When starting point guard Quade Green was declared academically ineligible hours before the University Washington’s Jan. 9 game against Stanford, it marked the turning point of the Huskies’ season.
With Green, UW started the season 11-4. Without him, they went 4-13 en route to a last place finish in the Pac-12. The Huskies struggled through a nine-game losing streak in Green’s absence, not winning a game between a Jan. 16 victory over Oregon State and a Feb. 22 win over Cal.
It’s no surprise, then, that one of the biggest offseason questions was whether Green would be back on the floor for UW at the start of the 2020-21 season. During a phone interview on Monday, head coach Mike Hopkins was asked if he expected that to be the case.
“Oh, yes,” Hopkins said. “Yes.”
That’s good news for the Huskies. While they graduated only one senior in Sam Timmins, star freshmen Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels are most likely headed to the 2020 NBA draft, though neither has officially announced a decision as of Tuesday afternoon. Without them, UW will have holes to fill — and Greens’ return will help ease that transition.
Hopkins shuffled through starting point guards after losing Green, eventually settling on freshman Marcus Tsohonis as the starter and using a combination of Tsohonis and sophomore Elijah Hardy down the stretch. But the Huskies didn’t just miss Green’s production, they missed his experience and leadership. As a result, they also seemed to lose their identity.
“When Quade went out, it was kind of like, ‘Yeah, we’re not going to miss him.’ You know what I mean? We’re good. That’s how it should be. We’re good,” Hopkins said.
“But we went down to Stanford and we had a 12-point lead with five minutes to go and we kind of let it run away. It was kind of like a hard loss. And then you play Cal and it’s a bank shot and a corner shot and we can’t make a shot. It kind of can snowball, where you lose the confidence because of that inexperience and youth.”
Green averaged 11.6 points per game and 5.3 assists in 15 games. He also shot 51.4% from the floor and led the Huskies by shooting 44.7% from the 3-point line.
UW averaged 73.6 points per game with Green, and that number dropped to 67.9 without him. Even though he missed more than half the season, Green still finished as UW’s leader in assists with 79. McDaniels was second with 65.
“I think everybody took a hit when Quade went down,” Hopkins said. “I think Isaiah did. I think Jaden did. I think Naz (Carter) did. We started getting a little bit better late because we were pushing it up, we were running more, we were trying to be advantageous in transition.”