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WAC preseason polls announced, Idaho too low

24 Oct

Madison McCord | Vandal Nation
Junior forward Stephen Madison throws down a dunk before the Black and Gold Scrimmage Friday.

The preseason suspension of Idaho center Kyle Barone must have really hurt the Vandal men’s basketball team who have been picked to finish sixth and fifth in the coaches and media polls respectively.

The Vandal women’s team also slipped lower than we projected finishing fifth and sixth in the coaches and media polls respectively.

Three bright spots did arise from the polls though for the Vandals, with three players receiving all-WAC honors. For the men, Barone was picked as a first-team member in both polls after finishing last season as a second-team all-WAC selection. On the women’s team, junior forward Alyssa Charlston was a first-team selection in both polls, while sophomore guard Krissy Karr received second-team placement in both. Continue reading

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

Idaho men’s basketball assistant accepts WSU position

24 May

Larry Johnson | GoVandals.Net

Washington State announced Tuesday that it has named Ray Lopes assistant men’s basketball coach. Lopes had previously served as associate head coach for the Vandals under Don Verlin.

Though Lopes declined comment to Vandal Nation on the move, Verlin said that Lopes approached him less than two weeks ago to ask him if he could pursue an offer from Washington State coach Ken Bone. Verlin encouraged him to do so.

“Our business is a networking one…I always encourage my assistants if they think they can better themselves, they need to make the best decision for themselves and their families. I’ve never been a person to hold my guys back,” Verlin said.

Verlin said while he didn’t necessarily anticipate a shake up in his coaching staff, it wasn’t a total surprise.

Continue reading

Idaho fails to advance, falls in Logan

17 Mar



It was an unbearable end to an unforgettable season for the Idaho men’s basketball team, who were thrashed by WAC opponent Utah State 76-56 in the second round of the Tournament Saturday in Logan.

After defeating UC Santa Barbara in Wednesday’s first round game, the Vandals experienced one of their worst shooting nights of the season, digging themselves into a hole during the first half that saw them go 27 percent from the field.

“It’s a very tough place to play, they’re very well coached,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “This game needs to be flushed down the toilet, really. I don’t think we need to focus on this game as far as our season.”

The Vandals, who went scoreless for the game’s first four and a half minutes, scored just 16 points in the first half. A Utah State team that also struggled offensively started out shooting 1-7. However, a 13-0 Aggie run followed and the hosts found themselves up 19-3 midway through the first.

Five minutes later, the Aggies scrapped together a 12-0 run to extend their lead to 24 points. Stew Morrill’s squad cruised into halftime with a 39-16 lead.

The teams traded 7-0 runs to begin the second but a Vandal comeback would prove to be too demanding a task, despite shooting a much-improved 52 percent in the second half.

Though no Idaho players scored in double digits, juniors Kyle Barone and Mansa Habeeb each poured in eight second half points to help the cause of an offensively flat Vandal side.

Aggie guard Preston Medlin tallied a career-high 32 points against the Vandals earlier this season but Idaho held the sophomore all-WAC first teamer to 50 percent from the field and 17 points this time around.

Idaho out-rebounded the Aggies 30-25 but committed 17 more turnovers. Utah State shot 49 percent from the field and was led by Brockeith Pane, who dished out 11 assists despite scoring just seven points.

For Verlin, Saturday’s result in no way reflected what Idaho achieved during the regular season.

“What this Vandal team did is they played with their heart all season long. This team did a number of unbelievable things and things you have to be proud of,” he said. “They came to work every single day, it didn’t start in the season, it started early this summer.”

The dedication and hard work paid off for a team that accomplished a number of impressive tasks this season.

For starters, the Vandals lengthened the season by winning their opening round game in the CIT Tournament, a feat they failed to achieve last season when falling to the University of San Francisco in the opening round. Their postseason appearance was the third in four years.

The Vandals posted their best WAC mark (9-5) in school history and beat every team in the process, including an away win at then undefeated Nevada.

Lastly, four of Idaho’s five starters received all-WAC honors, including each of the team’s three seniors; Deremy Geiger, Landon Tatum and Djim Bandoumel.

