The Washington Basketball team needed a flawless game to defeat the Kansas Jayhawks. That is just what Washington delivered on the road to knock off the undefeated number two team in the nation.
And so here we are. Happy now, naysayers? The Washington Basketball team performed admirably to defeat the Kansas Jayhawks. No, more than admirably, their performance was off the charts. There was a 3.2 percent chance of victory for the Washington Basketball team prior to the contest based on ESPN’s basketball power index (BPI). Funny how some things turn out.
As a matter of fact, the Kansas Jayhawks just trounced the Syracuse Orange. Making matters worse, the Washington Huskies run a derivative of their scheme. Two things aligned in the favor of the Washington Basketball team. On one hand, the Huskies had already endured defeat at the hands of Providence and Virginia Tech. On the other hand, the Washington coaching staff analyzed the defeat of Syracuse, and had time to adjust the game plan to face the Jayhawks.
In fact, In our pregame analysis, we cited a bevy of “must do’s” for the Washington Huskies to have a chance at success. They included:
Shooting accuracy of Jaylen Nowell (43.8 percent) and Noah Dickerson (38.5 percent).
Counter 7-foot-0 center Udoka Azubuike (10 pts 9 RBs 3 PFs) with 6-foot-11 Sam Timmins (8 pts 3 RBs 1 PF)
Manufacture a stingy defense – Washington held the Jayhawk perimeter shooting to an abysmal 25 percent.
Draw fouls – Washington was so effective at drawing fouls, Kansas altered their second half defense to avoid fouling out key players.
Take shots with clean looks – Huskies repelled the Jayhawks virtually all night. Matisse Thybulle hit an incredible 5 of 8 from the perimeter.
Team effort truly wins
The first eight games for the Washington Basketball team have been training the Huskies to play like a team. At times one player stepped up. Then another. But in the win over Kansas, this team needed everyone to step up. No player could afford to play a subpar game. In the end, the entire lineup played outstanding
Now that is not to say that the team crushed Kansas. This game was hotly contested until the final few minutes. Even then, the contest was so rivetting that I was spellbound. Gaze fixed on the television, I drew shallow breaths and dared not leave the room. Would I miss something? Would I affect Karma? The risks were too great.
Coach Mike Hopkins has done some impressive work so far on the recruiting front. And his coaching style, binding players together in “Tougher Together” mantra, was a catchy phrase which communicated exactly what he wanted wanted to tell his players. In the end, Coach Hopkins is not about a star player, but about a star team. How his players handled that message, accepted that principal, was as of yet an unanswered question.
So far, that mantra had not been put to the test. But facing the undefeated and second ranked Kansas Jayhawks, a team superior in every boxscore statistic, the players had to choose. Try to win on individual effort. Or, buy into the “schtick” and see what happens by trusting Coach Hopkins scheme. They trusted. They won.