In this week’s news conference, Idaho women’s basketball coach Jon Newlee talks about the team’s eight game losing streak, the success of Alyssa Charlston, and the talented youth core of his team.
In this week’s news conference, Idaho coach Don Verlin talks about the team’s loss to Hawaii, their upcoming games at Fresno State and Nevada, and the importance of Djim Bandoumel.
Sean Kramer | Argonaut
The Idaho Vandal football program will welcome new members to its family Wednesday.
National signing day marks the first day prospective student-athletes for football are allowed to send signed, binding letters of intent to coaches to accept scholarships.
The days, weeks and months leading up to signing day can be the most fun for fans as speculation is non-stop as to where prospective athletes will go to school. By the end of the day, a clearer picture will be painted of the college football world, and the Vandals.
It’s important to remember a few points when speculating about the commitments the Vandals have received from players. For one, even if they are verbally committed it does not stop potential players from keeping their options open and considering other schools. Verbals are spoken understandings between coaches and players, and not binding at all. The world of recruiting is incredibly fluid and athletes change their minds all the time.
Second, most of what the public knows about commitments and scholarships that have supposedly been offered come from the athletes themselves and media accounts. Idaho coach Robb Akey and the Vandal football staff are prohibited from speaking about any athletes that haven’t sent in a LOI to a school. Until then, it is an NCAA violation.
Now, here are the kids that have tentatively agreed to become Vandals.
Ma’ne Maneae – safety – Lakes High School (Lakewood, Wash.)
Commit status: solid verbal
As Washington based prep sports writer Jerry Mercado put it to me, Maneae is Christmas come early for the Vandals. The three-star recruit, according to Scout.com, committed to Idaho after an official visit Jan. 13. Maneae lacks ideal safety size at 5-foot-11-inches but presents speed and could be used anywhere in the secondary. He will be a welcome addition to a defensive back field that lacked closing speed had difficulty containing the deep pass.
Chad Chalich, quarterback, Coeur D’Alene High School
Commit status: solid verbal
Chalich’s recruiting situation is eerily similar to former Boise State QB Kellen Moore. Chalich is fresh off leading his team to the 5A Idaho state championship while pulling Idaho state player of the year honors, and was largely dismissed as a scholarship-worthy athlete to most programs in the Northwest.
Boise State and Utah only offered him a place as a prefer walk-on and Idaho was the only reported team to offer him a scholarship. It will be interesting to see if Akey offers the opportunity for Chalich to compete with Dominique Blackman and Taylor Davis for the starting job or if he redshirts. Chalich told Josh Wright of the Spokesman-Review he would prefer to redshirt his first season as a Vandal. Chalich is one of three quarterbacks committed to Idaho’s recruiting class.
Johmel Charles, fullback, Dominguez High School – (Compton, Calif.)
Commit status: undecided
If Charles ends up in Moscow he could be exactly what Idaho’s running game has been missing. The third and short, goal-line situations were so bad for the Vandals in 2011, that by the end of the year linebacker Korey Toomer was getting carries in order to convert first downs. Charles brings a 240-pound frame to the table and is a punishing blocker. He played defensive end, offensive line and running back in high school and could even translate to linebacker at the college level. Charles has offers from Southern Methodist and Fresno State as well. He is said to be favoring Boise State, but does not have an offer from coach Chris Petersen and the Broncos.
Matt Willis, linebacker, Los Angeles Harbor Junior College
Commit status: solid verbal
With the departure of Tre’Shawn Robinson the Vandals could be counting on Willis to compete for a now-vacant inside linebacker spot. Willis has good sideline-to-sideline speed and is an aggressive run-stopper who fits the Vandals’ defensive scheme well. He was a JUCO all-American at Los Angeles Harbor.
Other names to keep an eye on:
Jayshawn Jordan, cornerback, O’dea High School (Seattle, Wash.)
Commit status: soft verbal
Jordan originally committed to Wyoming but according to Doug Pacey of the Tacoma News Tribune, has switched his commitment to Idaho. Rivals.com has him committed to both schools, curiously. We’ll know for sure on signing day.
