Tag Archives: Luiz Toledo

Photo Gallery double-feature: Football and Basketball

7 Nov

Oh boy, was it a rough night for Vandal fans yesterday. We’ve been wracking our brain to spin some sort of positive on Idaho’s embarrassing blow-out loss to Nevada on home, but when you give up an astounding 844 yards of total offense…well, it’s slim pickings. At least quarterback Nathan Enderle didn’t throw any interceptions, and had a sweet 75-yard bomb to Justin Veltung for an Idaho touchdown, but beyond that it was all downhill.

Some more quick stats and facts:

  • Idaho returned the ball down the length of the field twice, compiling 155 yards, but each return was followed by a last-second fumble, which Nevada recovered nullifying Idaho’s drive.
  • The 844 offensive yards are a school record for Nevada. The sad part? It could have been worse, as Nevada chose to ease off the gas in the final quarter. No joke, from the sidelines, it could have easily been 100-17.
  • Nevada had three rushers with 100+ yards….and one of them wasn’t Kaepernick!
  • Speaking of the talented QB, Kaepernick went 20-30 with five touchdown passes. With 20 completions and five touchdown passes, our intricate knowledge of basic arithmetic tells us that every four passes Kaepernick threw a touchdown. W…O…W
  • Idaho’s running game averaged a laughable 3.6 yards per carry.
  • Idaho dropped to below .500, they are now 4-5, for the first time since 2008.

We’ll have a broader overview of Idaho’s loss Monday after we chat with Akey and the team has some time to review the film. For now, however, our resident photographer Kate Kucharzyk snapped some shots of the Vandals loss.

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Fans hoping for a post-game bummer cure were sorely disappointed if they followed the men’s basketball team’s game against LCSC. The Vandals had trouble closing out the NANI school, missing shots and assignments all night and leaving the game in doubt until the final buzzer. Idaho won, but it wasn’t a pretty win by any standard. As much as it pains us to say it, should the Vandals, who shot 34 percent in the second half and finished the game with less than a 45 percent success rate from the floor against a team which it was expected to dominate, are looking at a long season if they continue this style of play heading into the season opener against Easter Oregon.

A sloppy game didn’t stop Kate from snapping some nice-looking shots of the men in action, which we share with you. Enjoy.

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Vandals hold Garcia in check, complete Seattle sweep

18 Feb

Seattle RedHawks center Charles Garcia has been called one of the best players on the West Coast, with a dominating inside game based on unstoppable post moves. But tonight it was the homestanding Idaho Vandals who owned the paint — Garcia notwithstanding.

Holding off repeated RedHawks charges down the stretch, Idaho (13-12, 4-8 Western Athletic Conference) captured an 82-72 victory over Seattle (13-14) in the Cowan Spectrum, giving the Vandals their first winning record since early January. With just five games remaining in the regular season, every win is precious for an Idaho team trying to claw its way back into the postseason conversation. In the teams’ previous meeting this season, on Jan. 30, the Vandals took down the RedHawks in KeyArena, 87-85.

Idaho’s starting inside duo, Marvin Jefferson and Luiz Toledo, combined for 26 points and shot .750 from the floor, contributing mightily to the Vandals’ 44-30 edge on points in the paint. They collectively held Garcia to 14 points on 5-for-12 shooting, well below his average. Meanwhile, Kashif Watson juked and slashed his way to 20 points on a .750 field-goal percentage of his own.

“Coach has been preaching all along that the seniors are going to lead this team in February and March, and it was a night for me and Marvin to step up and have a big game,” Watson said. “The way we played tonight fits my style, getting up and down in transition and converting the easy opportunities.”

As a team, the Vandals shot 57 percent from the field while holding the RedHawks to just 38 percent. Unusually, Idaho hit just one 3-pointer all night on only six attempts, nearly a season-low. Clearly, coach Don Verlin instructed his team to eschew the quick jump-shot in favor of driving the lane and pounding Seattle in the paint.

