Archive | September, 2009

Practice Tidbits: Sept. 30

30 Sep

The Idaho Vandals were back out in pads today for practice, running contact drills in preparation for Saturday’s battle with Colorado State.

Coach Robb Akey said the players we mentioned yesterday as being held out of practice are officially “day to day,” but are all expected to be ready to play Saturday.

He told his team to keep practicing and playing “with a chip on your shoulder” every day — with visions of bowl games beginning to dance in the Vandals’ heads, Akey said focusing on one game at a time is key.

The good thing about being where you want to be is that every week is going to be a big game. Saturday is no exception. We need to take that next step forward and improve in every game. We’ve been doing that as a team so far and that’s why we’re in this position right now. That didn’t happen by accident.

We asked Akey about exploiting Ram quarterback Grant Stucker, who’s thrown nearly as many picks (five) as touchdowns (six). But he didn’t bite, instead praising Stucker’s arm and ability.

(Stucker) is a talented kid. He’s got a strong arm, he can make deep throws and he’s completed a lot of those. With a couple of those interceptions, the ball hit the receiver on his hands — not much he can do there. He’s got a real touch, but I hope we can stir him up, get some pressure on him and make him throw the ball up where we can get it.

Defensive coordinator Mark Criner agreed.

(Stucker) throws an exceptional deep ball. He can throw the ball 60 yards in the air and make big plays, and that’s where he hurt Nevada. The defense maybe started overplaying his interceptions and he took advantage of that for some long plays.

Criner said another challenge his unit faces includes taking on “the most athletic offensive line we’ve faced this year,” with big bodies and big experience. The Vandals’ defensive front dominated Northern Illinois last week, but Criner explained the Rams’ size isn’t everything.

(The Rams) are not necessarily bigger than the Huskies, but Northern Illinois was trying to smash you. These guys aren’t trying to smash you, they’re trying to get leverage and get outside in the run game, and they’ve done a good job of it.

Trey Farquhar was trying some long (and we do mean loooooong) boots and connected on a couple.

Below the fold, more from Akey and Criner.

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Good Morning Vandal Nation: Sept. 30, 2009

30 Sep

A chilly morning in Moscow — fall is on the way. To warm you up this morning, here’s our pick of news from around the WAC, with quite a bit of reporting from the Colorado papers.

Coming today, we’ll have our picks for WAC basketball’s top juniors and a report on today’s football practice.

Fewer than 600 student tickets remain for Saturday’s game — pick up yours at the UI Ticket Office in the Dome before they’re gone.

Update: 1,000 more student tickets have been released as of this afternoon.

Football

Men’s basketball

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Hoops Preview 2009-10: The WAC’s Best Seniors

29 Sep

The 2009-10 basketball season is just about a month away, and to kick off our 2009-10 preview, we’ll join Western Athletic Conference beatbloggers Chris Murray and Jason Groves in offering our picks for the WAC’s best senior ballers. Juniors, sophomores and freshmen will follow.

We’ll mix things up a little bit by requiring the picks to be by position, with a first and second team. Players are judged on the basis of overall performance and team impact.

First team:

G: Mac Hopson, Idaho

Really, there’s nothing to dispute here. Hopson was an utter machine last year, averaging 16.4 points, a WAC-leading 5.9 assists (19th-best in the nation), 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals, while playing 34.3 minutes a game (third-most in the WAC). With a deeper squad giving him more legit scoring threats to feed, Mac’s points may go down this year but his already-high assist numbers should rise. Simply swarming Hopson won’t be an option for the Vandals’ opponents in 09-10, and that makes him and his team all the more dangerous. Perhaps most importantly, with more point guards on coach Don Verlin’s bench of tricks, Mac can get a breather more than once a half. As we note below, the pairing of Mac with Pacific transfer Steffan Johnson may give Idaho a backcourt that no WAC rival can match.

