game is different and sometimes you need a little bit more size,” Hopkins said. “Sometimes you need shooting. And sometimes it’s just that activity.

“Dom gives us a great energy on the defensive end. And when he’s open and shoots it, it’s usually good.”

Since Hopkins’ arrival last season, the Huskies are 11-1 when Green makes at least two three-pointers.

“He spaces the floor,” Hopkins said. “He opens it up for everybody better. He’s playing at a high level of confidence right now. And I’ll make sure I get him two threes.”

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