Change can have its advantages and Noah Dickerson and Sam Timmins are proof.
A leaner, quicker Dickerson is one of Washington’s more dominant players on either end for first-year coach Mike Hopkins. Timmins’ increased production shows he’s more than just a 6-foot-11 center with length. Their development and progress is one of the reasons the Huskies (6-2) are on a four-game winning streak going into Wednesday’s contest against No. 2 Kansas (7-0) at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
“Coach is putting a lot of emphasis on (offense) and breaking down whether its our looks or getting the ball in to us ends up getting the ball back out for a better look at the end of the possession,” Timmins said. “We tend to usually get something good when we get touches inside. So just kind of putting emphasis on that and it’s been working for us.”
Dickerson and Timmins’ increased production gives UW balance on both ends.
Hopkins had assurances from his guards. Juniors David Crisp and Matisse Thybulle were proven scorers capable of playing heavy minutes. The same goes for freshman guard Jaylen Nowell, who leads the Huskies with 33.1 minutes per game and 18.4 points.
Finding consistency with Dickerson and Timmins was a priority for UW.
“I feel like now, just from practice to playing all these games together, we all know what to do with each other,” Dickerson said. “It’s to put ourselves in the best position to do something well.”
Last season, Dickerson had moments when consistency was an issue. He had seven games shooting less than 40 percent from the field but still managed to average 12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Dickerson’s lowest percentage this season through eight games came when converted 50 percent of his shots on 6 of 10 shooting for 19 points against Providence.
It’s one reason why he’s UW’s second-leading scorer with 16.4 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds.
“Noah, he’s an offensive force,” Hopkins said. “He’s hard to guard. He’s got a ton of moves in the post and he’s also making a foul shots. That’s the biggest thing with big guys ... now he’s automatic.”
Ah, yes. Free-throw shooting.
Around 90 percent of the teams in college basketball were better from the line than the Huskies last season. UW shot 65.4 percent and ranked 318th out of 351 Division I programs.
The Huskies are shooting 71.4 percent this season and have seen growth from Dickerson and Timmins.
Dickerson, who shot 67.6 percent last year, is converting 73.1 percent of his chances. He also increased his volume of attempts from 4.6 per game in 2016-17 to 8.4 this season.
UW has received more all-around production from Timmins in several categories.
He averaged 3.2 points and 3.8 rebounds over 14.6 minutes as a freshman. This year, he’s scoring 5.4 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Timmins went from shooting 48.9 percent from the field to converting 58.3 percent of the time. Also, he went from shooting 37.5 percent from the free-throw line to knocking down 62.5 percent.
“I think Sam Timmins, in the last stretch, has been one of the most improved players defensively,” Hopkins said before the team’s 86-73 win over Nebraska-Omaha. “He’s made a significant impact on our team and he’s doing a lot better job offensively.”
Timmins said he understands he understands his role and assignments within Hopkins’ zone system.
His job is to patrol the paint and police the middle of the zone to stop teams from either scoring inside or getting offensive rebounds.
One could argue Timmins’ presence might be among the most vital for Hopkins and the Huskies.
UW is deep with guards and wings but Timmins is the only true center on the team. It’s why he could be of great value against the Jayhawks.
KU has options everywhere and it includes inside starting with sophomore center Udoka Azubuike. The 7-foot tall Azubuike is averaging 14.6 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Timmins will also have to keep an eye on guard Lagerald Vick. Although Vick is 6-5, he’s also averaging 7.0 boards a game.
“I’m enjoying the challenge because I just enjoy defense,” Timmins said. “A couple times, I get out and block those 3’s in the corner. It’s a cool feeling. It’s starting to click, so, I know I’m starting to feel more comfortable and those reads in the zone are natural.
“It’s been fun.”
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark
WASHINGTON (6-2) vs. NO. 2 KANSAS (7-0)
6 p.m., Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
TV: ESPN2. Radio: 1000-AM, 97.7-FM.
All-time series: KU leads, 8-1.
Statistics for 2017-18:
4 Devonte Graham, F (6-2, sr.): 18.6 ppg, 8.0 apg.
10 Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, G (6-8, sr.): 17.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg.
2 Lagerald Vick, G (6-5, jr.): 16.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg.
35 Udoka Azubuike, C (7-0, so.): 14.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg.
14 Malik Newman, G (6-3, r-so.): 11.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg.
1 David Crisp, G (6-0, jr.): 13.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg.
15 Noah Dickerson, F (6-8, jr.): 16.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg.
5 Jaylen Nowell, G (6-4, fr.): 17.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg.
4 Matisse Thybulle, G (6-5, jr.): 11.3 ppg, 3.28 spg.
33 Sam Timmins, F (6-10, so.): 5.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg.
Scouting report: Washington has quite a bit going on this week and it all starts with Kansas. KU is the first ranked team UW will play this year. Technically, this is the Huskies’ first road game because their two games in the 2K Classic in New York City were played a neutral site. Still, the Huskies are yet to win away from home and have not won away from Alaska Airlines Arena since a win last December over rival Seattle. In terms of UW’s last road outside of the state, that came during the 2015-16 season against Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament. Once UW returns to Seattle, it must turn its attention to in-state rival No. 12 for a showdown on Dec. 10 ... There’s a reason why KU is a favorite for the national title. KU’s five starters all average double figures. Plus, the Jayhawks might have the most dangerous offense in college basketball. KU is leads the nation in average scoring margin. The Jayhawks have won by 30.6 points and have won their last three games by a margin of more than 32 points.
Ryan S. Clark