America is intimately familiar with Syracuse games in the NCAA Tournament. Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone drives opponents crazy. The Washington Huskies and coach Mike Hopkins have taken the 2-3 from Syracuse and made it their own devastating weapon. Many people will therefore expect a rock fight when the Huskies face the Utah State Aggies in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Washington will have to bring enough offense to get the job done. Hopkins spoke about this topic in advance of this 8-9 game in the Midwest Region.
“I think we’ve been a little inconsistent but we’ve had great signs of making shots in multiple games and we will,” Hopkins said Tuesday. “We have to share it. We have to move the ball. The more the ball moves, the better shots we’re going to get, the better rhythm we’re going to have.”
“Regardless of how your offense is rolling, the thing that is going to make us different in this tournament, and any tournament, and has made us different all year, is our defense,” Hopkins said. “If you stay focused on that and don’t let missing shots affect that, we can be in every game. Now, make shots and do that, we can beat anybody.”
One point worth noting about Washington:
Oregon — who beat Washington to make the NCAA Tournament this past Saturday (and would NOT have made the tournament had it failed to beat U-Dub) — is the ONLY NCAA Tournament team Washington has defeated, and yet even then, Washington went 1-2 in three games against the Ducks. National observers are wondering if the poor caliber of competition in the Pac-12 will leave Washington underequipped against a Utah State team which won the Mountain West title (shared with Nevada) and captured the MWC Tournament.
If Washington’s offense struggled in the last few weeks of Pac-12 play, it could misfire just as much if not more against Utah State.
The Washington Huskies could flummox the Aggies with their imported Hopkins zone defense, but they will have to cobble together at least some offense.
Prepare for a rock fight. That’s not advice to TV viewers so much as the Huskies themselves. They might have to win this game 50-48… but they just as certainly don’t want to think that they will have to play virtually perfect defense to win.
Washington’s ability to play a complete game at both ends of the floor — which has generally been lacking in recent weeks — will probably need to come to the surface.
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