Archive | Previews RSS feed for this section

Idaho Men’s basketball tips off fall practice – Video interviews

12 Oct

Idaho Men’s basketball held its first organized team practice of the fall Friday evening on campus. We caught up with coach Don Verlin afterwards, along with G/F Mike McChristian and F Stephen Madison, both of whom figure to play large roles with the team this year.

Verlin touched a bit more on Kyle Barone, who was suspended indefinitely on Monday and was not present at practice Friday night. Verlin said  he can’t set a specific timetable on when he would return.

Forward Stephen Madison fights his way to the rim.
Courtesy | Spencer Farrin

“What Kyle has to do (to return to the program) is between him and I. Obviously I’m very disappointed in Kyle, that kind of behavior is unacceptable in our program,” Verlin said. “But he is one of our family members. We love him and we’re going to do everything we can to get him on the court as quickly as we can, when he does the things that I think are necessary for him to come back.”

Other information of note from Verlin include:

- Verlin said he’d be surprised if 6-foot-8 CC transfer Marcus Bell doesn’t lead the team in rebounding.

- Verlin said starting spots, most notably in the backcourt, haven’t been handed out yet. Those position battles should carry on throughout fall practice and scrimmages.

Here are the (mostly) raw video interviews we got tonight. Please forgive the quality on the Verlin segment, mid-term chaos didn’t have us as prepared with the technology.


Idaho Men’s basketball tips off fall practice

Better Know a Foe: Week 7 – Everything’s bigger in Texas (State)

11 Oct

Idaho takes to the road this week to San Marcos, Texas, home of newly minted FBS program Texas State. The Bobcats will enter the Sun Belt next year, though for now the focus is on its debut and only season in the WAC. The program has been disappointing as a whole, losing three of its last four (the one win a close one over FCS Sam Houston State).

The Bobcats came out of the gate strong ravaging the Houston Cougars in Houston, though Houston has proved not to be the team it was a year ago under Kevin Sumlin. A close game against Nevada, only to turn around and get blown out against New Mexico, leave Texas State somewhat of an anomaly.

The Idaho starting quarterback has confidence erupting from his veins. Can he turn it in to a road victory?

One thing is for sure, the match-up Saturday will be a measuring stick for both programs. Idaho coach Robb Akey is serious about Idaho’s “new” WAC season. As far as he is concerned Idaho is 1-0, undefeated towards his goal of winning the final WAC football championship.

Idaho was able to take advantage of one struggling program last week with a win over New Mexico State, albeit ugly. If Idaho wants its first road win of the season the ugly mistakes are going to have to be cleaned up. Idaho needs to learn how to string together consistency throughout a game and learn how to take hold of momentum.

Idaho pulling out a victory against New Mexico State was never in doubt by the third quarter, but failing to score a touchdown in the second half allowed the Aggies to pull within one possession with under two minutes left to go in the game. That kind of lack of killer instinct will doom Idaho in the future, as we’ve already seen in the loss to Wyoming.

Continue reading

Monday Akey-Isms – Week 6 – “It’s homecoming, so why don’t y’all come on home”

1 Oct

Idaho coach Robb Akey was short and succinct about last Saturday’s game at North Carolina. After all, the Vandals did get blown out in every sense of the term, coming home with shields battered after a 66-0 loss.

“Obviously we didn’t play well, and we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity. They jumped off fast, it got ugly, it got out of control. Thank God it’s over, it’s history, we’re back home,” Akey said.

That’s the gist of what he had to say about the game. Instead, the coach used the news conference to push his attention to the future – A homecoming match-up between the FBS’ two newest Independent hopefuls. The New Mexico State Aggies are in the same position as Idaho, as the school has announced its intention to explore the independence route the same as Idaho. In fact, the schools are planning on playing a home and home next season – as in playing twice in one year.

As the athletic directors of the two schools work to finalize scheduling contracts that will allow both to stay afloat as FBS programs, it’s the head coaches that will work to solve the more immediate problem on the field.

Idaho sits at 0-5 on the year. New Mexico State is 1-4, with its only win against FCS Sacramento State.

“A week ago we’re sitting here in this same news conference talking about looking for a way to make one more play  and find a way to make it happen and get ourselves over the top,” Akey said. “That’s the same team that we are. We’re going to make that happen this week.”

Vandal fans should hope so. This just might the most winnable game left on the schedule. Idaho faces four more road contests and it’s two remaining home opponents have a combined 9-1 record (that lone loss is San Jose State’s three point loss at Stanford).

It can’t hurt that it’s also Homecoming week, in which the alumni visiting Moscow for the weekend could help to swell the hurting attendance at the Kibbie Dome.

“It’s homecoming, so why don’t y’all come on home. we’d love to have you and we got space available for you,” Akey said. “We’re all Vandals. And we want to see this team perform well. Obviously we all want the results of celebrating a victory, all singing the fight song. The corner club having a packed house with everybody happy after the game, that’s what we all expect.”