Cranston Jones, cornerback, West Mesquite High School (Mesquite, Tex.)
Commit status: solid verbal
There is a reason Idaho is attacking the secondary in this recruiting class. The Vandals convinced Jones to resist offers from Houston and Air Force in order to come to Moscow. ESPN ranks him No. 32 best corner prospect in the country. If Idaho is able to ink these potential Vandals, fans can expect them to make an immediate impact in fall 2012 and Akey better hope they do.
A career night from Djim Bandoumel wasn’t enough to help the Vandal men’s basketball team escape the Cowan Spectrum with what would’ve been a fourth straight home WAC victory, Saturday night during their 76-70 loss to Hawaii.
Two nights following a win over San Jose State, Idaho lacked the defense for a consistent Hawaii offense that buried 56 percent of it’s shots.
The Warriors maintained the lead for almost 12 minutes during the first half and despite stealing their own lead on multiple occasions, the Vandals found themselves at a major disadvantage when junior center Kyle Barone picked up three early fouls in the first half.
Warriors center Vander Joaquim had a mismatch on Bandoumel and Joe Kammerer, picking apart the Vandal defense down low with his size and strength. 12 of Joaquim’s 18 points came in the first half, when the Angola native was 6-6 from the field.
However, Bandoumel’s physical presence created a headache for Hawaii coach Gib Arnold. Bandoumel’s career high 24 points included a 10-13 shooting performance from the field. The senior was also 4-4 from the charity stripe.
It was a night that saw the Warriors knock down their shots at seemingly all the right times, while their starters provided almost all of their team’s offensive production. The Hawaii bench combined for just six points, and four of their five starters tallied at least 15 points apiece.
Joaquim’s presence on the boards didn’t go unnoticed either, as he and Joston Thomas each grabbed nine rebounds.
For Idaho, Bandoumel was the star once again, with 24 points, two blocks and four rebounds. Stephen Madison impressed with 15 points and three assists.
The Vandals will hit the road for the first time since January 14 and visit Fresno State on February 2. Idaho beat the Bulldogs 63-59 in Moscow on January 7. Bandoumel was a perfect 6-6 from the field with 16 points, which was a then career high for the Quebec native.
Coach Don Verlin preached revenge during practice this week and that’s exactly what the Vandal men’s basketball team got during a 74-66 win over San Jose State Thursday in the Cowan Spectrum.
After the Spartans ended Idaho’s NCAA Tournament hopes at the 2011 WAC Tournament, Idaho utilized offensive rebounds and a red-hot shooting hand to keep San Jose State winless in conference and extend its home WAC win streak to three games.
“We knew we had to pick up our defensive intensity but I think more than anything we just needed to wear them down and I thought we did that as the half wore down,” Verlin said. “I thought we kept getting there on their shooters and contesting their shots and we just kind of wore them down as the game went on.”
The Spartans began the game convincingly as freshman guard DJ Brown scored eight of San Jose State’s first 10 points. Idaho proved guarding the perimeter is still an issue as the Spartans converted five of 10 first-half attempts.
A back-and-forth first half saw the lead change eight times and though the Spartans led by as many as nine, Idaho managed to gnaw the lead down to one as a Deremy Geiger 3-pointer sent the Vandals into the locker room trailing 37-36.
The Spartan sharpshooters were 51.9 percent from the field in the first half, while Idaho followed closely at 51.7 percent.
Idaho sought an offensive rhythm within minutes of the start of the second half through Geiger and junior center Kyle Barone. Geiger netted consecutive 3-pointers while Barone knocked down multiple jumpers to propel Idaho to a convincing 7-point lead.
The Spartans closed the Vandal lead to one but freshman Connor Hill hit his third 3-point shot of the game to return the lead to four.
Bandoumel, Barone and Stephen Madison found themselves in foul trouble late but Geiger became the savior once again and another three from the Las Vegas native helped Idaho to an 8-point lead.
“It was just teammates finding me open, setting screens and me having confidence to knock it down,” Geiger said. “It’s good that I made the seven 3s, but even better that we won the game.”