The fast-paced battle was a pitched, back-and-forth affair for the opening 11 minutes, as the lead swapped back and forth seven times in that span with no team drawing more than a three-point advantage. But the RedHawks’ third-leading scorer, Cervante Burrell, was whistled for three personal fouls in 14 seconds — from 17:57 to 17:43 — and spent the rest of the half on the bench. That might well come back to haunt Seattle coach Cameron Dollar, as Burrell fouled out late in the second half and finished with zero points and one rebound.

Though he was relatively quiet the rest of the night, it was Luciano de Souza who would break the logjam and give Idaho the lead for good with a textbook top-of-the-key 3-pointer. His nothing-but-net jumper gave the home team a one-point edge with eight-and-a-half minutes remaining and ignited the small but vocal crowd of 1,287. Seemingly feeding off that energy, the Vandals closed the half on a 22-10 run, punctuated by dunks from Watson, Jefferson and Kyle Barone, and took a 38-28 lead into the locker room.

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Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Seattle

18 Feb

It’s BracketBusters week in Moscow, and the Vandals’ final pair of non-conference battles are on tap. First, the Seattle RedHawks visit the Cowan Spectrum tonight. The RedHawks are a transitional Division I team that will look to avenge a home loss at the hands of Idaho earlier this season. On Saturday, Dan Monson’s Long Beach State 49ers come to town for the ESPNU BracketBusters matchup.

For the Vandals, this pair of games is key to securing the potential of a second consecutive winning season. Sweep the week at home and the prospects for finishing above .500 get much brighter.

The star of the RedHawks, all-everything stud Charles Garcia, gave Idaho fits last time in Seattle. Big-time scorers have stepped up big against the Vandals time and again, as Don Verlin’s defense has had trouble containing playmakers. Will Marvin Jefferson, Luiz Toledo or Kyle Barone be able to slow him down? Will Kashif Watson’s foot injury keep him from being 100%? Can Idaho snap out of its home-court funk? Find out, tonight.

We’ll have Vandal Nation Live complete courtside coverage, with pregame at 6:30 p.m., tip at 7.

Click here for live commentary, analysis and chat!

Break out the brooms: Idaho sweeps Fresno State

14 Feb

After a heartwrenching home loss to Nevada, the Idaho Vandals found solace tonight in an unlikely place: the unfriendly confines of Fresno State’s Save Mart Center.

On a tough Western Athletic Conference road trip, in a venue where the Bulldogs had lost just twice this year, the Vandals outshot and outhustled the home team en route to a 68-59 victory — sweeping Fresno State for the second consecutive season.

Idaho’s charge was led by a stellar night from Mac Hopson, who shot 8-for-11 from the floor and 2-for-3 from downtown for 20 points, while sharpshooter Luciano de Souza added 16 more, including four big treys. The win puts Idaho (12-12, 4-8 WAC) in the driver’s seat to secure a berth in the WAC Tournament next month.

“I’ve said this team is going to play some really good basketball at some point and we’re starting to get to where we should be,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “These guys have hung tough all year long and they’re getting better every game.”

The Vandals held a narrow lead most of the first half, but Fresno State (13-13, 6-6 WAC) took advantage of back-to-back turnovers to close the gap, and only a Shawn Henderson putback at the buzzer allowed Idaho to head into the locker room tied with the home team.

For the first ten minutes of the second half, both teams waged a fierce, back-and-forth battle, swapping the lead several times. Then, the Vandals missed three straight shots and Fresno State seized the lead on a Brandon Sperling layup with ten minutes to play. All the momentum seemed to be on the home team’s side.

But the Vandals would not be denied, as center Marvin Jefferson responded with a dunk-and-one to give Idaho the lead for good. That play sparked an 11-2 Vandal run which ultimately broke the game open. Jeff Ledbetter grabbed a steal on the next possession, dishing off to Jefferson for another dunk, Hopson canned a trey and Kyle Barone contributed another bucket-and-one.