“Our seniors were as good as three guys as I’ve ever seen,” Verlin said. “They all did their jobs, so mainly their hard work and dedication to Vandal basketball enabled them to put together a great season.”

Verlin’s 19-win team returns two starters in Barone and sophomore Stephen Madison, while all eight of the team’s bench players will also be back.

“We’ve got to continue, we had lineups out there that we’ll play a bit next year, I like the foundation,” he said. “We have 10 guys coming back, and I think we’ve recruited well.”

CIT Tournament: Idaho men vs CSU Santa Barbara photo gallery

15 Mar

The Idaho men’s basketball squad built a 17-point lead in the first half against CSU Santa Barbara and despite a hot second-half by the Gauchos, Idaho held on to squeak out 86-83 win in the first round of the College Insider’s Tournament. The Vandals will face off against WAC-rival Utah State in the second round. Photos courtesy of Ilya Pinchuk

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Women outworked in semifinals

9 Mar

Another season for the Idaho women’s basketball team is in the books after the Vandals fell to Fresno State 80-55 in the WAC Tournament semifinals on Friday at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Fresno State’s defensive pressure disrupted the Idaho offense all game and the Vandals were never able to mount a comeback after falling behind early.

Sophomore Alyssa Charlston said Idaho wasn’t able to adjust to Fresno State’s speed and pressure quick enough.

“We’ve played against it before, and I don’t know why we came out more tentative this time,” Charlston said. “We kind of lacked confidence in the beginning and it just seemed like their speed of the game was faster than us.”

The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time at the start and quickly established control of the game. Idaho was held scoreless through the first nine minutes of the game, allowing Fresno State to take a 20-0 lead. Things settled down a bit for Idaho in the second half of the period, but the Vandals still went into halftime with a 19-point deficit and down 33-14.

Idaho coach Jon Newlee said the first minutes of the game set a tone that Idaho was never able to break.

“I thought the tone was set early when we missed those layups early, point blank layups,” Newlee said. “I think it kind of fed their fire a little bit. We knew they were going to come out extremely aggressive.”

The second half didn’t get any better for the Vandals. Fresno State came out firing again and never allowed Idaho to mount a comeback. The Bulldogs lead by as many as 36 and were able to put the game in cruise control for the blowout victory.

Fresno State coach Adrian Wiggins said his team’s victory was due to their disruption of Idaho’s flow and the confidence his team played with. 

“We had a lot of respect for Idaho’s shooting ability. We didn’t want to let them catch and shoot,” Wiggins said. “…We didn’t make a lot of buckets in the first half, but I think we gained a lot of confidence with the lead we jumped out to.”

Fresno State’s Ki-Ki Moore led all scorers with 19 and was one of four Bulldogs players to reach double figures in the contest. Charlston lead Idaho with 14.

The Vandals were outrebounded 44-34 in the game and gave up 17 offensive boards. Newlee said his team gave up too many second chances to Fresno State.

“The offensive rebounds really hurt us. One of our keys to winning was not to give them second changes. I think they do a great job of chasing down the misses,” Newlee said. “We did not do a good job of blocking out tonight. We did an extremely poor job of blocking out tonight and it did end up costing us.

With the win the Bulldogs move on to the conference championship where they will play La. Tech in an attempt to win a second straight WAC title. It’s the second straight year the two teams have met in the final.

It was a season of ups and downs for a young Vandal squad that managed to come together toward the end of the season and claim the No. 4 seed in the tournament before winning the first round. The Vandals will say goodbye to seniors Keri Arendse, Adrie Shiels and Ganeaya Rogers.


WAC woes find men, again

8 Mar

Theo Lawson


Optimism became contagious for the Vandal men’s basketball team late in the second half, but a second half surge wasn’t enough to save No. 3 Idaho from crashing out if its second consecutive WAC Tournament, falling to No. 6 Hawaii 72-70 in the first round.

A Zane Johnson-less Warrior team faced further despair midway through the second half when second-leading scorer Joston Thomas earned a technical foul and fouled out of the game. Only minutes later, coach Gib Arnold drew the team’s second technical, helping Idaho take a seven-point lead, its largest of the game.