G: Jonathan Gibson, New Mexico State

The Aggies very nearly upset the Utah State juggernaut in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament this year, and Jonathan Gibson’s huge 16 points on 6-13 shooting is a key reason why. A pure shooting guard who never got into an assist groove, Gibson averaged 14.1 points and 1.4 steals per game overall as part of coach Marvin Menzies’ run-and-gun, shoot-first-ask-questions-later offense. But Gibson’s defensive abilities have to get better this season if NMSU hopes to contend for the title — the Aggies gave up a league-worst 74.4 points per game last year.

F: Sylvester Seay, Fresno State

The keystone to Fresno State’s offense, Seay is a serious impact player who can dominate the paint. We saw it in Moscow last year, where he scored 14 points, made four huge blocks and nearly led the Bulldogs to an upset on the Vandals’ home floor. On the season, Seay averaged 15.3 points, 5.8 boards and 1.7 blocks, landing in the WAC’s top 15 in all three categories. He has a nice touch for the inside shot and is unafraid on defense — but that’s gotten him into trouble, with five foulouts on the season. Unusually for a 6-10 big man, Seay can also nail the trey — he was the Bulldogs’ second-leading three-point shooter behind freshman stud Paul George.

F: Roderick Flemings, Hawaii

In an awful year for the Rainbow Warriors, Flemings was one of the few bright spots. He led the team and finished fourth in the WAC in scoring with 16.6 points per game, while also leading the team in steals with 35. Like Hopson, he was a stalwart on the court, averaging a WAC-leading 36 minutes per game.  A lack of teamwork (starting with ineffective point guard Kareem Nitoto) hurt him last year — with a rebuilt support cast that may be coach Bob Nash’s last hope, 2009-10 should be better for Flemings. Again like Hopson, he might score fewer points but be a more effective player overall.

C: Magnum Rolle, Louisiana Tech

Not only does he sport one of the conference’s best names, Rolle can rock his opponents in the paint. His numbers (12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, .530 FG%, 52 blocks) were among the WAC’s best, and his dominant inside power forces opponents to open up the floor to the Bulldogs’ numerous outside threats — among them Kyle Gibson. Coach Kerry Rupp’s squad struggled as a whole to score, with a WAC-worst 63.3-ppg average, so the impact of Rolle’s buckets and boards can’t be overestimated. He sputtered in the WAC Tournament’s opening game vs. Idaho, but came up big against Nevada, nearly carrying La. Tech to a second straight bracket upset. What he needs to add in his senior year is consistency — four times he scored more than 25 points, but another four times he scored six or fewer points.

The second team and honorable mentions are below the fold.

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Practice Report: Sept. 29

29 Sep

The Kibbie Dome is echoing with whistles and shouts again, as the 3-1 (1-0 WAC) Idaho Vandals ready themselves for Saturday’s fight against the 3-1 (0-1 MWC) Colorado State Rams.

Daniel Hardy is on the sidelines, suited up but sans pads. He apparently got banged up a bit at Northern Illinois. He’s expected to be ready to play on gameday. Jonah Sataraka, JoJo Dickson Shiloh Keo were also being protected.

The Vandals’ first team, including QB Nathan Enderle, was working game reps, and there were also a couple practice kick-return situations. Return coverage has been a bugaboo for the Vandals all season, giving up an average of 21 yards per return. Last week, the Huskies frequently found themselves starting from their own 30 or 40-yard line.

We stopped to take a look at the line at the Dome ticket office — it’s filling the hallway and spilling out into the foyer. Lots of students picking up their tickets, and the athletics department has reported that three-quarters of the student-allocated ducats have already been distributed.

Aaron Grymes is getting quality reps, as the true freshman has become a stalwart starting defender.

The Red and Black Attack believes they know why Idaho won: it’s the Axe.

We’ll have quotes from Enderle, Sataraka, Robb Akey and DeMaundray Woolridge tonight.

Good Afternoon Vandal Nation: Sept. 29, 2009

29 Sep

We’re back, with a big pile of links from the weekend that was. All sorts of good stuff relating to the Idaho Vandals’ upset of Northern Illinois. We apologize for the day-long hiatus, but there was homework to catch up on!

