Courtesy UI Athletics
Hard to believe, but Idaho Vandals hoops will kick off in just over two months. We sat down with men’s coach Don Verlin to talk summer workouts, scheduling and his goals for the season ahead.
Vandal Nation: Talk about the Vandals’ progress over the summer.
Don Verlin: I evaluate the summer based on how we did in the weight room and how we did in the classroom.
Our guys did a great job in the classroom, they passed all of their summer classes and are moving toward graduation. We have no eligibility problems and everyone made academic progress.
Now, we also made tremendous strides in the weight room, Nate Barry, our new weight coach, he did most of the work. I thought one of our weaknesses last year was our physical strength and quickness, and I thought we improved tremendously there. That’s why we like bringing in new guys over the summer, like Joe Kammerer and Shawn Henderson, so they can learn how to lift weights properly, and not get hurt.
Our guys and Washington State had open gym together as well, just 5-on-5 pickup games. That gave the guys a chance to play together and play hard against good competition.
Contrary to what one might expect from a pair of hotshot point guards, Steffan Johnson and Mac Hopson seem to have a real good rapport on the court. Was that something you worked on building during Steffan’s redshirt year?
No, that was more up to them – they both have great mutual respect for each other’s game. They know that for our team to reach our potential, there’s going to be, a lot of times, I think, they have to be on the court together. They will be on the floor a lot together this year. As a coach, it’s a great luxury to have them. Both of them can play the point, both can play the off, either way. I’m going to rely heavily on Mac, Steffan and all our seniors to be team leaders this year. How well we do is going to depend on how much responsibility they take for the team.