McDaniels Played Hurt and Frustrated, Hopkins Says of Freshman

Dan Raley

It's all good.

Asked about benching struggling freshman Jaden McDaniels at Colorado, Washington basketball coach Mike Hopkins on Wednesday turned the other cheek.

Hopkins insisted the first-year forward played hurt in the game and became frustrated because of it. 

The coach even  took the blame for sending McDaniels out on the floor in the first place in the 76-62 loss to the Buffaloes. 

"It was probably my bad," Hopkins said. 

He explained that McDaniels, who was suffering from an ankle injury, had never played hurt before. He added that players respond differently to injuries. 

The third-year coach also maintained that he wasn't specifically referring to McDaniels in his postgame comments that night when he said that any player who didn't play the way the coaching staff wanted simply wouldn't play.

"Everybody thought I was making it to Jaden," Hopkins said of his harsh criticism. "I was making it to the group."

McDaniels drew just nine minutes of game time on Saturday night in Boulder and didn't appear at all over the final 16-plus minutes.

He'd committed a technical foul -- his fourth of the season -- the game before at Utah, hitting an opponent in the head on a blocked-shot attempt. The infraction led to a six-point play and enabled the Utes to rally for the victory. 

It was assumed that McDaniels had gotten on the wrong side with the UW coaching staff, but Hopkins assured everyone that wasn't the case.

Actually, it sounded like the Huskies coach, who sends his team up against Arizona on Thursday night, was doing some damage control.