But it was a Warrior team that made all the right plays at all the right rimes. Johnson’s replacement, freshman Shaquille Stokes, netted a crucial three-point shot to tie the game at 64-64 with three minutes to play.

“Obviously losing Zane was a big deal and I just felt good about this team, I felt like they deserved it,” Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said. “We’ve been a team that’s battled, we’ve been a team that’s done some really good things this year… We’ve struggled the past three weeks and the team and the university needed it.”

At 68-68 and with less than one minute remaining, Vander Joaquim stole an offensive rebound away from the Vandals, tipping it back in to earn a two-point lead. Kyle Barone’s lay in on the other end set the score level once more but Hawaii’s Hauns Brereton knocked down a baseline jumper, leaving the Vandals three seconds to pull out a miracle. Stephen Madison’s inbounds pass fell into the hands of Joaquim and the Warriors had every right to celebrate their first conference tournament victory since 2005.

“We made a couple of tough decisions but that’s basketball and it came down to a one-possession game,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “I thought they did things they usually do to stop our run and get themselves back in, Stokes hit a big three.”

At the helm for four years now, Verlin has experienced his fair share of tournament woes.

“It was a tough one, there’s no question about it,” Verlin said. “You’ve got to give Hawaii credit, the way they played down the stretch, Vander Joaquim had a couple key rebounds down the stretch there… I couldn’t be prouder of our team; I thought we played extremely hard.”

Idaho’s offensive success was limited in the first half, when the Vandals shot a dismal 34 percent from the field and 12 percent from three-point range. Both teams concluded the game shooting 44 percent from the field.

Stokes played Johnson’s role almost to perfection and the Harlem native, who didn’t log one minute against the Vandals in Moscow earlier this season, tallied 17 points Thursday.

Arnold praised the play of his two guards.

“I mean you’ve got two point guards who have combined for 12 and 1 (12 assists, one turnover), you’re going to be in every game and we’ve kind of seen that translate, which is nice,” he said.

It was Brereton who was the Warriors’ surprise hero though. In addition to his game-winning jumper, the junior forward was 6 of 8 from the field and also finished with 17 points. Brereton averaged just seven points-per-game during the regular season.

The dominant inside play of Joaquim and Barone, the conference’s top two centers, caused 42 fouls between the teams. Joaquim’s double-double saw him drop 20 points and grab 13 rebounds while Barone added 19 points. Senior forward Djim Bandoumel snatched a career-high 16 rebounds.

Idaho’s chances at a postseason tournament, likely the CIT or CBI, are high and will be announced as early as Sunday.

The Warriors will advance to the semifinals and play the winner of No. 2 New Mexico State and No. 7 Fresno State.

WAC Tournament: Scouting Report

5 Mar

WAC Tournament brackets- Men’s and women’s

4 Mar

Warriors helpless in Vandal thrashing

2 Mar



Theo Lawson


Photo by Ilya Pinchuk

The preseason No. 5 Idaho (17-12, 8-5 WAC) men’s basketball team silenced WAC critics Thursday evening with an 82-63 thrashing of Hawaii (15-14, 6-7 WAC) at Honolulu’s Stan Sheriff Center.

With the win, Idaho will be no less than the No. 3 seed in next week’s WAC Tournament in Las Vegas and with a win Saturday at San Jose State and New Mexico State loss at Fresno State, the Vandals would clinch the No. 2 seed.

Like they did last week in Logan, Utah, the Vandals busted the game open early and carried a convincing 17-point lead into halftime. However, a sequel to last week’s meltdown against Utah State seemed a slight possibility when the Warriors’ 16-5 run to start the second half hacked the Vandal lead down to eight points.

A calm and collected Stephen Madison netted consecutive baskets and Deremy Geiger’s ensuing three-pointer put Idaho up 17 once again. Shaquille Stokes’ consecutive three-pointers cut the lead to 10 but Hawaii’s chance had come and gone.

Coach Don Verlin insisted the Vandals were at their very best Thursday night.

“We can’t play any better than that, I thought out team played about as well as we can play and I couldn’t be happier for them,” Verlin said. “We talked about having a competitive spirit about us and I really thought we brought that to the island.”

