Mike Hopkins made one thing clear during his introductory press conference at the University of Washington: he’s going to be his own coach, not a shadow of Jim Boeheim.
And maybe that’s why he wanted to leave his alma mater and take on a challenge where he won’t draw comparisons to his former coach. Maybe he’s smart to do that, too.
No matter what Mike Hopkins did at Syracuse, it would always be compared to Jim Boeheim.
“Well, what would Jim have done?” “He shouldn’t have done that, Jim would’ve done this!” “He’s too much like Boeheim!” “He’s not enough like Boeheim!”
Whatever the case may be, he would’ve been in Boeheim’s shadow forever.
But at Washington — it’s a clean slate. It’s his program to build from scratch. Whatever he wants to do, he can. Because in Washington he’s Mike Hopkins. But in Syracuse, he’s the guy that took over for Jim Boeheim. And it’s not just Hop, it’s whoever is the next head men’s basketball coach.
“My dream in life was to be the best coach in the world,” Hopkins said. “Didn’t matter if it was Syracuse. The hardest thing with Syracuse is I was so close, I was so tied into the community.”
Hop will take things he learned from Syracuse with him to Washington. There’s no question. He even admitted he wants to bring what Syracuse has out to Washington and build a winning tradition.
But he’s going to do it his way.
“When all the boxes were checked in this one, I was thinking let’s bring (Syracuse) there. Let’s bring a winning program. Let’s use some of those strategies that we did (at Syracuse). Let’s do those types of things, and I just think it’s the place I want to be.”
Hopkins continued on to say he’ll use the 2-3 zone, and even called it a great weapon in college basketball. But he did say it’s too predictable at times, and said he wants to be unpredictable at Washington.
He continued to stress that he wants to control the tempo of the game. And whether that’s pressing, playing zone or man-to-man, he’s going to run whatever he feels is right. It’s the nature of college basketball, and being unpredictable is key in most situations.
“The options are limitless, but I can tell you the zone will be utilized. It’s a heck of a weapon. But there’s going to be an unpredictable attack. I like to unpredictable, and sometimes the zone can be a little bit predictable.”
Hop had said time and time again that he would run both man and zone when (well, not anymore) he took over at Syracuse, so this doesn’t come to much of a surprise. But it will be fun watching what he does as Washington’s head coach and how much is similar to Syracuse — and how much is different.
Hopkins also denied all the conspiracy theories out there in regards to Boeheim knew he was never leaving and that he forced Hop out, etc..
It just became time — and Hop knew it. This really is an unbelievable opportunity for the 47-year-old long-time assistant. He’ll be making $1.8 million this upcoming season, and by the end of his contract, he’ll be making more than Jim Boeheim did in 2014.
Money isn’t everything, but that’s a pretty nice gig for your first head coaching opportunity.
As for his future — we wish Hop all the best. He’s a rising star in the business, and he deserves all the success in the world. We’ll miss him, there’s no doubt — but we know he’ll do great things out at UW.