Washington’s Mike Hopkins wins Pac-12 Coach of the Year award

Washington head coach Mike Hopkins, second from left, smiles and holds his arms wide as he looks on late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Colorado, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Seattle. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

SEATTLE – Mike Hopkins isn’t ready to reflect on the successful season he’s authored at Washington because there are still games to play – starting with a Pac-12 Tournament first-round matchup against Oregon State on Wednesday.

The Huskies men’s basketball coach doesn’t want any proverbial pat on the back for quickly returning the program to relevance after a season when UW was 9-22 and 2-16 in conference games.

However, it’s difficult not to notice the transformation on Montlake pulled off by Hopkins, who won the Pac-12 Coach of the Year award in a vote by conference coaches.

“Numbers don’t lie,” said junior guard Matisse Thybulle, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year winner.

The Huskies (20-11, 10-8) have made an 11-game improvement this season, second most by a Power 6 conference team. It’s the largest increase in wins between seasons for a UW team since the 1936-37 (15-11) and 1937-38 (29-7) seasons.

“Coach Hop is an amazing coach,” said junior forward Noah Dickerson, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection. “You can see what he’s done. … He turned what we used to know and turned us into something totally new – something different. It took us a little while, but we finally bought in. And you see at this point we’re 20-11. I don’t remember the last time I won this many games in a season.

“Twenty is a lot of games and 20-11 as a first-year head coach is pretty crazy, especially when you don’t have time to bring all new kids in and things like that and you just take over. So he’s done a great job with what he’s been given.”