The Vandals are receiving more national attention than ever — as well they should, given their 3-1 record, the best FBS start in school history and the best overall since 1994.

But the gridiron Vandals aren’t the only squad on a hot start. Idaho’s women’s soccer squad is 7-4 heading into conference play this weekend, also its best-ever season start.

On Saturday, the Vandals will take to the Kibbie Dome for a nationally-televised night battle against the Colorado State Rams, which will close out the non-conference season. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. — students are advised to pick up their tickets soon, as nearly three-quarters of the allocation has already been distributed.

Football

  • The Argonaut’s Jennifer Schlake has a game report that also mentions Nathan Enderle’s WAC Player of the Week honors.

Men’s basketball

  • Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal and Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News both make preseason picks for the WAC’s best players. Murray’s top seniors and juniors; Groves’ top seniors and juniors. No surprise, Mac Hopson is among them.

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Vandals stun Huskies, 34-31, for Idaho’s best-ever FBS start

26 Sep

On the strength of stellar performances by quarterback Nathan Enderle and running back DeMaundray Woolridge, the Idaho Vandals upset Northern Illinois today, 34-31, in DeKalb, Ill. for their best start ever as a Football Bowl Subdivision team. The Vandals are 3-1 on the season, 1-0 in Western Athletic Conference play.

Enderle threw for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns on 18-of-23 passing with no interceptions, and Woolridge bulldozed his way through the Huskies’ defense for 143 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries — an average of 7.5 yards per carry.

The Huskies (2-2) struck first on the scoreboard, kicking a field goal midway through the first quarter, but the Vandals responded early in the second period with a 26-yard touchdown strike to Daniel Hardy, and from there Idaho never trailed. Only a valiant last-ditch effort by the Huskies closed the gap in the fourth quarter. The Huskies scored midway through the period, then forced an Idaho three-and-out. Bobby Cowan’s punt was blocked, leading to an easy one-yard Me’co Brown touchdown run. That brought the Huskies within 3 points with just under 6 minutes remaining. But the Vandals marched down the field on the ensuing drive, and the Huskies were unable to prevent Idaho’s offense from running out the clock.

The Vandals’ dominance on the line of scrimmage was game-changing. Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish threw for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he was sacked twice and hurried many more times by a stifling Idaho defensive effort.

WAC football preview: Sept. 26

26 Sep

Here’s the rest of the WAC capsule previews. After Nevada’s loss last night, the conference could sure use a couple nice non-con wins.
Today’s games (all times Pacific):

Fresno State (1-2) at #14 Cincinnati (3-0), 9 a.m.

Coming off a brutal shootout defeat by Boise State last week and a painful overtime loss at Wisconsin, things won’t get any easier for the Fresno State Bulldogs when they travel to face the Bearcats.

The Bulldogs are one of the WAC’s best programs on paper, but they’ve yet to prove it this season in the win-loss column. Their only victory so far came over FCS UC Davis, and while it’s clear Fresno State can score (their offense is ranked Top-10 in the nation) the real question is whether they can stop anyone else from scoring. Against FBS opponents, the Bulldog defense has been Swiss-cheesed, giving up 34 points to the Badgers and 51 to the Broncos.

Ryan Mathews ran for 234 yards and three touchdowns against Boise State, and to upend Cincinnati, Fresno State will need similar production from him. Stopping red-hot Bearcats QB Tony Pike, who threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon State, may not be possible. If the Bulldogs can’t at least slow him down, they probably lose this one.

Idaho (2-1) at Northern Illinois (2-1), 12:30 p.m.

The Vandals are off to their best start in a decade, but this weekend they run headlong into a red-hot Huskie squad that will be at least their equal — and quite possibly their better.

NIU upset Purdue last week, 28-21, for only the program’s second-ever all-time win over a Big 10 team. Their ground game has been massive, running over the Boilermakers to the tune of 280 yards. Sophomore RB Me’co Brown accounted for 150 of those yards, plus a touchdown. Overall, the Huskies racked up 454 yards on offense, moving the ball essentially at will.

