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Washington basketball seeks offensive balance

The issue plaguing Washington’s offense seems simple. It’s not that the Huskies aren’t getting good looks. They are. But often — particularly during last week’s Vancouver Showcase — the shots just aren’t falling.

Make some shots.

It sounds simple. It’s just not that easy to fix.

“You just got to learn and grow from it,” head coach Mike Hopkins said ahead of UW’s Tuesday match-up with Eastern Washington. “Make sure you’re getting enough shots and keeping the kids’ confidence high because when you play a tough schedule, those things can happen.

“Understand that we are getting better and that’s the only way to grow. Stress a little bit, push it, bend it. Hopefully you grow from it and I think we will.”

The Huskies finished 2-1 in the Vancouver Showcase, defeating Santa Clara and Texas A&M before falling on a buzzer beater to Minnesota. They went through some tough shooting stretches in those three games.

UW’s most consistent performance came against Santa Clara when it shot 48 percent from the field, including 40 percent from the 3-point line. But the first half against Texas A&M was dismal. The Huskies shot 23.1 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.

The shooting woes continued in the opening half against the Gophers. UW shot 37.5 percent from the field and went 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. They bounced back to shoot 63.6 percent in the second half.

“There were six or seven shots in probably both games where I just felt like there were as good of looks as you were going to get,” Hopkins said. “You’ve got to knock down a couple of those. When you do it just changes the game.”

Perhaps the bigger concern is the lack of scoring production outside of sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell and senior forward Noah Dickerson. Nowell averaged 22.7 points in the Vancouver Showcase while Dickerson averaged 21 points and 9.7 rebounds.

No other player averaged double figures. Point guard David Crisp put up 8.0 points per game. Dominic Green scored 6.7 points per game, while Nahziah Carter put up 6.3. Green shot 43 percent from beyond the arc last season, but is shooting 33.3 percent on 21 attempts this year.

“It’s hard for (Green),” Hopkins said. “I remember in a couple of our games, they know how good of a shooter he is so they guard him. You can run some plays for him to try and get him some better looks but I think with Dom, he’s the guy who spaces the floor, he doesn’t turn the ball over. It’s hard for him to get looks.”

Hopkins said the Huskies need senior Matisse Thybulle to score between 10 and 15 points a game. He did that last season, averaging 11.1. But during the three-game stretch last week, he averaged just 3.6 points.

“The good thing is you know you’ve got really good players and they’re really good shooters,” Hopkins said. “Sometimes you go through that. You go through some highs and lows. The key is getting good shots.”

Dickerson and Nowell combined for 50 of UW’s 65 points against Minnesota. They also scored 43 of the Huskies’ 82 points against Santa Clara and 38 of their 71 points during the victory over Texas A&M.

On the season, only Nowell (19.8) and Dickerson (18.2) are averaging double figures. Last year, both Thybulle and Crisp (11.6) also averaged double figures.

“I always tell guys if you end up playing 40 games in a season, you’re going to have five or six games where the ball will just not fall in the hole,” Hopkins said, “and then you’re going to have five or six games when you’re making everything. And then you’re going to have the averages.

“It’s the mind of a shooter. It’s getting shots. It’s practicing. They’re really good players and I know they’ll come through.”

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