The final straw for Fresno State came after Paul George canned a trey with six minutes remaining, cutting Idaho’s lead to just three. Seconds later, Steffan Johnson fired off a right-back-atcha 3-pointer that hit nothing but net, and the Vandals’ advantage would never be less than two possessions the rest of the way.

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Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. Nevada

10 Feb

Vandal Nation is back, and just in time!

Tonight, Idaho takes on Nevada in a pivotal Western Athletic Conference battle in front of ESPN2’s national television cameras. It’s the Vandals and the Wolf Pack, each team desperate to prove something. Nevada needs to show it can win big games on the road, while Idaho wants to climb its way back into the WAC Tournament conversation.

Can Mac Hopson, Steffan Johnson and Luiz Toledo keep the momentum rolling at home against the star-power of Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson? Join us and find out.

We’ll have all the action live from courtside in the Cowan Spectrum. Pregame coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., tip at 8.

Click here for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat!

Don Verlin, Luiz Toledo and Kashif Watson talk Nevada

9 Feb

Tomorrow in the Cowan Spectrum, the cameras of ESPN2 — The Deuce — will be trained on Idaho’s home hardwood as the Vandals battle the Wolf Pack on national television.

We talked with coach Don Verlin, forward Luiz Toledo and guard Kashif Watson about the Vandals’ recent surge back to some semblance of respectability in the WAC, and asked them what it’ll take for Idaho to pull off the upset of a talented Nevada squad.

Inside game comes up big as Vandals snap losing streak

29 Jan

Seven seconds left in the first half, tie ballgame and Fresno State’s looking to add a seventh 3-pointer to their tally to take a lead into the locker room. Bulldog guard Steven Shepp aims a pass at forward Brandon Sperling and fires.

But the big man in white, Marvin Jefferson, was a half-step ahead. Idaho’s powerful center swiped the ball away and lumbered down the court as the clock ticked down. Jefferson’s 6-10 frame exploded into the air and slammed the ball home as the backboard flashed red. In your face, Fresno State.

From there on out, it was all Idaho.

Powered by a season-high 44 points in the paint, including 16 points from sophomore forward Luiz Toledo, the Idaho Vandals snapped a six-game losing streak by defeating Fresno State in the Cowan Spectrum, 74-59. Idaho improves to 9-10 overall, 2-6 in Western Athletic Conference play, while the Bulldogs fall to 11-11, 4-4 WAC.

We’ll have a complete postgame wrap in the morning, but for now here’s video interviews with Don Verlin, Luiz Toledo, Kashif Watson and Mac Hopson.

Stone-cold second half leads to Idaho’s third straight home loss

23 Jan

In a season where Idaho has struggled to make free throws and hang onto the ball, tonight at home against Utah State the Vandals did both of those tasks quite well. The Vandals converted on 14 of 17 attempts from the charity stripe and gave up just six turnovers all night.

But in the second half, it was the shooting-the-ball-into-the-hoop thing the Vandals couldn’t quite get the hang of.

Bewildered by the Aggies’ lockdown zone defense, Idaho converted on just four of 22 shots from the floor in the second period — scoring a season-low 18 points in those 20 minutes. Those aren’t the kind of numbers that will get it done against Stew Morrill’s Utah State squad, and they didn’t. The Vandals took their fifth straight Western Athletic Conference loss, falling to the Aggies in the Cowan Spectrum, 60-48.

“We got two holes plugged and some others busted tonight,” coach Don Verlin said, with a frustrated chuckle. “I made some personnel changes to get us to be more efficient and I thought we were at times, but then we don’t rebound or shoot as well as we have been. We just have to keep grinding. It’s the only thing I know to do.”

Early on, the game looked like it would become a punch-for-punch slugfest. The Vandals (8-9, 1-5 WAC) struggled to find consistent offense, as Utah State (15-6, 5-2 WAC) stifled point guard Mac Hopson’s game early. But Idaho’s Steffan Johnson and Kashif Watson joined together to pick up the slack with cut-and-slash drives and high-percentage shooting. Hopson recognized his situation and cleanly moved the ball out of the traps, dishing up five assists for just one turnover — one of his best ball-movement nights of the season.

