Mike Hopkins and his players, as a show of respect, answered the necessary questions about Washington’s 86-73 win over Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
They talked about how the Mavericks (1-8) made life difficult for the Huskies (6-2) until a few changes were made. UW, which has a four-game winning streak, played with more energy. That’s why UNO only shot 40 percent in the second half. From Hopkins to junior point guard David Crisp, everyone emphasized how the Mavericks didn’t scare easy given they’ve played against teams like Louisville this season.
OK. Great. Enough about UNO. What about No. 2 Kansas?
“Very few times in life you have opportunities to play a team of the caliber of a Kansas,” Hopkins said of UW’s next opponent. “They’re No. 2 in the country and that’s why you come to these big schools and have these opportunities. I think the guys will be excited.”
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Wednesday will provide the Huskies with their biggest challenge of the year when the face off against the No. 2 Jayhawks (6-0) at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
Kansas has shown glimpses of its massive potential in only a handful of games this season.
The Jayhawks opened with a win over then-No. 7 Kentucky and recently picked up a 76-60 win over Syracuse.
Could it be a preview of what’s to come? After all, Hopkins is a former Syracuse assistant who has brought quite a few of ’Cuse’s principles to Montlake.
“At the end of the day, we have certain things and different personnel than they do,” Hopkins said. “I think it helps we get to watch it, we get to see it and excited about it.”
For UW, there is a tight turnaround even though the game is not until Wednesday.
The team is practicing at 8 a.m. on Monday, leaving campus at 11 a.m. and catching a 1 p.m. flight to Kansas City.
“I’ve watched a couple games of theirs this year,” Crisp said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Crisp, a Tacoma native, finished with a game-high 24 points on Sunday. He provided some insight into his performance but the more pressing issue was UW’s expedition on the road.
The Huskies can win at home and have won six in a row this season at The Triple A. Getting victories on the road, however, is a hurdle they’ve yet to climb.
UW’s first trip was to Madison Square Garden where it played two games in the 2K Classic. Technically, the games against Providence and Virginia Tech were at a neutral site
Whether it was Crisp or junior forward Matisse Thybulle, who had 12 points and five blocks, everyone came away with something after the trip back East.
“We got battle tested when we went to New York and played those two really good teams,” Thybulle said. “I think that we proved to ourselves ... we can hang with just about anybody. Knowing that, we’re just taking all that confidence and we’re going to roll with it the rest of the season.
“We’re not looking at anything past the game we have ahead of us.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark