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UW basketball off to a historically bad start

The Husky basketball program seems to be in a deep hole that will be difficult to get out of. What needs to be done to help turn around this program?

After losing two players to the NBA draft, one to suspension and bringing in two transfers, everyone knew that it was going to take some time for this Husky basketball team to get on a roll and build some chemistry. However, now almost two months into the season, most did not anticipate what has unfolded thus far.

At the time of writing this article, the Huskies currently sit in last place in the Pac-12 with a record of 1-11, including being winless in conference play. They are on pace for putting together the worst season in program history with one of their biggest issues stemming from their lack of competitiveness resulting in losing by 10 or more points in seven games. 

The Huskies still have 10 games left to start building momentum heading into next season. Unfortunately, there are only a few winnable games left, making it all but settled that they will finish in last place in the conference. If this ends up being the case, then this program could see a complete overhaul with players and coaches leaving.

Head coach Mike Hopkins’ days at UW may be numbered as it is hard to argue against letting him go with how far this team has fallen. Hopkins is one of the nicest and most respected people you could meet and while it pains me to say that the team needs to go in another direction, it’s apparent that they do. 

Hopkins is a two time Pac-12 coach of the year, winning it in back to back seasons in his first two years in Seattle, including leading UW to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 2019 since 2011. However, this was with players he inherited from Lorenzo Romar’s tenure and what is concerning now is the lack of development and progress from Hopkins’s first few recruiting classes. 

Players like Jamal Bey and Hamier Wright, despite showing flashes of hope once in a while, never developed into the players they were supposed to be and have, up to this point, been disappointments. This required Hopkins to go to the transfer portal and bring players in from other schools where it did not work out for them. This includes Quade Green, Erik Stevensen, Cole Bajema and Nate Pryor. 

Quade Green has done everything he can to carry the horrendous Husky offense averaging just over 15 points per game. But, this was not supposed to be Green’s role. He should be the one dishing assists to other players but no one else has stepped up as a scorer. It was originally thought that Stevensen, as well as Bey, would be the ones to step up but this has yet to occur. 

The offensive game plan has seemed bland all year and I have not seen very many adjustments. It gets to the point where it is so sloppy and unorganized that it is hard to watch.

But the Huskies under Hopkins have always been known for the dreaded 2-3 zone so the defense should be able to cover the offensive struggles right? Wrong. 

Teams continue to tear up the zone and are scoring an average of 76 points per game against the Huskies. Even with the defensive struggles, the coaching staff is adamant about sticking to the zone and refusing to switch to the traditional man defense. We simply do not have the players to run the zone effectively as teams are continuously obtaining high percentage shots in almost every possession. 

What could save Hopkins’s job for at least one more year is his most recent contract extension that has him signed through 2025, and would include a buyout of whatever remains on his contract, and after this season it would sit at $12.2 million. In the current economic climate, it’s hard to see this happening but there might not be any other choice if there is so sign of improvement. But due to COVID, Hopkins may get one more year to prove himself. 

The bright side is that this season will not count against any players eligibility and they all have the chance to return next year. Hopefully, this year was a gigantic learning curve for the inexperienced players and we see a massive jump next season.