But in the paint, it was all blue. The Aggies’ interior combo of Tai Wesley, Nate Bendall and Brady Jardine appeared to be unstoppable all night long, exploiting holes in the defense and tearing through the paint at will. Utah State owned a 35-23 rebounding edge in the game.

“They outphysicaled us, tonight they just beat us in the trenches,” Verlin said. “Wesley and Bendall and Jardine, they kicked our tail on the boards and in the paint and it was about that simple.”

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Hoops Preview: Lewis-Clark State (Neutrality violated edition)

29 Dec

Welcome back, Idaho fans — tonight it’s a showdown between the Vandals and Lewis-Clark State on a Qwest Arena floor that promises to be anything but neutral. Word is, the game’s nearly sold out, and with the Humanitarian Bowl tomorrow, it’s going to be a house packed with Vandal backers.

On paper, this should be a blowout — a Division I program that should contend for the WAC title against a middling NAIA squad. But the Vandals are in a deep funk, having lost two of their last three games and playing terribly in the one game they did win — a squeaker over NAIA Eastern Oregon. Conference play begins on Jan. 2 in Hawaii, and last year the Vandals were torched in Honolulu by the bottom-feeding Rainbow Warriors. If Idaho hopes to live up to its billing and fight for the WAC championship, they’ll have to turn their play around, and quickly.

Tonight’s contest is their last shot to show it.

We’ll be courtside with Vandal Nation Live play-by-play coverage. Pregame starts at 5:30 p.m. Pacific, tip at 6. Click here to join.

Lewis-Clark State Warriors (8-5)

Frontier Conference — 2009 record: 11-14 (lost to MSU-Northern in Frontier Conference Tournament First Round)

The Warriors started the season hot, but much like the Vandals, have struggled of late. They’ve lost four of their last six, including a narrow loss last night at home to NCAA Division III (non-scholarship) Wisconsin-Stout. They’ll jump on the bus and head for Boise today to play on one night’s rest, which does not bode well for their chances at pulling off a shocker upset.

In their two prior games against NCAA Division I opponents, Lewis-Clark State was comprehensively destroyed — an 82-53 pasting by Montana and an 73-51 beatdown by Washington State.

Nor does history provide comfort for the Warriors — the Vandals have won all 13 previous regular-season meetings between the Gem State’s northernmost four-year colleges.

However, for the Warriors the game counts only as an exhibition, not as part of their win-loss record, so there’s not much penalty for losing. Therefore, going for broke is always an option, and we’ll probably see LCSC throw everything they have at Idaho. It almost certainly won’t be enough, but as the Vandals found out to their terror against Eastern Oregon, it could scare the living daylights out of Idaho fans if Don Verlin’s crew don’t come out firing on all cylinders.

The “Key statistic” feature is taking the night off because it’s not particularly illuminating to compare season-long stats between NAIA and NCAA teams.

Projected Starters:

  • G #20 Markus Monroe, Jr. — 19.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.9 apg

A bigtime scoring machine for the Warriors, Monroe quickly earned himself a starting spot with smart shooting and bigtime moves. He’s the best backcourt shooter LCSC has, hitting at a .461 clip, and like Mac Hopson, he can clean up the glass, too. But Markus has been off the mark from beyond the arc, making 9 of 35 attempts for an awful .257 pace. Nor is he a great ball-handler, with 32 turnovers for just 19 assists. But he can go off for 30+ points in a game, so keeping him in check will be another key test for Idaho’s defense.

  • F #24 Tanner McIntosh, Sr. — 12.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 apg

Boasting some serious power forward size, the 6-8 big man has been the workhorse of Lewis-Clark State’s paint rotation. McIntosh is the team’s best shooter, knocking ‘em down at a .542 pace, and leads the Warriors in rebounding. He also plays nearly 32 minutes per game, also a team high. While McIntosh’s moves might not be up to Division I standards, the Vandals have proven vulnerable inside and Luiz Toledo needs to lock him down if Idaho wants to quickly dispel any upset hopes. Hack-a-McIntosh is a valid strategy, as he averages just .500 at the charity stripe.