The Vandals have defended the run decently enough so far, but “decent” isn’t likely to cut it, particularly not on the road. Most worrisome, perhaps, is Idaho’s mediocre performance inside the red zone. Settling for field goals simply won’t cut it here — QB Nate Enderle, RB DeMaundray Woolridge and the rest of the Vandal offense have to figure out how to produce touchdowns. If the Vandals can keep scoring while targeting on Brown to wear him down, they’ll have a shot to win.

#8 Boise State (3-0) at Bowling Green (1-2), 4 p.m.

OK, so Bowling Green is actually an FBS program, but this is likely to be a pretty massive blowout in favor of the Broncos, perhaps on the scale of some of the FBS/FCS blowouts we’ve seen earlier. Nothing about the Falcons remotely suggests they can contend with the nation’s #8 team, as much as it pains us to admit it.

After opening the season with a win over Troy, Bowling Green has dropped two straight, to Missouri and Marshall, and the Broncos just ran amok all over perhaps the WAC’s second-best team in Fresno. This one will be over early. No need to belabor the point.

Cal Poly (1-1) at San Jose State (0-2), 5 p.m.

If the Spartans can’t beat Cal Poly, they may well be on a fast-track to 0-12. The schedule doesn’t get any easier from here on out. San Jose State will face Idaho at home in two weeks, then travel on back-to-back Saturdays to Fresno State and Boise State. Ouch.

The really scary part is, Cal Poly could well win.

The Mustangs beat San Diego State in 2006 and 2008, and nearly upset Wisconsin last year. They’re a top FCS squad, while the Spartans are a mediocre FBS one. That can be a recipe for disaster if you’re the home team. San Jose State’s another team that’s shown absolutely no ability to score or stop their opponents from scoring — they’ve been outscored 122-34 to open the season, giving up 800 yards on the ground and another 700 in the air. The Spartans’ ground game is nonexistent — the roster has a combined 81 carries for just 55 yards.

Poly, meanwhile, has four rushers averaging over 5 yards per carry, and two with more than 100 yards already. Mustang QB Tony Smith has tossed for 230 yards and three touchdowns. The worry for Cal Poly has to be passing — if San Jose State can get QB Jordan La Secla on a roll, the Mustang secondary could be ripe for the picking against FBS competition.

Southern Utah (1-2) at Utah State (0-2), 5 p.m.

The Aggies are a better team than their record indicates, having hung tough with Utah and Texas A&M on the road. Now their reward for surviving those brutal battles is a homecoming cupcake from Cedar City. The Thunderbirds’ only win so far came against Division II Dixie State, and they’ve given up a total of 77 points in consecutive losses to woeful San Diego State and fellow FCS squad Northern Arizona.

Thunderbirds QB Cade Cooper has shown some capability, at least on paper — tossing 7 touchdowns in just three games. But the SUU defense gave up 35 points to SDSU and 42 points to Northern Arizona. Against that porous unit, Utah State will turn loose stud running back Robert Turbin, who’s rushed for an amazing 269 yards on just 26 carries and wideout Stanley Morrison, who’s picked up 183 yards on just 9 receptions — that’s 20.3 yards per catch. It’ll be good night, Irene early on for Southern Utah. “Warm up the bus,” indeed.

New Mexico State (1-2) at New Mexico (0-3), 7 p.m.

This game is the ESPN Bottom 10 Pillow Fight of the Week, and not for no reason. The Land of Enchantment is, this year, the Land of Awful Football. Both teams are at the bottom of their respective conferences, largely because neither team has shown anything remotely resembling an offense. For that matter, there’s not been much defense, either.

Combined, the Aggies and Lobos have given up 199 points while scoring just 68.

This may be New Mexico State’s only chance at an FBS win this year (though they travel to San Diego State next week…) and if DeWayne Walker wants to stave off disaster in his first season, this is the place to start. Quarterback Jeff Fleming has no reliable receiving targets — and his touchdown-to-interception ratio stands at 4 picks, zero scores. The Lobos aren’t any better in the quarterback department, though — they’ve gone through two QBs already, who have each thrown 2 interceptions to zero touchdowns. It’s going to be up to the running game to come through here — RBs Seth Smith and Marque Colston will have to carry the Aggies to their first victory in the Rio Grande Rivalry since 2002.