San Jose State’s Keith Shamburger sent an elbow to Bandoumel’s head, and following a timeout was called for a flagrant foul and immediately ejected.
Bandoumel said he wasn’t fazed by Shamburger’s physical play.
“We had the ball, I turned around and he elbowed me in the face. … He was what, 1 for 8 tonight, so I don’t care,” Bandoumel said.
The Spartans went ice cold from beyond the arch in the second half and ended the game 7-27 from 3-point range.
Bandoumel and Barone recorded double-doubles, for Bandoumel it was a career first. Despite four fouls, Barone proved essential in the paint, shooting 8-14 with 21 points. His 11 rebounds were also a game high.
“I definitely played good and I expect that out of myself every game. I’ve just been kind of down on myself maybe a little too much … Djim was telling me every time, ‘They can’t stop you,’” Barone said. “I have to come with that mindset every game.”
All 21 of Geiger’s points came from 3-point range as the senior went 7-10 from 3-point range.
The Vandals prepare for another rapid WAC turnaround and host Hawaii Saturday at 8 p.m. The Rainbow Warriors were 3-3 in the WAC and 11-9 before visiting Utah State Thursday night. Preseason WAC Player of the Year candidate and University of Arizona transfer Zane Johnson leads Hawaii with 15.8 points per game.
Johnson has scored 20-plus points on four occasions this season and tallied a season-high 29 points in the Warriors’ 91-87 over New Mexico State.
The Cowan Spectrum hasn’t been friendly to Utah State in recent years and Saturday night’s Vandal win over Don Verlin’s former squad wasn’t any different, as Idaho shocked the defending WAC champion Aggies 57-54.
Idaho, who trailed Utah State for the majority of the game, found a way back into it with two minutes remaining through the likes of senior Djim Bandoumel and sophomore Stephen Madison.
Down four, Bandoumel grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on the put back. Two Kyle Barone free throws tied the teams at 53 but Madison turned the ball over and was called for a defensive foul on the other end leading to a Danny Berger free throw.
Madison, who had suffered a toe injury earlier in the game, was 2-9 from the field with four points up until his fourth three-point attempt of the night found its way into the basket, giving the Vandals a two-point advantage.
A Mansa Habeeb free throw made it a three point game and Medlin’s final shot, contested by two Vandals, flew off of the back of the rim and into the hands of Bandoumel, who secured it for the Vandal win.
The decision to not start Bandoumel was one made by coach Verlin earlier in the week but the Quebec, Canada, native proved a crucial component to both the Vandals offensive and defensive efforts. Bandoumel was 6-9 from the field with a team high 16 points. He grabbed six rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
Medlin led all scorers with 17 points despite being 1-7 from three-point range. Idaho held WAC player of the year candidate Brockeith Pane to six points.
The Vandals continue their three-game home stand on Thursday against 0-5 San Jose State.
The losing streak has now reached six games for the Vandal women’s basketball team, with a 72-49 loss to Fresno State on Saturday in the Cowan Spectrum.
Fresno State (15-4, 3-0 WAC) proved why they’re the first place team in the WAC, while a young Idaho team (5-14, 0-3 WAC) continued to struggle.
Sophomore Alyssa Charlston said her team isn’t showing what they’re capable of.
“We should be competing with a team like Fresno State, and we did,” Charlston said. “We should not be at the bottom of the WAC. We have too much talent. We have too much heart, but we need to show that on the court.”
The Vandals came out sluggish in the first half and quickly fell behind when the Bulldogs went on a 12-2 run in the first 10 minutes of the game. Fresno State led by as many as 12 points in the half, but the Vandals woke up and finished the half strong, cutting the deficit to eight to go into the locker room down 32-24.
The Bulldogs entered the game averaging 10.1 three-pointers a game, the second most in the country, but it wasn’t their inside game that was the difference in the first half. The Vandals held the Bulldogs to just 1 of 4 from the arc in the first half and 4-18 for the game.
Unfortunately for Idaho the second half was all Bulldogs. Fresno State quickly took control of the game in the second half and Idaho couldn’t mount a comeback. The Bulldogs were able to put it in cruise control for the last five minutes of the game pulling out what was a one-sided victory.