  • G #5 Daniel Williams, Sr. — 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.2 apg

OK, forgive us for chuckling, but this guy is listed at 6-4, 220. Yipes. That’s not the normal setup for a shooting guard, and he might be huffing and puffing up the court against the Vandals’ Kashif Watson. That said, Williams can score in bunches. He’s not a great shooter — just .410 on the season — but he’s a solid ball-handler and grabs plenty of rebounds while cutting and slashing to the hoop. Note to Idaho’s defense: Let him shoot outside all he wants. He’s 3-for-22 (yeah, that bad) from downtown.

  • C #22 James Craft, Sr. — 8.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.3 apg

A Division I-quality big man who’s filtered down to the NAIA ranks, Craft’s 7-foot frame will even overshadow (if barely) Idaho center Marvin Jefferson. For a guy in the paint, he doesn’t shoot that well — just .444 from the floor — but he’s an astounding .864 free-throw shooter, so the Vandals’ inside rotation will have to be very careful not to send him to the foul line. One reason he might have lost his spots at Wright State and Tennessee State? Terrible ball-handling. He has 25 turnovers in 12 games for a .12 assist-to-turnover ratio.

  • G #2 Terrell Wallace, So. — 6.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.2 apg

As a freshman last season, Wallace was thrust into the starting spotlight after the Warriors’ returning point guard was sidelined with a season-ending back injury. He made a fine account of himself, posting a team-best 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio and hitting a respectable .341 from downtown. Now a sophomore with a year of starting experience under his belt, Wallace is picking his shots better and is dishing up assists more efficiently. He’ll present an interesting defensive challenge for Mac Hopson.

Key reserves:

  • G #4 Derek Gianukakis, Jr. — 6.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.8 apg

The Warriors’ designated Annoying White Jump Shooter, Gianukakis takes two-thirds of his shots from beyond the arc and cans them at a team-best .426 clip. When he’s out on the floor, Idaho’s defense will have to watch out and lock down, or risk being peppered with 3-point rainbows. The good news? That’s pretty much the only dimension to his game, as he’s neither a great ball-handler nor does he have strong inside moves.

  • G #3 Jared Giammona, Jr. — 6.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.4 apg

Another reserve guard with a weird last name that starts with a G, Giammona is nearly as committed to the 3-point shot as Gianukakis. He’s started more than half of the Warriors’ games but seems to have fallen out of favor with the rise of Markus Monroe. Giamonna doesn’t seem to excel anywhere but he’s got a good set of skills all over the ball and that makes him a solid candidate to be first off the bench for Lewis-Clark State.

Hoops Preview: Portland (Deja vu edition)

22 Dec

Yes, the Vandals are playing Portland tonight — and yes, we’ve been there before.

Idaho took down the then-No. 25 Pilots in Moscow on Dec. 6. The stunning 20-point blowout helped knock Portland out of the Top 25.

Now, Idaho travels to Portland, and the Pilots will undoubtedly be out for revenge. Can the Vandals do on the road what they did at home? We’ll find out — the game tips at 7 p.m. We’ll have live scoring updates on Twitter.

The Pilots opened the season with five straight wins, including victories over Oregon, UCLA and No. 22 Minnesota, before losing a close fight to West Virginia. That was enough to earn them their first Top 25 ranking since the 1950s. But from there it was downhill — Portland dropped a close game at home in the city battle with Portland State and then fell to the Vandals.

In their two games since, they’ve edged Denver at home and were torched by Washington on the road. So the Pilots are 6-4.

A win over Idaho would avenge the brutal defeat in Moscow and put the Pilots back on the right track.