Yesterday’s game: Missouri 31, Nevada 21

WAC football preview: Sept. 25

25 Sep

We’re introducing yet another new feature — our weekly Western Athletic Conference football preview. We did thorough looks of all the WAC hoops matchups last year, and now we’ll do it for the gridiron, too.

We’ll have tomorrow’s matchups posted after the Vandal soccer game this afternoon.

Today’s game (all times Pacific):

Missouri (3-0) at Nevada (0-2), 6 p.m. (ESPN)

The Nevada Wolf Pack are opening their home season — and, surprisingly, still looking for their first win. At 0-2, the Pack were crushed by Notre Dame, 35-0, and were barely competitive in a 35-20 loss to Colorado State. It’s an inauspicious start for coach Chris Ault and his once-vaunted “pistol” offense — quarterback Colin Kaepernick is averaging 200 yards in the air, but he’s thrown 4 picks and just 1 touchdown.

The Tigers, on the other hand, are looking to go 4-0 to start the season, after dismantling Illinois in the Arch Rivalry game, edging Bowling Green and blowing out Furman, an FCS school. Sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert is looking wise beyond his years, tossing 250 yards a game and completing 68% of his passes, while the ground game gobbles up another 164 yards. Against the Fighting Illini, Missouri’s stifling defense allowed only two scores, while sacking Juice Williams three times and picking him off once.

Ault’s future as coach of the Wolf Pack may hang in the balance — Nevada hasn’t opened a season with three straight losses since 1999. Home cooking may provide some of the cure, but having given up 70 points while scoring just 20 doesn’t bode well for the Silver and Blue, not when playing a team with as many weapons as Missouri has. If the Pack don’t pull this one out, expect the calls for Ault’s head to rise to a crescendo.

Good Morning Vandal Nation: Sept. 25, 2009

25 Sep

The sun rises on another day in Vandal Nation, and it’s just one day to gameday in DeKalb, Ill.

On tap today here, we’ll have previews of every Western Athletic Conference football matchup, along with coverage of today’s Idaho Vandals/South Dakota Coyotes soccer game.

Football

Men’s basketball

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Better Know a Foe: Northern Illinois

24 Sep

The Idaho Vandals head to DeKalb, Ill. this weekend, where they’ll face the Northern Illinois Huskies out of the MAC. Like the Vandals, the Huskies are 2-1 on the season, and are coming off a huge upset of the Big 10’s Purdue Boilermakers — only the program’s second win ever over a Big 10 team.

In 2007, the Huskies came to Moscow and left the Dome with a 42-35 victory — one of just two wins on the season.

To get the scoop on the 2009 version of the Huskies, we talked with Mike Breese, who writes at The Red and Black Attack.

How big is that win over Purdue?

The win at Purdue is definitely up there with the great all-time wins by Northern Illinois. Most importantly, it breathes a new life into these Huskies who don’t have to keep hearing about how great the 2003 season was anymore. It had been way too long since we beat a BCS team and this 2009 team wants to put their own mark on the program.

It seems like the Huskie offense is clicking on all cylinders, with 454 all-purpose yards vs. Purdue. What worked?

Running the ball and being efficient in the passing game. The Huskies ran the ball right at Purdue and were able to make some plays. The big guys in front really cleared some big holes. QB Chandler Harnish made all the necessary throws to keep drives going.

When the Huskies are on offense, what should we watch for and who are the key playmakers?

On offense, your eyes squarely should be on running backs Me’co Brown & Chad Spann. Me’co is the smaller, speedier guy that is our home-run threat. Spann is the guy that you will see if we need those short yards or if we are in redzone situations. At QB, Chandler Harnish throws a nice ball, can manage the game quite well and is a threat to run at any time. We throw the ball to any of the billion guys we have out there running routes. Our fullback is our leader in receiving yards.

