Archive | November, 2009

Hoops game with #25 Portland moved to Memorial Gym

30 Nov

We’ve confirmed that Sunday’s hoops game between Idaho and the #25 Portland Pilots will be moved to Memorial Gym from its originally scheduled venue of the Cowan Spectrum. This is to accommodate indoor football practice in the Kibbie Dome in anticipation of a probable bowl invitation.

While we can’t fault the decision-making here, it’s disappointing because it represents a blown opportunity for Vandal basketball to put on a marquee showcase.

The Pilots are the first nationally-ranked non-conference team to visit Moscow in at least 50 years, and possibly the first ever. This could be — should be — a premier game for the Vandals, a chance to play against one of the nation’s best teams on our difficult home court in front of thousands of fans.

Instead, it’ll be shoehorned into an admittedly-historic but ridiculously-undersized 1,500-seat gym, meaning tickets will be extremely limited for Idaho’s best non-conference home game of the season. Thousands of Vandal fans will be left out in the cold — and students, in particular, are likely to be shut out, given the requirements to seat the season ticketholders.

Students will be required to pick up hard tickets, though the details have yet to be worked out. We’ll keep you posted.

As a televised opportunity for the Vandals, our program’s facilities will be shown as second-rate at best — there are a good many Division II home courts that put Memorial Gym to shame.

This problem wasn’t anticipated, of course, because nobody thought our football team might be good enough to get into a bowl game. Whoops.

Let this debacle be a wake-up call to our administration: if the Idaho Vandals are expected to compete and win at the top level of American college sports, they need facilities worthy of championship teams. That means an arena Verlin and Newlee’s squads can call home.

Good Morning Vandal Nation: Nov. 30, 2009

30 Nov

As the morning dawns and students flock back to campus, we’re down in the home stretch of the semester. It was an up and down weekend for Idaho sports, but this week promises to hold great opportunities on the hardwood.

On Saturday, Idaho ended its home football season with an disappointing loss to Utah State, after defensive breakdowns once again put the Vandals in a hole they couldn’t dig out of. But Don Verlin’s hoopsters provided a boost that night with a decisive home win over Eastern Washington to go to 4-1, their best start in decades.

Then, Sunday brought the first victory for Idaho’s women, who struggled early on with shooting woes and the loss of team leader Derisa Taleni. Offense was not a problem, as the Vandals whipped up on Louisiana-Lafayette, 90-66.

This weekend promises to be a historic one for Idaho sports, as #25 Portland comes calling in Moscow Sunday. The Pilots, who have beaten Oregon, UCLA and #22 Minnesota, may be the first nationally-ranked non-conference team to ever take on the Vandals at home. That game will tip off at 5 p.m. and is scheduled for the Cowan Spectrum.

Now for the links:

Basketball

  • Last night, Nevada made a strong showing in the defending national champions’ house, taking North Carolina down to the wire despite their lack of depth. Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal has the story from Chapel Hill, N.C. (props to the RGJ for sending him on the road) and observes that the Wolf Pack can claim a moral victory.

Football

Marvin Jefferson: Throw it down, big man, throw it down!

29 Nov

Vandal center Marvin Jefferson says GOOD NIGHT EAGLES with a two-handed exclamation-point jam last night in Memorial Gym, as the Vandals routed Eastern Washington.

Vandals bury Eastern Washington in a blizzard of 3-pointers

28 Nov

With a minute and change gone in the second half of Idaho’s home contest against Eastern Washington tonight, Steffan Johnson grabbed a feed from Mac Hopson at the top of the key and buried his fourth three-pointer of the game to put the Vandals up by 25.

Twenty seconds and a Marvin Jefferson block later, it was an instant replay. Hopson dished off to Johnson in the wing and as his shot arced through the air, the 1,500 fans in Memorial Gym came to their feet even before it swished through the net. They knew it would be good — every one before had been.

On the strength of seven straight 3-point makes and a stifling defensive effort, the homestanding Vandals blew out Eastern Washington, 76-54, to go 4-1 on the young season — Idaho’s best start since 1988. EWU fell to 2-4.

“This was a heck of a win,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “We dominated them. We rebounded the ball well, got out in transition and held (the Eagles) to 36 percent shooting. That’s just good execution all around.”

The Vandals made eight of 12 3-point attempts, the third-best team performance from downtown in Idaho history, and Johnson’s 6-for-7 shooting outside was the third-best by a single player. Hopson and Marcus Lawrence also got in on the action from long range, shredding the Eagles’ man-to-man defense. Overall, Idaho shot 54.2 percent on the night — and 66.7 percent in the first half. Idaho leads the WAC in both shooting categories — hitting .489 from the field and .446 from downtown.

Both teams started slowly, and an early trey from the Eagles’ Kevin Winford meant Idaho led by just a single point three minutes into the game — 4-3. But the Vandals would score eight consecutive points and go on a 32-12 run in the next 10 minutes of the half, anchored by big inside buckets from Jefferson and Luiz Toledo. The Eagles would not threaten again, and Idaho would build a 31-point lead midway through the second half before calling off the dogs.

Johnson led all players with 18 points on 6-7 shooting from 3-point range, along with 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. He was joined in double figures by Toledo’s 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and ten more from Jefferson, who was 4-for-8 from the field. Hopson, the other half of Idaho’s 1-2 backcourt punch, was 4-of-5 from the field for 9 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished up a team-high 4 assists.

“I was just feeling it tonight,” Johnson said. “When we’re shooting like that, it helps us in so many ways. They had to open up their defense, give space to our big guys inside and it’s a huge mental boost, too. When you hit like that, the bench gets into it, the crowd was really going — you start thinking you’re never going to miss.”

Continue reading

Idaho 76, Eastern Washington 54

28 Nov

The night finishes on a high note for Idaho, as the Vandals blew out Eastern Washington, 76-54, on the strength of an absurd .667 shooting performance in the first half. Steffan Johnson once again led Idaho with 18 points on 6-for-7 shooting from behind the arc, the third-best 3-point performance in Vandal history. Idaho improves to 4-1 on the season, their best start since 1988.

We’ll have a complete story and video interviews shortly.

Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Eastern Washington

28 Nov

With football in the books, Idaho hoops looks to close the night with a victory over the Eastern Washington Eagles out of the Big Sky Conference.

Pregame coverage starts at 6:30 p.m., with live play-by-play commentary, analysis and chat after tip-off at 7 p.m.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Eastern Washington!

Utah State 52, Idaho 49

28 Nov

For the Idaho Vandals, it was yet another hole dug too deep. Idaho battled back from a 31-7 deficit against the Utah State Aggies to take the lead with just under 10 minutes to go, but two late turnovers allowed Utah State to get the 52-49 victory and spoil Idaho’s Senior Day. The Vandals fell to 7-5 on the season, 4-4 in Western Athletic Conference play. Utah State improved to 4-8, 3-5 in the WAC.

We’ll have a complete game report tonight after Idaho basketball.

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