For the Vandals, the story is much the same — a win tonight would exorcise the demons of back-to-back disappointments against Washington State and Eastern Oregon, launching Idaho into the WAC season on the right track.

To get the win, the Vandals will need to return to the formula that made them a formidable hoops power: a balanced scoring attack with inside power from Marvin Jefferson and Luiz Toledo and outside sharpshooting from Steffan Johnson and Mac Hopson. After sitting the last two games with injury troubles (a big reason why Idaho struggled) Toledo’s scheduled to return to the lineup tonight. He’s got to play well for Idaho to leave the Beaver State with a win.

For our full breakdown on the Pilots from the last game, click here.

Hoops Preview: Inside Eastern Oregon (Tasty cupcake edition)

12 Dec

Today at 5 p.m. in Memorial Gym, the Idaho Vandals will tip off against the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers out of the NAIA’s Cascade Collegiate Conference. To steal a phrase from Kyle Whelliston, they don’t call them guarantee games for nothing — and this one is about as guaranteed as it gets. The Mountaineers are a top squad in NAIA Division II competition, but they shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge for the Vandals.

It’s Idaho’s final home game before WAC play begins, and the Vandals will no doubt be out for blood after a poor showing Wednesday at Washington State. Coach Don Verlin made clear his displeasure with his team’s performance that night, and we’re told his players were doing running drills until they dropped on Thursday.

We’ll have complete Vandal Nation Live coverage, with pregame at 4:30 p.m., tip at 5.

Let’s take a look at this year’s Eastern Oregon squad.

Eastern Oregon Mountaineers (7-4)

Cascade Collegiate Conference — 2009 record: 25-8 (lost to Oklahoma Wesleyan in Elite Eight)

The Mountaineers are one of the best squads in NAIA Division II play, having won at least 20 games in each of the last three seasons and advancing to the national tournament’s Elite Eight last year. They’re currently ranked #23 in the nation in the NAIA Division II Coaches’ Poll.

But NAIA Division II is a good two or three rungs down the ladder of collegiate basketball competition from the top, NCAA Division I, where the Vandals compete. Scholarships are fewer, the caliber of players is generally lower and the style of play is more relaxed. That doesn’t mean the battles aren’t fierce and heated, though. The Mountaineers are coming off a hard-fought 85-84 overtime loss to Northwest University, dropping them to 1-1 in conference play. Though the game against Idaho counts as an exhibition, Eastern Oregon’s pride is on the line and no player likes to lose.

It’s certainly not unheard of for lower-division teams to take down Division I schools. Perhaps the most famous recent example came this year, as NCAA Division II LeMoyne upset nationally-ranked Syracuse in a preseason exhibition game. If the Vandals start off flat or with any sense of entitlement, they’re liable to get shocked. But after Wednesday night’s drubbing at the hands of the Cougars, we think it’s more likely Idaho comes out aiming to light the scoreboard’s third digit.

The “Key statistic” feature is taking the night off because it’s not particularly illuminating to compare season-long stats between NAIA and NCAA teams.

Projected Starters:

  • C #21 Jordan Gregg, Sr. — 13.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.6 apg

The biggest starter on the Mountaineers’ roster at 6-7, Gregg is probably quite the bruiser in NAIA competition. But he’ll have himself a handful in the paint tomorrow night, as he’s giving up two or three inches and about 50 pounds to the Vandals’ centers. That said, he’s an effective scorer and team-leading rebounder, hitting .523 from the floor. Unusually for a big man, he’s also got great hands — a 1.0 assist-to-turnover ratio is stellar for a guy his size — and he cans 77 percent of his free throws.

  • F #14 Dan Stafford, Sr. — 10.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.5 apg

At 6-4, Stafford is a very small small forward, typifying the kind of player who can succeed at NAIA programs because of the generally smaller lineups. Unfortunately, tomorrow night he’ll be facing NCAA Division I players and that’ll be a challenge. He takes just under half his shots from 3-point range and hits only about 37 percent of them, while turning it over more often than he dishes. It will be interesting to see how Idaho defends him, because Luiz Toledo might not quite have the speed and athleticism necessary.