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Good Morning Vandal Nation: Sept. 24, 2009

24 Sep

That’s right, it’s time for another morning slug of coffee, a biscuit and your WAC news links.

On tap today here will be another installment of Better Know a Foe with the NIU Huskies.

Football

Men’s basketball

Women’s basketball

Golf

  • The Vandals women’s golf team won the WSU Inland Cup yesterday, and GoVandals.com has the story.

Volleyball

Vandal Spotlight: Charlotte Otero

23 Sep
Charlotte Otero

Charlotte Otero

With a new coach, a history of failure and a ridiculously thin bench, not much was expected of the Idaho Vandals women’s basketball team last year.

But Jon Newlee’s squad shocked the Western Athletic Conference by posting its best performance since joining the WAC, going 13-15 (10-6 WAC) and earning a 3-seed in the WAC Tournament. Newlee was a deserving recipient of the WAC Coach of the Year award, despite the fact that the Vandals lost in the quarterfinals — the lack of depth finally showed through.

Key to the resurgence of Vandal women’s hoops was a 5-3 spark plug from San Diego: Charlotte Otero. Controlling the Vandals’ offense, Otero dished up 100 assists while playing an astounding and NCAA-leading 40.6 minutes per game — that’s right, she averaged more than a game a game, thanks to overtime games.

This year, the Vandals are looking for their first postseason berth since Pat Dobratz took them to the 1986 Women’s NIT Championship. Otero’s floor leadership will be key to that quest, and we sat down to talk with her about the coming season.

Vandal Nation: Talk about how your basketball career got started.

Charlotte Otero: I started playing in fifth grade. My best friend was playing, and I kind of went along with what she was doing. I really loved it, and I was just good at it. Our high school (San Diego High) was really good, we never lost a game in our league for four years. We were league champions all four years, went to the state tournament twice and lost once in the final. The experience was great — I got to play with big-time players like Charde Houston, who went to UConn and is now in the WNBA.

What brought you to the University of Idaho?

I was originally going to try going to a JC in Arizona. It was fairly close, it had a four day school week so I could come home and visit my family. I signed there, but then my high school coach said, “Go try Idaho, give it a chance.” I said, “I don’t want to go, it’s Idaho, I don’t even know what’s out there, I don’t even know where that is!” But they convinced me to come out on a visit, the day after I graduated high school, and that changed my mind — I wanted to come play up here.

San Diego to Moscow, that must have been quite a change.

To be honest, at first I hated it. It took some getting used to, but I love Moscow now, it’s such a second home. I really don’t see myself moving back to California. I don’t know where I’m going to stay, but I love the small town atmosphere and the snow’s even growing on me — for the first couple months, anyway!

Talk about the difference you’ve seen Jon Newlee make in the program, as compared to his predecessor, Mike Divilbiss.

Things are a lot different. Everything’s more fun, the game is more our style of play, the way I want to play. Before, it was all about slow it down, run this play, run that play. Now we run up and down the court all the time. It makes the game so much more fun to play and I’m sure it’s much more fun to watch. We also get a lot more support out of our coaching staff. Having coaches who have more experience and know what they’re doing has helped us as players, because we have much more confidence in what they’re telling us to do.

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Announcing the Vandal Hoops Road Trip

23 Sep

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Vandal Nation today announces the Vandal Hoops Road Trip 2009-10.

This site was born of hoops season last year, and while we strive to cover every sport that Idaho competes in, our first love remains the hardwood.

The 2009-10 Idaho Vandals men’s basketball team is poised to be the best Idaho hoops squad since the Don Monson years. With four starters and all five leading scorers returning, led by First Team All-WAC point guard Mac Hopson, combined with a jolt of new talent that includes Steffan Johnson, Corey Stern and more, this is a squad that can legitimately contend for the WAC Tournament championship and a ticket to the Big Dance. We believe this team deserves the best possible coverage we can muster.

