TOP OF THE TOWN – So Washington plays at UCLA today (Feb. 15) in men’s basketball and most likely there won’t be a lot of people watching the game set for 7 p.m. on ESPN 2. That’s because this Husky season has been one of the most disappointing in recent memory. The preseason hype had this team being considered as a Pac-12 contender because it was loaded with superb talent, including two possible first-round picks in the next NBA draft – 6-9 Jaden McDaniels and 6-9 Isaiah Stewart. But nothing prepared the so-called experts for this ugly season for the Huskies, now on a 7-game losing streak, 12-13 overall and 2-10 and securely at the bottom of the conference standings. What happened? I’m beginning to think that Mike “Hop” Hopkins happened. Hope was named back-to-back conference coach of the year in his first two seasons as Husky coach, but somehow has fallen off the rails this season. He doesn’t seem to make in-game adjustments to change situations and for all the credit he gets for being a positive force, he sure seems to be sad-faced and angry during games. Maybe he has reason to be, considering the results he’s getting from his team, but I learned a long, long time ago you get better results from positive feedback even in dire situations. Encouragement works well and telling your players to play through mistakes works even better. Don’t let a player hang his head. We all make mistakes so just keep going.  Bottom line for me, though, and if you have read me before you already know this, but, dang it Hop, abandon that zone as your primary defense. You don’t have Matisse Thybulle with his extraordinary wing span and instincts to create havoc in that zone anymore so get over it. I’m a firm believer that you adjust your defense (and offense) to the players you have and do not enforce your defensive stubbornness on your players. The Huskies are extraordinary in their length and quickness, so why would you not play man-to-man defense to take advantage of those physical skills? And it’s way overdue for Hop to change up the offense to free Stewart, who is double and triple teamed every game now, making it difficult for him to get open for a pass and to shoot the ball when he does get it. There is a critical need to adjust here. Go to a double-low post or a high-low setup, or even bring the big guy out of the paint to allow your quick players to penetrate for layins or to dribble and kick back for wide-open shots on the perimeter You can also go to half-court man press, but just do something other than that darn zone. I’m not adverse to zones. I believe you need to change things up as the game goes along, switching defenses as needed, sometimes just to change the tempo. But do it. Play man. That’s it for today. Watch the game and you will see that nothing will have changed. The Huskies will play zone and likely get beat once again.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.