  • G #15 Thomas McCarthy, Jr. — 9.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.0 apg

The designated long-baller for the Mountaineers, McCarthy takes 70 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and has a quite serviceable .417 shooting percentage out there. He’s also got smooth hands and trails only Gregg in the rebounding department. The 3-point shot is the great equalizer in college basketball, and if McCarthy is allowed to get hot the game could get far too close for any Vandal fan’s comfort.

  • G #23 Jacques Wilson, Sr. — 7.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 apg

Wilson sees the fewest minutes of any of the Mountaineers’ starters, and when you look at his stats it becomes pretty clear why. He shoots just 40 percent from the field and, to boot, is in unrequited love with the 3-point shot. Wilson jacks up half of his field goal attempts from downtown and hits just a third of them. For a guard, he’s also a pathetic ball-handler, turning it over twice for every assist he dishes up. Not a great shooter and a butterfingered ball-hog, too? Why this guy starts at all is beyond us.

  • G #3 Josh Cottle, Jr. — 5.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.5 apg

A solid fixture at point guard, Cottle is the Mountaineers’ clear team leader. His 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio is the best on the team by far and quick hands have given him the team lead in steals with 16. He’s not a big-time shooter but he seems to know his limitations, as he averages just 4.5 shots per game. But going up against the Vandals’ lineup, the 5-10, 160 Cottle is ridiculously undersized. That’s going to make it exceedingly difficult for him to guard either of Idaho’s dual-threat backcourters, Steffan Johnson and Mac Hopson.

Key reserves:

  • F #20 Steven Sawyers, Sr. — 7.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.5 apg

Another of the kind of versatile, multi-threat players who can find homes on NAIA teams, Sawyers stands just 6-5, smaller than most Division I small forwards. He’s got a fairly solid inside game, hitting .507 from the field, but can also step back and can it from beyond the arc, where he’s a team-leading .421 shooter. Sawyers is not a great ball-handler, with 17 turnovers to his credit. But for instant production off the bench, he’s the Mountaineers’ man on call.

  • C #25 Josh Landsverk, Sr. — 7.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.6 apg

There’s a chance Landsverk will start in place of Gregg tomorrow night, as he’s the Mountaineers’ biggest effective player — clocking in at 6-8, 260. That’s the kind of size that Eastern Oregon will need to slug it out in the post with Marvin Jefferson. But there’s a good reason he doesn’t start right now — Landsverk coughs it up, on average, once every 10 minutes he’s on court, good for a team-worst 0.3 assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s also a poor .538 free-throw shooter, though he’s marginally more accurate from the floor than Gregg.

Three Thoughts From the Cougar Slaughter

11 Dec

So, with the benefit of a couple days’ hindsight, I’m going to swipe another idea from Chris Murray of the Reno Gazette-Journal (good artists copy, great artists steal) and post up three postgame thoughts from the Idaho Vandals’ beatdown by Washington State on Wednesday.

  1. We *need* either Luiz Toledo or Brandon Wiley, and preferably both, to be 100% healthy. Otherwise, we don’t have the muscle in the low post to get the job done. Downtown de Souza is a fine 3-point specialist winger, but he’s not suited for banging in the paint. With both Toledo and Wiley riding the pine with injuries on Wednesday, I should have recognized the mismatches would hurt us and hurt us a lot.
  2. In a related matter, our 3-point-heavy offense just doesn’t work if we don’t have an inside game. Without Toledo to make the easy layups and force them to pack the paint, Washington State sat in a zone and just dared us to jack up threes all night long. When we drove inside with Kashif or Mac, we got layups more often than not — but we couldn’t buy a basket from downtown, nor were we able to rebound the misses without Toledo’s hands up there. That’s what let Washington State pull out and blow the game wide open.
  3. Kashif Watson and Jeff Ledbetter are two of this team’s keys. Both are guys who know what their role is, play it to the hilt and don’t try to be what they’re not. You see Kashif get the ball, you know he’s going to fearlessly drive to the bucket and a. make a layup, b. get fouled or c. make a layup and get fouled. As for Jeff, he would have been 4-for-6 from 3-point range if not for jacking up a pair of desperation shots in the final minute. As it was, he canned back-to-back threes, including a contested NBA-range rainbow, to make it a 7-point game with 64 seconds left. That’s clutch.

