Paywom Wooden Legacy Quotes – Washington 62, Fresno State 57

Washington Coach Mike Hopkins – Washington Head Coach Mike Hopkins

Opening Statement – “We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a rock fight, an old school rock fight. They [Fresno State] pride themselves defensively, they’re tough. They have guys that play multiple positions and [Fresno State Head] Coach [Justin] Hudson is one of the best defensive coaches in the country. We knew what it was going to be like. The first half was a little bit of a struggle offensively for us and then in the second half we got a little wiggle room and we were able to hold on for a hard fought win.”

(On the second half) – “We had to keep playing defense regardless of shots going in or out. [G] PJ [Fuller II] led it on the defensive end for us. I’ve never seen a team – I’m going off script here – but I thought we probably took eight charges. ‘ve never been a part of a zone team that took that many and that was just them being locked in and disciplined.  It always starts with PJ [Fuller II]. It was a tale of two halves. We couldn’t really make a shot but I just told them regardless of what happens, we got to play defense. The coaching staff did a great job of keeping these guys confident. It’s not like missed shots affect your defense. The coaches told them to have some courage and knock down those shots and we did.”

(On what C Braxton Meah brings to the program) – “Man, he’s a special talent. When he’s confident, it’s a wrap defensively. Offensively, we saw it in the way he started the second half, I thought he was really the one that got us going. His physicality, the way he was getting position, and then on the defensive end, he’s still learning a new defense. Obviously, Fresno State played a lot of man and we’re playing a lot of zone so he’s learning it and he shows moments of brilliance. Once that becomes a little bit more consistent, we’re going to be a different type of team. The one thing that he is – he’s an incredible player – he’s an incredible human being. To work with him every day has been a true blessing.”

(On F Keion Brooks Jr.) – “If you look at it statistically, he’ll have better days because we know how good of an offensive player he is. But he  stepped up and played unbelievable on the defensive end. The one thing about Keion [Brooks Jr.] that’s just so great is that it’s all about winning. How do we win? What do we have to do to win? You’re going to have off nights, but the one thing that always travels is your defense and your heart and desire and he definitely did that tonight.”

(On the Fresno State possession where they missed five shots)  -Jamal [Bey] and Keion Brooks [Jr.] both played heavy minutes. I think we had one of the young guys in and one of the freshmen up top. It’s one of those things where it’s a scramble and the one thing that we’re trying to do is take away that three point shot in those situations. They get one offensive rebound, we’re like a little discombobulated and guys I think we were trying to figure out where we were supposed to be. But that’s how Fresno State plays and you got to give them a lot of credit. They were going after it. We knew that if we could match their toughness – that was one possession for the most part that we did a good job – then we would put ourselves in a position to win the game.”

(On bouncing back from the loss to Cal Baptist) – “Winning is hard in college basketball. There are so many good teams, so many good coaches and so many good players. With the transfer portal now teams become different. The one thing that we try to focus on with our guys is how do we become better ourselves, with our team? Sometimes it becomes the matchup that you’re playing. I felt like tonight was a great stepping stone. We took a step up in the sense that we didn’t play great offensively. When you shoot 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from three you know, you have to play great defense. We just learned how to win against a really good coach, a really good program and a really good team, not having a great offensive night. When you can do that, you’re showing signs mentally where you need to be and we’ll get better on the offensive end.”

(On what it would mean to win the 2022 Paycom Wooden Legacy) –

“I think anytime you win a tournament, it’s an amazing accomplishment. The other day when we talked to our team after our loss, PJ [Fuller II] talked about ‘DMGB’ –  doesn’t matter, get better. How do we learn from tonight, how do we prepare for the next opponent and how do we go and put ourselves in position to win that game? That’s been our philosophy. To be able to play for a championship in the tournament of arguably the greatest coach in any sport ever, and for me to be home and have my mom there for the first time in a long time is pretty special. Doing it with a bunch of kids – excuse me – young men and a coaching staff that you love to be around, I mean we’re in this thing together.  To have that opportunity, I think it’s pretty special.”

(On having Assistant Coach Quincy Pondexter on the staff) – “He’s a dream come true. His knowledge of the game, his work ethic, his character and his love for the University of Washington. I will tell you if he has a second love, it’s Fresno. He talks about Fresno, he loves Fresno and takes a lot of pride. That’s just who he is, a very loyal guy that gives what he loves 110% every day. I’m just really blessed to have him back on staff and work with them on a day-to-day basis.

Washington Guard PJ Fuller II

(On taking charges) – “They were definitely over-dribbling and we realized that they were getting in the lane and jumping off one foot. I kind of just put my body on the line and everybody just followed. We stepped up and made big plays on the defensive end because the coaches said that was how we were going to win the game.”

Washington Center Braxton Meah

(On playing against his former team Fresno State) – “I loved it. I got to play against the people I’ve been playing with for the past couple of years and it was this amazing experience. I got to do it with my new family so it made it even better. I’m so used to being with them so going against them, it just felt weird but I made it happen.

(On what attracted him to transfer to Washington) – “I would say the coaching staff – I really liked the coaching staff. They push me every day, even the players push me every day to get better and I just felt like it was the right fit.”

Fresno State Coach Justin Hutson – “Great to be at this tournament. Tough loss. We did some good things tonight, but not nearly good enough.”

(On the game getting away from them in the second half) – “The guys came out and threw the ball away. It’s that simple. Some of the guys were older that came in and threw it away. They have to come out and play better in the second half. They have to do what we say we’re going to do in the locker room. They have to come out and lock in during the second half and get good shots. We just came out and threw the ball away.”

(On the poor 3-point shooting) – “We haven’t played that many games yet.”

(On how to turn things around this season) – “We have to play better. We have to show the things we do well and be happy about that. The things we don’t do well we have to get back to work and play better.”

(On Sr. F Isaih Moore) – “The last two games he’s been really good. These last two games he’s been rebounding, he’s been defending and he’s definitely a heck of a talent. You want to win the games for sure, but he has defended and rebounded a lot better than he did the previous three games. Somehow, he’s decided he wants to do what it takes to win. We’re proud of what he did tonight, not just scoring, but actually boxing out, running back, talking and making good passes. He was very good tonight.”

(On Jr. G Donavan Yap) – “He made a couple of nice moves.”

(On if the high amount of turnovers are surprising given the experience on the team)

“With the 21 turnovers, I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, I would say disappointed. We have to work on it because most of them were unforced. Dribbling down, running people over, throwing the ball in the high post to the other team. You’re not going to win games that way.”

(On playing against former Fresno State player Braxton Meah)

“I love Braxton [Meah]. I thought he was great. There’s no ill will there and it was cool. I don’t know if he made a huge difference out there. I’m proud of him. It wasn’t like this was LeBron playing against Kobe and they switched teams, no. This is a Fresno native in today’s transfer portal. It was great. I was able to give him five and give him a hug. I just wanted to make sure we double-teamed him a little bit sometimes.”