Turnovers, which have plagued the Vandals all year, continued to be a problem. The Vandals turned the ball over 29 times which led to 30 Bulldog points. The Vandals also have up 24 offensive rebounds leading to 17 second chance points for the Bulldogs. Newlee said his team isn’t being tough enough underneath the basket.
“We’re not physical enough. We’re soft and that’s the problem,” Newlee said. “… You have to get tough in division I basketball. That’s just the way it is. It’s been a season long problem for us.
The Vandals were without their second leading scorer Stacey Barr, due to a one game suspension for a flagrant foul at New Mexico State, which hurt Idaho in this one. Alyssa Charlston led the Vandals with 15 points while freshman Krissy Karr also had a solid game with eight points.
The Vandals will continue the home stand on Monday when they take on Nevada at 6 p.m. in the Cowan Spectrum. The game was originally scheduled to be played on Jan. 19, but was moved due to poor weather conditions. Idaho will then close the home stand against Utah State on Saturday.
“Everyone needs to play like a leader on the floor,” Charlston said. “It’s not just about talking or getting people fired up. It’s about playing as aggressively as we can and as hard as we can because that rubs off on other people.
Last season the Utah State Aggies came to the Cowan Spetrum as the nation’s No. 17 team, and ruined their 17-game unbeaten streak with a loss to the Vandals.
When the teams meet at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in the Cowan Spectrum, the rosters and implications will in no way resemble last year’s barn burner.
Thus far, the Aggies haven’t seen near the success of last year’s NCAA Tournament team. Utah State came into the 2011 match-up at 10-8 and 2-2 in the WAC. In addition, Stew Morrill’s Aggies only return one starter from last season — all-WAC Player of the Year candidate Brockeith Pane.
Former Aggie assistant and current Vandal coach Don Verlin has met his former team six times since signing with Idaho and is 1-5 with the only win coming in Moscow last February.
However, Utah State 2011 WAC results to date are identical Idaho’s. The Aggies disposed of Fresno State, fell to Nevada, dropped another to New Mexico State and came out of Ruston with a victory over La. Tech. Idaho’s loss to New Mexico State came by just 12 points but Utah State suffered a 20-point beating at the hands of New Mexico State. On the other hand, Utah State came close to taking down Nevada, only falling by seven points, while Idaho was embarrassed by the Wolf Pack, losing by 18.
Verlin looks at the three-game home stand as an advantage and won’t downplay Saturday’s showdown although the game’s intensity can’t compare to that of last year.
“Preston Medlin’s playing very well for them — very, very good shooter and very similar to Ledbetter,” Verlin said. “Pane is back and is one of the better point guards in the league no question about it. Kyisean Reed is an undersized floor man who is very athletic, Morgan Grim played for them last year and is a big, strong, physical guy,” Verlin said.
Defensively, the teams match up well, and while they are No. 7 (Idaho) and 8 (Utah State) in the WAC for steals per game, the Vandals lead the conference in blocked shots and the Aggies in three-point percentage defense. Both teams rank in the top four in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.
Point guard Landon Tatum is still concerned with the team’s ability to make defensive stops in crucial times — perhaps the reason the Vandals endured a three-game losing stretch by a combined seven points.
“We probably could’ve ended the La. Tech game a lot earlier than we did and then New Mexico State, it went down to the wire. There were certain times where we might have messed up an offensive call and a defensive call,” Tatum said. “Those types of mistakes in a conference game will just mess you up or give you a loss.”
Utah State and Idaho are No. 4 and 5 in the WAC, and a Vandal win would put Idaho at 3-2 in conference play and 10-9 overall.
Idaho will look to catch a break this season as Aggie forward and Twin Falls native Brady Jardine is out indefinitely with a foot injury. Jardine, who has only played in three games this season, grabbed 16 total rebounds in two games against the Vandals last season.
Ex-Aggie and current Vandal shooting guard Deremy Geiger said this year’s match-up with Utah State is somewhat similar to last season’s.
“I think the game plan is a similar type game plan,” Geiger said.