Photo Gallery: Idaho vs. #25 Portland

7 Dec

Thanks to Argonaut photographer Nick Groff, we’ve got a great selection of photos from last night’s historic Vandal victory over the #25 Portland Pilots.

Pilots left stunned as Idaho’s defense crushes #25 Portland

6 Dec

The Portland Pilots, the No. 25 team in the country, came to Moscow tonight for Idaho’s first-ever home showdown with a nationally-ranked non-conference opponent — and were promptly blown right back out the doors of historic Memorial Gym.

To the thundering cheers of a sellout crowd in the venerable home of Idaho basketball, the Vandals made history by destroying #25 Portland, 68-48, for Idaho’s first victory over a nationally-ranked team since 1982.

Idaho improved to 5-2, the team’s best start since the 1989-90 season, while the Pilots fell to 5-3.

The victory came in an unorthodox — and for coach Don Verlin, heartening — way: with punishing lockdown defense. The Pilots, who came into this game as one of the nation’s top shooting teams, were comprehensively shut down, making just 19 of 59 shots from the field — an abysmal .322 performance.

“That’s as good defensively as we’ve played all year for that length of time,” Verlin said. “It’s a credit to our guys.”

The stat lines are stunning: guard T.J. Campbell, the Pilots’ leading scorer with 16.7 points on .554 shooting, was held to an awful 1-for-11 shooting for 3 points. Big man Robin Smeulders, a 63.3-percent shooter averaging 13.3 points, was just 1-for-6 with 2 points while turning the ball over 3 times. A team that came in shooting 42 percent from downtown made just 6 of 22 3-point attempts — 27.3 percent.

“We’re happy about this win because we did it on the defensive end and that’s where we were lacking,” Idaho point guard Mac Hopson said. “Coach said that’s what he wanted from us, was to shut them down, and we just listened this time. We stopped their top threats and got the W.”

Right from the opening tip-off, it was clear the Vandals wanted to establish dominance early. Idaho made its first three shots in a row — including a crowd-pleasing dunk by center Marvin Jefferson — while the Pilots missed their first six attempts from the floor.

The real damage was done midway through the first half. With 10 minutes to play in the opening period, a 4-0 run from the Pilots cut Idaho’s lead to 3 points, and the momentum seemed to be all on the visitors’ side. But reserve point guard Marcus Lawrence stepped up and canned a wide-open trey from the corner, and the rout was on.

Idaho would go on to score 10 more points in the next 5 minutes — while Portland combined to go 1-for-6 with 5 turnovers and a bench technical foul. Ethan Niedermeyer snapped the run with a 3-pointer, but Luciano de Souza ignited the gym by returning the favor from downtown. That would be the game’s theme — every time the Pilots looked to have something going, the Vandals struck back and reignited the crowd.

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Vandal Nation Live: Idaho vs. #25 Portland

6 Dec

It’s Idaho’s first home game against a ranked non-conference opponent in recorded history, as the Vandals take on #25 Portland this afternoon in Memorial Gym. It’s going to be a historic throwdown on the hardwood, as both squads feature offenses ranked among the best in the nation. Join us as Mac Hopson, Steffan Johnson, Luiz Toledo and the rest of the Vandals look to continue their hot start at home against the Pilots.

Here’s our complete preview package, including video interviews with Don Verlin, Mac Hopson and Marvin Jefferson.

Pregame coverage starts at 4:30 p.m., tip-off at 5.

Join us for Vandal Nation Live commentary, analysis and chat!


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