The Vandals, who had won five straight before falling to the Aggies on Saturday, shot lights out, going 26 for 51 from the field. They still remain perfect when shooting 50 percent or better.

Meanwhile, the Vandals’ defensive efforts deserved an applaud, mainly because junior center Vander Joaquim, a potential all-WAC first teamer was held to four points and was a lowly 1 for 7 from the field. Joaquim, who posted 18 points against the Vandals in Moscow, fouled out late in the second half.

Idaho’s Kyle Barone was responsible for Joaquim and the junior’s stellar defense held Joaquim to one of his worst shooting nights all season.

“I just wanted to make it tough on him, I didn’t want him to get a good sweet spot right on the block where he’s a dribble or two away from the basket,” Barone said. “Just fighting him the whole way up the court, frustrated him a little bit and our guards helped us with a little help off the point guards, start digging a bit on the ball… He never got in a rhythm.”

In fact, 41 total fouls were committed Thursday; with Joaquim and Vandal forward Djim Bandoumel being the only two to foul out.

Idaho all but dominated the boards, out-rebounding the WAC’s second-leading rebounding team 46 to 27.

“They were missing their shots and we were getting the rebounds, and we didn’t do that in Moscow, we didn’t do a good enough job contesting shots and boy I’ll tell you I thought we did a great job,” Verlin said.

The feat proves more impressive considering the fact that no Vandal had more than nine rebounds and it was junior Mike McChristian who came off the bench to lead his team with nine boards, a career-high for the junior college transfer.

Shooting guard Deremy Geiger had combined for 10 points in three previous meetings with the Warriors, but the senior broke out of his shell, doubling that total and finishing with 20 on Thursday. Geiger was 4 for 9 from three-point land.

“I mean I guess he was born here, so it was a homecoming for him,” Barone said of Geiger. “We found that out before the game and he lived here for two years and he was born here. I said this is your hometown you’ve got to show out.”

Sophomore Stephen Madison trailed Geiger with 17 points and eight rebounds while bigs Djim Bandoumel and Barone were a few points and rebounds shy of double-doubles.

Idaho’s bench came out firing on all cylinders in the first half and freshman Connor Hill lined up and converted three consecutive trifectas early on. McChristian became the Vandals’ role player and his nine rebounds were complimented with six points, three assists and two steals.

The win was Idaho’s largest ever in Honolulu and extended the Vandals streak in Honolulu to three games. In addition, the Vandals have now beaten every WAC team at least once this season.

It’s back to Northern California for the third time this season for Idaho, who faces one last WAC regular season test against one-win San Jose State (9-20, 1-12) Saturday night. The Spartans haven’t won in conference since they beat Fresno State in double overtime on February 9. Although Idaho had no trouble with the Spartans earlier this season, beating them 74-66 in the Cowan Spectrum, seven of SJSU’s nine wins have come at home. SJSU have already locked the eight seed in the WAC Tournament.

VN Scouting Report – Utah State 2.21.12

22 Feb

VN Scouting Report v Portland State

16 Feb

Seniors Deremy Geiger, Djim Bandoumel and Landon Tatum talk about Saturday’s game against Portland State in the Sears Bracket Buster matchup and their last home game as Vandals

Barone is WAC Player of the Week

13 Feb


Junior center Kyle Barone was named the Verizon WAC Player of the Week, marking the first time this season an Idaho men’s player has been honored with the award.

Barone earned his first ever player of the week award after leading the Vandals to three wins in a span of five days.

The Garden Grove, Calif. native’s week included two double-doubles, against Seattle U. and La. Tech. Barone was two rebounds shy of a double-double during Thursday’s upset of New Mexico State.

In Idaho’s 70-69 victory against the Redhawks last Tuesday, Barone posted a team-high 17 points and 12 rebounds, while converting seven of eight from the charity stripe.

Against a massive New Mexico State team, Barone notched a game-high 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Barone and senior Djim Bandoumel also combined for eight blocks.

But Barone was most impressive in Saturday’s win over La. Tech. With a major size advantage, the junior tied a career-high 15 rebounds, most of which came in the first half. His 13 defensive rebounds were a career-high and 11 of his 14 points came in the first half.