So we’re going on the road to report at eight away games — more than half of Idaho’s 15 scheduled road contests — and we’ll be courtside at the WAC Tournament in Reno for the second year in a row. All this, in addition to our complete home coverage of every game in Moscow, excepting the Lewis-Clark State exhibition game.

  1. Nov. 13: Utah at Salt Lake City
  2. Nov. 21: North Dakota State at Fargo, N.D.
  3. Dec. 9: Washington State at Pullman, Wash.
  4. Jan. 4: San Jose State at San Jose, Calif.
  5. Jan. 30: Seattle U. at Seattle
  6. Feb. 3: Utah State at Logan, Utah
  7. Feb. 6: Boise State at Boise
  8. Feb. 13: Fresno State at Fresno, Calif.
  9. March 10-13: WAC Tournament at Reno, Nev.

The Vandals’ toughest non-conference opponents, Bison Fever on the Dakota tundra, a midseason duel in KeyArena, the WAC’s juggernaut Aggies and a rivalry brawl in Boise. It’s a cross-section of the Vandals’ road season, and winning consistently on the road is a must if Idaho hopes to contend for a conference championship.

Long nights, impossible odds

In the spirit of one of this site’s true inspirations, The Mid-Majority, we’ll also strive to give you a taste of the road. Not the first-class charter jet, luxury-hotel road that’s enjoyed by power-conference teams — but the Southwest, Greyhound and Motel 6 road that’s traveled by mid-major squads like Idaho.

To pull this off on a college student’s budget, we’ll be traveling all night by bus, living on pressroom pizza and bumming rides to the Spokane airport. When we fly, it’s on dirt-cheap fares or leftover frequent-flyer miles from paying gigs long ago. Sleep will be found in Pricelined motels, on friends’ couches and in lonely airport concourses. Coverage first, comfort last. That’s how Vandal Nation rolls.

So along with the courtside news, you’ll find a travelogue documenting the places and people of mid-major college basketball in the West. We’ll visit with the geniuses behind The Refraction, Utah State’s “cold-blooded wrecking machine” gameday newsletter, dodge Thundar the Bison, try to find out what a “Redhawk” is, laugh at the Jiffy Lube Rocket Cheetah and join Boise State’s “Student Rowdy Section.”

There will also be Bally pictures.

The journey is long. Our opponents are hungry. The hardwood is waiting. Vandal Nation will be there. We hope you enjoy the trip.

Good Morning Vandal Nation: Sept. 23, 2009

23 Sep

We’ve reached the midpoint of the week and as usual for Hump Day, there’s plenty of news from all around the WAC.

Today, we’ll have that basketball announcement (it would have gone out yesterday but for a little thing called homework) and a Vandal Spotlight on senior point guard Charlotte Otero.

Another reminder: students who want to attend next week’s televised battle between the Vandals and the Colorado State Rams need to pick up tickets from the ticket office in the Kibbie Dome east-end building. Swiping your Vandal Card won’t be enough.

Football

Men’s basketball

Golf

Walla Walla prep standout Gary Winston is committed to Idaho

22 Sep

Last week, there were a number of rumors floating around about Walla Walla prep standout Gary Winston, who had offered a verbal commitment to play for the Idaho Vandals next year. They suggested that perhaps Winston had second thoughts, had revoked his commitment after receiving national notice and major-conference interest over the summer.

Those rumors are categorically false.

Parsing the WAC and the Tri-City Herald have done great work in tracking down the truth here. René Ferran spoke with Winston yesterday and got this crystal-clear answer:

“I’ve heard the same stuff, too, and it’s not true,” (Winston) said. “I don’t know how it got started, but I am still going to Idaho.”

We’d looked into the situation ourselves, but coaches and programs are barred from speaking about recruits until they’ve signed a Letter of Intent.

Parsing the WAC also talked with Gary’s father, who had this to say about his son’s choice to attend UI:

“Gary was impressed with the coaching staff and the school layout and liked that it wasn’t a huge university where you can get lost.”

Thanks to Kevin McCarthy and René Ferran for wearing out the shoe leather to get the facts.

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