Here are the rest of Akey’s comments:

Quick Hits: 

- TE Taylor Elmo suffered a shoulder injury Saturday, Akey said. It’s not clear if that will make him unavailable on Saturday

- DE Benson Mayowa did not travel to North Carolina with the team, but Akey expects him to be available this weekend.

- MLB Su’a Tuala was able to play Saturday against North Carolina, but the hamstring injury is still a factor

- Also an intriguing storyline is the resignation of New Mexico State President Barbara Couture, who had served as the President of the WAC Board of directors.

On Blackman’s four interceptions: “Do I think that’s characteristic of him in a big game? No. I think it happened on that given day, unfortunately.”   “Throw that all on him? I don’t think so. To dissect that North Carolina experience, we don’t need to re-live that.”

On the challenge of keeping the team confident: “I hope that we have our minds ready to come back.  That to me is the challenge right now. They don’t need to re-live what took place in north Carolina. We’ve washed that thing away yesterday. We need to pay attention to something we have an effect on. It’s my responsibility and honor to be able to help them find a way to do it and see what they can do, because everybody else is telling us what we can’t do, we don’t need to listen to them.”

On struggles defending the deep ball: “We got to continue to work on technique and work on finishing that better. So that’s the technique of everybody involved,” he said. “The best coverage I’ve ever seen is a quarterback laying on his back.”

On the strength the WAC has shown in the first half of the season: “When we got started with the conference season I felt like anybody could make anything happen within here. Everybody is looking at us saying Idaho’s not going to be in that mix, well don’t count us out. We haven’t started the WAC play yet. But I do think there’s some damn good teams in this conference.”

On DeWayne Walker and NMSU’s similar conf. situation: Akey talked about the time that Walker was in Moscow watching his daughter compete in the WAC track and field championships last spring and the conversations they had about the similar situations they were in.

“We were talking about what goes on…We’re both fighting some similar battles in a lot of ways. He’s a guy I got a lot of respect for,” he said.

On communication between Akey and AD Rob Spear on schedule: “We’ve talked about it quite a bit, since we’ve got thrown in to this in the last couple months now. There’s been a lot of change to it. A lot of finality needs to get set in. We just visited a little more about it last week. Hopefully we can get some contracts secured so we can let everybody know what it is going on there. Some days it looks better than others, some days I’m looking for there to be another change. It’s on a better swing right now.”

Akey also brought up the impact that this situation has on recruiting, while also saying it’s easier to walk into a prospective recruit’s house for a recruiting visit with a new bowl ring as opposed to an old one. Akey said he’s also had some conversations with players that have approached him about Idaho’s situation but that the focus is still on this season.

“Certainly there’s going to be some of my younger guys…that are returning that are going to have some questions and I’m going to be honest with them and answer everything we can,” he said.

Better Know a Foe – week 3 at LSU edition – Geaux Time

13 Sep

It’s anybody’s guess on what will terrify the Vandals most Saturday night when the team walks out of Tiger Stadium’s visitors tunnel – The 450-pound live Bengal tiger caged up on the sideline staring them in the face, or the No. 2 team in the country that demolished the Pac-12’s Washington Huskies by 38-points last week.

In the heart of the Bayou they call it Death Valley, where teams that come in dreaming of upsets and victory often leave mauled and demoralized. LSU has won 19-straight at Tiger Stadium.

Regardless, the Vandals are well aware of the challenge that awaits them there.

The LSU mascot, Mike VI. He’s cute.

“Everything we do has to be another notch higher, another speed. That’s what they’re really good at, speed,” center Mike Marboe said. “That’s the biggest thing preparation wise, everything they do…is so much faster than anything we’ve ever seen.”

Speed, indeed. That speed kept the usually potent Washington offense touchdown-less and held quarterback Keith Price to 4.4 yards per passing attempt. The beat down of the Huskies moved LSU to 2-0 on the year, and 2-0 at Tiger Stadium with an average margin of victory of 32.5 points. 

“They call it Death Valley for a couple reasons,” coach Robb Akey said. “I think a lot of people have lost a game before they ever go in there, and that’s talking about SEC teams.”

Continue reading

Coach Akey speaks on story lines for Idaho fall football camp

31 Jul

Dominique Blackman(middle) and Taylor Davis(right) are on even ground for the starting QB race heading in to fall, Akey said

Finish. Finish. Finish. Finish. Say that word about 755 more times and you will arrive at how many times coach Robb Akey said that he used the word, or that theme, last week at WAC Media days in Las Vegas.

So come time when the Idaho football team hits the practice field for the first time in the fall, guess what the theme will be?

“I used the finish 759 times just in the media day alone, for an hour and a half. That was talking to cameras. So you can imagine what it’s going to be like talking to these players,” Akey said. “I’m gonna blow a horn they’re gonna know when the last quarter of practice begins for the next 29 practices. They’re gonna finish their dinner plates. We’re gonna finish everything.”

As he did during media days last week, Akey once again compared last years team to the 2009 version that won the Humanitarian Bowl. Last season the Vandals lost four games by one possession or less, four games that if swung the other way could have made Idaho bowl eligible. In contrast, in 2009 the Vandals won four regular season games by a touchdown or less. Five including the bowl victory.