The preseason all-WAC first team candidate averaged 15.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 2.0 assists per game last week, while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor and 73.3 percent from the free throw line.

Barone now has eight double-doubles on the season.

Big men seal the deal for Idaho

10 Feb

Theo Lawson



In what proved to be an overwhelming task for the Vandal men’s basketball team, it was Idaho (14-11, 6-4 WAC) who overwhelmed New Mexico State (17-3, 6-8 WAC), defeating the Aggies 59-58 Thursday evening in the Cowan Spectrum.

Idaho overcame a seven-point Aggie lead with less than five minutes remaining and with five seconds left to play, Kyle Barone slipped an unanticipated but brilliant pass into the hands of Djim Bandoumel, who was wide open for the lay-up. The Aggies put the ball into the hands of WAC leading scorer Wendell McKines but McKines’ deep jumper guarded tightly Barone had no chance, sending the Vandals away with their third consecutive victory.

“We had kind of an idea of what we wanted to do after the inbounds play and I felt like I could get by my guy and I saw Djim’s guy help and there was nobody guarding him to help on help so I dished it off to him and he finished it,” Barone said.

Against a much bigger, much more physical New Mexico State team, Idaho won the battle inside the key, scoring more points in the paint and out-rebounding the Aggies, a team who out-rebounded Idaho 38-21 when the two met one month ago.

Idaho, the WAC’s leading three-point percentage team, were a dismal 1-10 from three-point range Thursday and the same Vandal team that averages almost 67 percent from the free-throw line were 50 percent for the second consecutive game, this time shooting 6-12 from the line.

It was the efficient, yet effective Idaho defense though that held the visitors to their lowest point total of the year including both conference and non-conference contests. To further emphasize Idaho’s defensive success, the Aggies lead the WAC in total scoring offense with an average of almost 77 points-per-game. The game also marked the second time this year Idaho has been victorious scoring less than 60 points.

Though Barone and Bandoumel counteracted the Aggie size and speed with their strong presence underneath the basket, a less likely face in junior college transfer Mike McChristian picked the perfect time to heat up. McChristiaon hadn’t seen action in the team’s last three games and hadn’t scored since the Vandals’ loss in Las Cruces last month but it was the junior who propelled Idaho to a 10-2 run in the first half  that would conclude with a McChristian bank-shot buzzer beater to tie the score at 31-31.

McChristian concluded with a career-high eight points off of a 4-4 shooting clip.

Coach Don Verlin made it clear that McChristian had been nothing more than a practice squad player in recent weeks, but his efforts were worthy of game MVP honors.

“Awesome game, probably the player of the game,” coach Don Verlin said. “I thought he turned the tides, Mike hasn’t played in a couple of games, wonderful kid, has been on the scout team and hasn’t gotten a lot of run for whatever reason… It was great to see him step up and make those plays, probably won the game for us.”

Down the stretch, the Vandals trailed by as many as seven with five minutes to play and while the clutch shooting was inexistent, the hard-nosed defense was.

Idaho’s 8-0 run to close the game consisted of four consecutive missed Aggie shots and two missed free throws.

While Bandoumel was the one that gave Idaho it’s crucial go-ahead basket, the Quebec native was the first one to praise Barone for yet another dominating performance.

“Coach called big plays for him and he was just going hard,” Bandoumel said. “And KB (Barone), I always say to him, when you have the ball nobody can stop you in that league and just go hard and good things are going to happen.”

Bandoumel polished off an impressive night with a career-high six blocks while his counterpart Barone tallied a game-high 16 points. Barone’s nine rebounds were also a game-high and his four assists were a career-high.

“It’s always hard to adjust to New Mexico State’s quickness and size and I thought we did a much better job in the first eight or ten minutes of adjusting to what they have to offer,” Verlin said. “They’re so physically imposing, for the lack of a better word, they intimidate you a little bit… I thought our guys did a great job of battling all night long.”

Idaho host La. Tech to close out the home WAC season Saturday evening at 8:05 PM in the Cowan Spectrum. The Bulldogs (11-13, 3-6 WAC) are coming off of three consecutive losses and fell at the hands of the Vandals 90-88 last month in Ruston.

Vandals v New Mexico State – Post Game

10 Feb

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