The Huskies are getting good shots says coach Mike Hopkins, but not knocking them down. They will try to improve on a 4-2 record Tuesday against Eastern Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The 4-2 records are identical, but the Huskies – particularly their offense – aren’t clicking like they were last year this early in the season.
Mike Hopkins and his Washington men’s basketball team coaching staff spent their post-Thanksgiving break poring over videotape trying to figure out why UW’s scoring is down nearly 10 points.
A year ago, the Huskies averaged 80 points through six games.
This season, the scoring has dipped to 70.7 points.
So what’s wrong?
Hopkins acknowledged Washington is playing a tougher schedule, which included just two home games, a tough matchup on the road against a ranked opponent and three contests last week in Vancouver, B.C.
Last year, the Huskies won four of their first six games at UW against mid-major competition.
Their most lopsided win was a 79-69 victory over Eastern Washington, which returns to Alaska Airlines Arena for a 6 p.m. Tuesday rematch.
Hopkins also admitted the Huskies are simply missing shots that they should make.
“Sometimes you have bad shooting lulls, but the quality of an offense is the quality of the (shots) that you’re getting,” he said. “I felt like we had some really good opportunities, but we just couldn’t knock any down.
“Is that fatigue? I don’t know. But we’re shooting a lot more (in practice).”
Washington ranks 266th nationally among 351 teams in scoring. The Huskies’ 29.5 percent shooting on three-pointers is 300th in the country, and their 10.3 assists per game are tied for 319th.
“We got to make some shots,” Hopkins said. “I felt like in the games we got some really good looks, but the ball just wasn’t going (in). Usually you evaluate offense are you getting good shots? Are the right guys getting good shots?
“How many better shots can we get? Who do we need production from?”
Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell and senior forward Noah Dickerson are playing at an all-conference level while averaging 19.8 and 18.2 points, respectively.
Together they average 38 points and account for 54 percent of the scoring while shooting 56.4 percent.
The rest of the Huskies average 32.7 points and shoot 33.9 percent.
“Not everybody is going to play their best game on every night,” Nowell said. “We know that. And when guys don’t have their best night, other guys have to step up.
“Right now, Noah is playing well. … But it could be anybody.”
Hopkins tweaked the lineup and started sophomore forward Hameir Wright in place of junior forward Sam Timmins, who has been ineffective while averaging just 1.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 9.3 minutes.
Wright, who averages 3.7 points and 4.2 rebounds, will likely remain in the lineup against Eastern Washington (1-3) because he’s a perimeter threat who allows Dickerson more room to operate inside.
“If you can get (Dickerson) deep in the post he’s a pretty unstoppable guy down there,” Hopkins said. “Sometimes it can get stagnant with ball movement and the rhythm of the game, but … in the big games last year when the other guys made shots we were successful.”
Hopkins also expects senior guards David Crisp, Matisse Thybulle and Dominic Green will bounce back from slow starts in which they’re averaging fewer points than they had in the previous two seasons.
“We’re going to run more stuff trying to get Dominic some shots,” he said. “We need to get more from Matisse. Matisse is a guy who consistently can get between 10-15 points. He’s been working his (tail) off in the gym.
“I know we’re going to be fine, because I know they’re really good shooters and they’re really good players.”
— Washington is No. 58 in the first ranking of the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET), the NCAA’s new metric that replaces the RPI and debuted Monday. The rankings will be updated daily.
By comparison, UW ranks No. 50 in the RPI and No. 48 in Kenpom ratings.
The NET, which is intended to be a grouping tool to determine the quality of an opponent, is not the final measurement used by the NCAA selection committee.
It’s meant to evaluate teams using a number of results-oriented factors, including caliber of opponents, game locations, team efficiency, win percentage, adjusted win percentage and scoring margin (up to 10 points per game).