“We made the play in the bowl season, we didn’t find a way to make the play last year. That is the bottom line. There is that fine a line between winning and not winning. That is a lot of what we’re paying attention to,” he said.

Idaho will hit the practice field on Thursday, Aug. 2 with their first scrimmage slated to happen on Tuesday, Aug. 7 and there should be story lines galore to follow, including the hotly contested quarterback battle and the health of the offensive line.

Continue reading

Robb Akey, Idaho, speak at WAC Football media days

26 Jul

With actual football season right around the corner we get to take just a bit of a break from the conference re-alignment chatter and all of the uncertainty for one thing that we know for sure: That the Idaho Vandals will be playing football in the WAC in 2012.

All seven football playing members in the conference were present at the Orleans hotel in Las Vegas, as well as Interim WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd who had a lot of interesting things to say about the future of the Conference. (I guess we can’t ENTIRELY get away from it, can we?)

Among the zingers was a definitive statement that the WAC would NOT be a football playing conference in 2013 and is instead looking to salvage a future as a non-football member. However, Hurd did make comments about the WAC possibly returning as a football conference in 2014 or 2015. Apparently there were also rumblings around the room that both Seattle and Denver were exploring the possibility of adding football programs as well, but those discussions would be very preliminary. Expect an official announcement within the next couple of weeks.

How would all of that affect Idaho? We will be addressing that next week, so look out for our piece on Idaho’s immediate football and athletic future.

As for actually getting down to business for Idaho football in 2012, Coach Robb Akey, CB Aaron Grymes and WR Mike Scott represented the Vandals down in Las Vegas at the WAC Media event.

Here are the highlights of what Robb Akey and the players had to down in Vegas, with a link to the video at the bottom:

Continue reading

Bringing the heat

18 Apr


After two solid defensive spring scrimmages, Vandal Nation caught up with Idaho defensive coordinator Mark Criner and seniors Aaron Grymes and Rob Siavii. Hear what they have to say about spring practice so far, senior leadership and competition for starting spots.

WAC Tournament: Vandal women optimistic for first round

6 Mar

Kevin Bingaman


Tournament time is finally here and the Idaho women’s basketball team will get things going when they take on San Jose State in the first round of the WAC Tournament Wednesday night.

The Vandals finished the regular season with a 6-8 conference record and are the No. 4 seeded team in the tournament. Idaho started conference play 0-5, but put it together in the second half of the season.

Sophomore Alyssa Charlston said the team is ecstatic for tournament play.

“We’re super excited,” Charlston said. “Everything starts off 0-0 from here on out, so we’re looking to play a whole new brand of basketball.”

It will be the third meeting between the Vandals and Spartans this season. Idaho won both meetings this year, but by a narrow margin.  Charlston said Idaho isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It shows that we can finish games, but the WAC tournament is a whole different thing,” Charlston said. “It’s a clean slate. It’s hard to beat a team three times. It’s been two close games. We have the confidence and know we are capable of it, but it’s no guarantee whatsoever.”

The Spartans are led by all-WAC selection Brittany Johnson, who is the second-leading scorer in the conference and played a big role in SJSU’s resurrection this season. Johnson set a new Spartan record for points in a season.

SJSU coach Tim La Kose was named WAC coach of the year this season in his first year with the Spartans. Under La Kose, the Spartans won nine more games than they did last season.

The Vandals won their last two games of the season, largely because they were able to take care of the ball. In their last two games the Vandals turned the ball over just 16 times. Idaho coach Jon Newlee said his team has to continue to cut turnovers if the wins are going to keep coming.

“We’re going to have to make good decisions with the basketball,” Newlee said. “I think we’re going to have to rebound and match their physicality. Defensively, they’re extremely talented and athletic offensively, so we’re going to have to get out there. I think we’re going to have to come focused defensively.”

Leading the Vandals is Charlston, who was also named to the all-WAC first team. Charlston was the fourth-leading scorer in the conference and the second-leading rebounder.

The Vandals are a young squad and the experience of a conference tournament will be a new experience to multiple players on the roster. Nevertheless, Newlee said his team is focused and ready to go.

“I think we’re focused,” Newlee said. “They know what’s at stake. It’s the best time of the year. It’s postseason tournament time, a lot riding on it. There’ll be a lot of emotion out there.”

“I think we’re excited to get out there,” Charlston said. “We just have to bring the energy that we brought the last five or eight games.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. at Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena. The winner of the contest will advance to the semifinals and play on Friday.



WAC Tournament: Scouting Report

5 Mar

VN Scouting Report – Utah State 2.21.12

22 Feb

Signing day primer – A look at Idaho’s commits and signing day storylines

31 Jan

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, 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. 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.

VN Scouting Report- San Jose State

25 Jan

Aggies seek revenge

21 Jan

Theo Lawson


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.

VN Scouting Report- San Jose State

3 Nov

Willamette preview

3 Nov

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 463 other followers